The Bangles

The middle-aged soldier saw the young soldier coming toward him and thought, “why did he come back so early? He has only been gone for 4 days. But his leave was sanctioned for a week. As the young soldier reaches close to him, the older soldier asks the young soldier, “Abu, why did you come back so early? What happened?

Abu looks at his mate and tells him, “There was nothing to do at home. My mother has visited her relatives, so I do not want to get bored at home. How is everything here? Any new movement yet?”

An older soldier tells Abu, “The militants have burned the oil tankers in the neighboring city. Nobody died, but there was a lot of terror. There is a lot of damage to the oil. However, it is a warning sign for us. We are talking about only a few kilometers away now. I have alerted the rest of the team and asked for a backup”. 

Abu becomes serious, “hmm, okay, I will talk to the headquarter and see what they want us to do further”.

The older soldier laughs, “I thought you would get married this time. Is everything okay young man?”

Abu smiles, “I am already being married to my job”. Both soldiers laugh about it. 

Suddenly the girl comes to visit them. Abu, Abu, when did you come? Why did you even come back?

Abu looks at the girl, “I work here”.

The girl says, “No, you don’t work here. This is the only place I have played that you have stolen. But why did you come so early?

Abu looks at the girl, “I can go back if you allow me”.

The girl looks at Abu and gets excited, “Don’t go back, please. I have got a lot of schoolwork to do. Can you do my homework? The teacher has given a lot of assignments to write. My hand has already started to hurt. Can you be kind enough to help me? Please, you are my good Abu”.

Abu seems a little frustrated, “I am not here to do your schoolwork. Don’t you have anything to do at home?”

The girl gets upset, “It is my place, and I can come and go anytime. There is nothing to do at home. Baljit does all the work. She cooks food and cleans the house. I just need to watch her make sure she washes her hand before cooking. My chachu told me to do it. He has some doubts about her. So, I am doing secret work now. But don’t tell anybody about my secret work”.

The older soldier tells the girl, “There is no more secret left. we should not share our secrets with anybody.”

The girl tells the older soldier, “army uncle, I am talking to my Abu. You should not listen to our conversation. This is not good at all”.

Without waiting for any response, the girl is already gone. Abu kept looking at her until she disappeared.

The older soldier smiles and tells Abu, “You should tell her. I think you love her”.

Abu interrupted him before the older soldier said anything else, “No, never. I won’t allow her to develop desires and hopes. she is very innocent. She will be totally damaged. I don’t want to do things that are impossible for me to do. There are lots of differences among us that nobody can erase. There is nothing common in us. I don’t want her to cry. I want to see her happy and smiling all the time.  we don’t know if we will be dead or alive in the next two minutes.” 

Abu becomes sad, but he hides his emotions from everybody.  He lays down on the bed and thinks, “why have I come back soon? I must stay away from her. She makes me weak day by day. Nothing is common among us. She is at least 12 years younger than me. I am a Muslim. There is no way her family will allow her to marry me. I should transfer myself somewhere else”.

He is so tired. It was a long journey. He did not know when he fell into sleep. He wakes up and takes some bangles out. He keeps looking at the bangles. 

Two days were gone. He had not seen the girl “where is she? why she has not come yet”.  None of them came to play this side. I hope everything is okay. How she can live without visiting him”

The days have continued to pass, and Abu becomes restless. He thinks, “Should I go toward the town? What would people think? The girl may get into trouble”.

After a couple of days, Abu read a newspaper when the girl suddenly showed up. She yells from a distance, “Abu Abu, I don’t know how to read English. Can you teach me, please? 

Abu asks the girl, “what your teacher does? don’t they teach you in the school”

The girl touches her own forehead with her hand, “Silly me, everybody tries to teach something in school. Hindi teacher always yells to learn Hindi. Punjabi teachers are not happy if we don’t learn Punjabi. The music teacher has her own expectations. My art and craft teacher wants me to learn about art and craft things. I am only one person and cannot do everything. Chachu wants me to learn to write Urdu”.

Something comes to Abu’s mind, “Okay, come over here. I have something for you.” Abu gives her colorful bangles. The girl starts laughing, “I don’t wear bangles. I don’t like these crape things.”

Abu said this is your eid gift. The girl took the bangles from Abu. ” Okay, I will wear it when I get to marry you.

The girl comes back home. She opened her closet. She has managed to open one side of the hanger and slides all the bangles into the hanger without breaking it. She talks to the bangles, “Okay, you guys stay here. I will wear these bangles when I marry the soldier boy. I guarantee you this will never happen again. Mom won’t allow it. Somehow my mom allows me to marry him. Then he will refuse to marry me. I should talk to dad about it. It is a big problem”.

Abu could not tell the girl openly how much he loved her. The girl did not wear those bangles ever. Abu never wanted to hurt the girl because he knew it was impossible. He refused to do anything which could have insulted the girl. He could not tell the girl because he didn’t want the girl to raise some desires, dreams, or hopes. He does not want to make a promise that he could not have fulfilled. The girl never used bangles. She left the bangles behind when she came to live in the Western world. She never even wore any type of bangles afterward.

 Then the love of her life came. He openly expressed his feelings. He loved her. He made many promises. The desires and hopes came when the promises were made. The girl went back to her native city. She opened her closet. All the bangles were still there. They were covered with dust. She has cleaned them nicely. She took the bangles to the irrigation canal. She slowly kept the bangles in the water of the irrigation canal. Her loving man told her to let the past go away. Then he bought many colorful bangles for her. The beautiful bangles matched her all-Indian dresses. He often used to choose her dresses for any occasion. She did everything for him. The man she loves. The man who loved her once. Once again, she hides all her bangles and dresses in the basement. She secured the boxes with duck tape. He broke her heart into many pieces, which Abu did best not even to scratch. But the man she trusts and loves most smashed her heart. She has prepared her last will. She has instructed her children and written on the paper which pair of bangles and dress she should have before they do her burial. She has written clearly that please put all those bangles in my coffin. 

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