December holds a unique significance for us Asians, entwined with a particular kind of romance. Perhaps it's the warmth of our regions that makes us relish the cold. While other countries may resent the chill, we embrace it. The December rain, the lengthy nights, the notion of a beloved, the rush to sip steaming tea to stave off the cold, the comforting warmth of peanuts enveloped in paper, nestled under a velvet quilt—these elements cool the nose, making the weather cool while emotions run hot.
Yet, what if our romantic tale mirrors the tragedies that punctuate our lives? Reflecting on the December memories of my homeland, my thoughts turn to that fateful evening of December 27, 2007. A memory stained with blood as we sat at a friend's house, relishing hot chicken corn soup, cocooned in soft, warm sweaters, hands warmed by gas heaters. It's peculiar how, before a storm, there's an eerie calm. Birds chirp, animals grow restless, yet humans maintain a stillness. The storm hits, and consciousness returns, but by then, everything is lost. Bridges collapse, and the once familiar becomes unfamiliar in an instant.
On that very evening, the formidable Benazir Bhutto met her tragic end—a tigress challenging all in her path. No Day of Resurrection followed. This was it. However, our misfortune lies in the elusive nature of resurrections—they come in installments, claiming one after another, never satisfied with a single draught of blood.
December 16, 2014, marked another dark day when the innocent children of Army Public School Peshawar faced the brutality of the country's most savage act of terrorism. Wolves are not as heartless. The perpetrators were known, yet a shroud of silence enveloped the truth. Those who dared to speak were silenced, and time inexorably marched on.
December 25, 2018, dawned—a cold December, the same romantic month, yet tinged with blood. The malevolent grin of Ali Raza Abidi was silenced by seven merciless bullets. Those who boasted found their names erased. His wicked jokes on Twitter rested eternally. Farewell, brother, ascend to the heavens; we do not need dissenters like you.
Ah, December, ah.
Meanwhile, in Australia, anticipation for the New Year abounds—no exuberant celebrations, just a quiet yearning for what lies ahead. Here, there is no swelling of happiness, no dancing in the streets, no ecstatic gazes at the beloved, no laughter, no singing of joyous songs, no elation—only a sense of infertility.
Yet, for us, the wait for the new year is laden with impatience. This year, too, shall come and pass in the blink of an eye. December will arrive, and before the steam from the tea dissipates, the lamp of one's life may be extinguished. We have nothing left to lose. Whose blood remains to be paid?
Brother, keep your new year to yourself. What did you say? We don't have that luxury? Fine. Keep December to yourself. We shall learn to endure without the quilt that sends a shiver through the body when pulled. Silence pervades everything—the silence of death.
Thank you, December, for all these years! Nine peacocks!
I want to just say, "Thank you," if you are still reading so... Thank you. I know this is kind of rambling at this point. It means a lot if you are willing to read this and maybe even some of my other pieces, especially the ones that I ended up linking in this piece. I want to add an even bigger thank you to some of my friends that write on Vocal and read (and sometimes heart) my pieces. It means so much to me.
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