Future Mythologies

“Children,” their aunt said, “Today we’ll hear a true story. One of my favourite memories!”

A boy, no older than 10, said with enthusiasm, “Is it the one where men with big guns kill each other, like ‘dhishaw'” imitating the actions of the gunmen he sees everyday, “and the other person dies, like ‘gaah!'” imitating the flawless action of being dead.

The aunt said with a tint of sadness in her voice, “Oh, no! We’re gonna go through one of my favorite happy memories.”

And the look on the children’s faces would break anyone’s heart when one, in a quiet and innocent voice asked, “What does ‘happy‘ mean?”

The aunt felt like crying and shouting, running to the gunmen outside who had had enough alcohol to shoot someone, anyone at all, for their entertainment, and scream them the question she’d just been asked. But she held herself together, for the sake of the little starlings in front of her.

“It’s the feeling that you get when you want to smile. When you get something you want. The feeling you get when a baby laughs. The expression you all have when Aunt tells you a story, a fairytale. It’s the opposite of sadness, and once upon a time, it used to be in everyone.” She spoke the last part softly, quietly, as if she still hopes to have some left in them, in herself.

The quiet, innocent voice came back shattering her heart, “Where is happy now? Why don’t we have happy in us anymore?”

“Is happy gonna come back?”

-Sakina Shabbir


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