The last breath

Last Updated: November 29, 2017 at 12:18 pm

By Fazal Baloch

“Why am I losing my heart? Why am I in tears? Why do my feet tremble? It is the very nature of our relationships and all of these are based on falsehood. Yet, we need them. Man is forlorn; mother is dying; she is alone and so am I”

He looked at his mother who was about to breathe her last. He closed the book and strolled towards the foot of her bed. Wearing the oxygen mask on her nose, she was breathing unevenly. Murad was concerned about the unsteadiness of her breath. A fortnight back when she was shifted into this small hospital room, he didn’t know what exactly had happened to her; whether it was a severe attack of paralysis or something else. The only thing he could figure out was that she was unconscious and breathing slower than usual. Only the doctor knew what had happened to her. She was in her seventies or eighties and had obviously lived a long life and now her death was inevitable. He was mentally prepared for the news yet he didn’t know when she would be taking her last breath. Her pulse was still throbbing; therefore, he was supposed to stay there till she was declared dead. Fifteen days had passed so far. Heaven knew for how many more days he would have to stay there. Murad didn’t know a thing. But now she was breathing unsteadily which made Murad a little concerned. Sanding at her feet, he scanned her thoroughly. Her face had turned pale and all her wrinkles had disappeared. Her hair had been combed back. Murad looked at her face. “Mother is dying,” he whispered to himself and closed his eyes. He could not gather the courage to see her like this. Finally, he heaved himself up and decided to go to the Nurse’s Room at the end of the corridor and ask her to come and examine his mother. But, she was dying so peacefully that he didn’t want a nurse to come and interrupt her peace. Now wasn’t the time for medicines and injections for that frail body. She was to die anyways at any cost. He thought to himself that it was better he stayed and saw how things unfolded.

Murad looked at his watch. It was a quarter to two in the night. The pale light of the electric bulb continuously kept falling on his mother’s face. He strolled towards the window and looked outside. He trailed his eyes all the way from the quite lush green lawn to the medical stores of the hospital that stood a few steps ahead of the lawn. A high voltage bulb was shedding its light everywhere. But nobody was there. There were only stars twinkling in the night sky. He fixed his gaze there for quite some time. Neither did he feel like crying nor did he want to console himself. He simply kept gazing outside. He wanted to continuously stand up there and never turn back lest his footfalls interrupted his mother’s peaceful slumber.

But he softly strolled back and sat on the stool at her foot and started to read his book again. What was he reading? He couldn’t know himself. He had his eyes fixed on the book but it was almost as if they weren’t moving.

He put the book on his lap and gazed at his mother, fixating over the nature of his relationship with his mother.

“She has given birth to me. But neither can I recall it nor can she. My relationship with her is nothing but an illusion. What is the name of that chasm that is going to set me apart from my dying mother? Does there exist anything that has bonded us together? I don’t think such a thing exists. The body that has given birth to me is now dying and all I want is just to sit at her foot and see her die peacefully. Do I really want her dead? Where is that knot that had tied me to her? Isn’t a man alone in the world all these human connections? Has nature bestowed them upon us or have we created them ourselves? Nature has given birth to all of us. We all will pass through old age and die eventually. Though, naturally there is no pain, as humans we do feel it. My mother bore me and now she is dying because it is the law of the nature. Why am I losing my heart? Why am I in tears? Why do my feet tremble? It is the very nature of our relationships and all of these are based on falsehood; they are nothing but betrayal. Yet, we need them. Man is forlorn; mother is dying; she is alone and so am I. I wonder why we can’t endure the agony of separation. Indeed, no grief is bigger than that of separation.”

Murad wiped away his tears. He felt enormous strength and courage in himself. He wondered how he got that strength amidst all the weakness. Now he stood erect like a rock against the flood of grief and parting. “Where has this strength come from? It is not that I have solaced myself over mother’s expected death.” He felt real strength in himself. People often feel such strength when the feeling of parting and separation weighs upon them. The strength he gathered was not an attribute of a man but a divine one which helped him overcome all sorrows of partings. “It is a peculiar facet of man’s nature that always helps him stay unshaken and undefeated. Actually, a man is unbreakable; there are several reasons for him breaking apart though. But at the end, he endures everything.” This very thought turned Murad strong. He was quite amazed at how a while earlier he couldn’t move his feet but now he was pacing the room with quick steps. When he turned back in a while he found out that she had stopped taking long breaths. Her face looked divinely serene as that of a child’s after incessant crying. He had now fallen asleep on her mother’s lap.

The writer is a lecturer at the Government Atta Shad Degree College and can be reached at