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  • Cool, Sweet Water
  • Khadija Mastur (bio)
    Translated by Tahira Naqvi (bio)

The war is over. The trenches that had been dug everywhere have been filled up. The houses that had been reduced to rubble by the bombs are now being rebuilt. When the war started, it was autumn; then came winter, and now it is spring. People appear as busy and happy as they did before the war. Businesses that had slowed down are doing well once again. Who knows if people still remember the agonies of war now that six or seven months have passed? The hustle and bustle of life make you forget everything easily. But what can I say about the others? As far as I'm concerned, even now when I see moonlight caressing the earth, it seems that it has lost its shimmer; I feel as if the moon is still complaining about our neighbouring country. If someone proclaims that the moon says nothing and hears nothing and all this is just nonsense attributed to poets and writers, then that's all right; these are matters that are related to the imagination. I am a writer; the emotions that I experience in relation to the moon are unusual. When I heard that the Russian spaceship Luna 9 had landed on the moon, my respect for the reach of man's intelligence increased, but a sigh also arose from a corner of my heart. I looked again and again at the moon, and believe me, my frail eyesight managed to catch sight of the Russian flag on the moon's surface. I was also able to see the corpse of the old woman with the spinning wheel; her spinning wheel had been smashed by Luna.

Who knows what will happen after man's conquest of the moon? What will the gains be, what the losses? But all I feel at the moment is that the people who inhabit the earth have lost everything. Any attempt to associate the moon with images of beauty bewilders me; in my imagination, no lover appears weeping in remembrance of the beloved in the light of this shimmering ball of love and passion. When I compel myself to imagine this scene, I begin to ponder the kinds of metal available on the moon and I wonder what chapters regarding man's preservation and destruction will be written with the aid of those metals. Who knows when the surface of the moon will become a battlefield.

I was still drifting in the darkness hovering over the image of the moon when the Russian flag was also planted on Venus, the star that is the first to appear on the sky in the evening. How can I now look at someone's shining [End Page 208] eyes and proclaim that they are filled with stars? How will I say, "You people, when you are tired of enduring the hardships of this world, you will have no beautiful vision left. You will talk of the metals found on the moon instead of sitting in the moonlight and conversing about the beloved, and when you are tormented by thoughts of the beloved at night, instead of counting the stars you will think of building a bungalow on Venus"?

Oh yes, where did I begin and where have I rambled to? I was saying that to this day I see the moon as a doubter. Even now when I hear the fire-crackers go off in the neighbourhood at a wedding, I am reminded of the boom of guns and the explosions of bombs. I go into the kitchen and see the lantern hanging by a nail on the wall, and I still remember the seventeen days of darkness. We made each other out in the light of this lantern, bumped into furniture as we walked around, and so many times suffered bruised knees, cuts on fingers. No one has wiped clean the glass chimney of this lantern. I don't want it to be cleaned ever so that I can remember that the nights of war are pitch dark.

I love peace, I hate war. But I love that war, as much as I love...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-943x
Print ISSN
1045-7909
Pages
pp. 208-212
Launched on MUSE
2007-07-09
Open Access
No
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