The winged sculptor and his little fairy, a story of immortal love
There once lived a winged sculptor who pledged to devote his entire life to his only masterpiece. He worked on her every single day. She was all he had, she was all that mattered. And every day he worked on his masterpiece, taking care of the minutest details, breathing life into every limb. Every day he would look at her and fall in love all over again.
One blessed morning, she stood in front of him with all her perfection, innocence, and ethereal charm. He smiled and smiled. Love erupted from him like a fountain from deep within. He picked the little fairy in his hands and bowed to his God.
“I can’t thank you enough for bringing me this light in my otherwise drab life. My whole life, I have waited for my little fairy. For years, I asked for nothing but her, and now when You have brought her to me, I beg You to put life in her every limb, a life that may outlast eternity, a life that may never wither away like that of the flowers which bloom in the morning and are plucked, crushed and buried by the night.”
“She will have the life you have asked for,” replied God. “And she would live every moment of that life. But it is you who would immortalise that life, you must nurture her with the warmth of your soul for as long as you may live.”
“Bilal, please don’t encourage her,” Erum, his wife, implored him. “She already does not want to sleep and on top of that you keep encouraging her. Please, both of you, stop playing.”
Bilal looked at her, silently complaining, but then took Abida, his three-year-old daughter, off his back and cuddled her tenderly.
“You know Baba loves you, right? But it is late now and we should sleep. Baba and Mama have to go to office in the morning. Okay?”
“Baba! No! I don’t want to sleep. Please. I want to ride on your back,” Abida cried.
Erum picked her up while Bilal looked at her sadly. She was continuously crying with tears. Erum tried to lull her but it just aggravated her crying further. Bilal fought with himself for a while but then could not take her crying. He stood up gently.
“Okay. Baba would let you ride on his back one last time.”
Abida stopped crying at once. Her smile returned to her face instantly.
“Okay.” She nodded her head in sheer delight.
Bilal bent himself on the bed so that she could ride on his back. Abida, his angel, wrapped her arms around his neck and placed herself on his back like she was planning to stay there forever. Erum looked at the father and the daughter helplessly. This is what they would do every night. She could not remember the last time she had gotten four hours of uninterrupted sleep.
She waited for a while patiently, then picked Abida and hugged her fondly.
“Say goodnight to Baba.”
“Baba goodnight,” Abida whispered, already half asleep.
“Goodnight. I love you.” Bilal looked at her.
It seemed like he wanted her to come back and keep riding his back, forever.
Erum carried Abida in her arms, and took some rounds of the lounge as she sang to her softly.
After putting Abida into her cot, Erum came to bed and to a visibly quiet father,
“I know you don’t want to say no to her when she is playing with you, but we should cultivate the habit of sleeping on time. This is not good for her. She gets so excited playing with you that she would forego her sleep. You know, Bilal, it can affect her health.”
“I know.” He responded rather miserably. “But we have our whole lives ahead of us to cultivate such good habits in her. Why are you so concerned about the future and not the present? You can’t promise her the future. But if you can make her present infinitely beautiful, then why not?”
This was the bed time conversation they had these days. Every other day, they would come up with a different logic, woven around the same argument. Should they let Abida live in the moment or groom Abida to have a disciplined and stable life ahead?
The winged sculptor carried the fairy on his back and set off to show her the world and its wonders. He told her stories and she listened in awe.
“How beautiful is the world and this life?” the fairy thought.
But one day, when they were passing by a place crowded with multitudes of people, who looked like the sculptor but did not have his wings, someone stopped them in the middle of the crowded place. The stranger had an unusual appearance, but he looked kind and handsome.
He said something in the sculptor’s ears and the sculptor, for once, turned pale. He looked at the fairy in silence and smiled a rather sad smile. He nodded at the stranger who had walked a few steps away from them. The sculptor held the fairy’s face in his hands tenderly and his eyes filled with warmth and affection. He leaned in and kissed her on the forehead.
“I have to go for now. But you should carry on with this beautiful journey for both of us. When you have completed your journey, just the way I have completed mine today, we would meet again and I shall show you the other world that I would have had seen by then.”
He kissed her again on the forehead. He did not want to leave. He had never intended to leave.
Abida, now in her late 40s, was a mother of three college-going children. She had a perfect family life filled with happiness and gratification. Her husband, Asad, loved her. There was nothing he cared more about than his wife and children. “He is so much like Baba”, Abida would often think when she saw him playing with their daughters, Sadaf and Sajida, and their son, Haris.
However, she had exceedingly grown silent over the years, since her father had passed away. Her husband and children knew how much she missed her father. They also knew how to put a smile on her face. They would look at pictures of her father and tell her that she had her father’s eyes, green, bright, and peaceful.
But Erum, their grandmother, would tell them something they did not know. She would tell them that Abida had her father’s spirit. Abida would embrace her mother in silent recognition of the bond that existed between them, a bond that no one else knew or could know.
Years passed and the fairy kept roaming around the world she knew nothing of. Everyone looked at her in awe, but none would understand her. She roamed. The winged sculptor, the one she belonged to, and who belonged to her, was nowhere to be found. The world worshipped her, but the fairy wept her silent tears for the winged sculptor. She had got lost in a world which didn’t belong to her. She didn’t belong to it either.
“Everything joined together under the sun,” she thought, “couldn’t make up for what I have lost.”
It was him she missed, her winged sculptor. The void that was created with his parting could not be filled.
On a bright evening in March, their eldest daughter, Sadaf married her best friend, Rizwan. They returned home very late at night after bidding farewell to the guests. Wedding preparations which had gone on for weeks had exhausted them. On the way back home, Abida told Asad that she felt like she had not slept in ages. After reaching home, she changed her dress rather hurriedly, took off her jewellery and put it back in the safe at the far end of the bedroom, adjacent to the study room. As she was about to close the safe, she saw an old envelope with her father’s handwriting. She picked up the envelope. Asad had already fallen asleep.
The letter in her hands was written to her during her stay at the university hostel. She had read it over a thousand times in the past. She opened the letter and started reading it yet again, and the little Abida inside her started shedding silent tears. This was the last letter her father had written to her. He breathed his last before she could write to him.
Abida sat at the study table numb and motionless for a long time. Then she took a pen and paper from the table and started writing,
While parting, you wrote to me that I should carry on with this beautiful journey for both of us. Here I am writing to you. Should I tell you that I am exhausted by our parting? Because I am. Mama tells me I have your spirit. My heart melts when she says that. It pleases me that I am still a part of you. I try so hard but I can’t distinguish you from myself. You don’t know how much I want to see you.
Whenever I came back from university for holidays, I remember how you, with your sad helpless eyes, would ask me to stay back a little longer and I used to wonder how can a few more days be enough when a week wasn’t? But you always insisted anyway.
Baba! I remember you… Holding my face in your hands and kissing my forehead with tears in your eyes. Is it too late, Baba, to tell you that I would do anything on earth to see you once again and ride on your back?
I wish I could reverse the wheels of time and go back to when you wanted me to stay a little while longer. I would sit by your side and never leave.
Of all the things I may want to do in my life, Baba, I want to re-live my moments with you. I want to sit with you during winter by the stove and eat with you. I want you to carry me over your shoulders to the shop at the far end of the street. I want you to tell me that I am the fairy that God sent to you when your life was drab.
I want you to tell me that I have your eyes but mine are bigger while yours are brighter. I want you to tell me that girls are more sensible than boys. I want you to come and pick me up from my bed and brush my teeth at night. I want to get annoyed with Mama and boycott dinner, knowing that you wouldn’t let me sleep hungry.
Baba! Write to me, please. Tell me when we would meet again. Have you seen the new world by now? When will you show it to me, Baba?”
Abida kept writing. Tears rolled down her cheek and onto the paper.
Asad woke up hearing Abida’s cries. He had heard Abida calling out to her baba. He got up hurriedly and rushed towards the study. She was leaning over the table and sobbing.
Asad was at his wits ends and was dumbfounded for a while. Then he slowly walked to her and caressed her head. He took her in his arms and hugged her without saying a word. Abida kept crying and kept calling out to her father.
“Would you not pray to me for the child? Don’t you want me to grant the wishes of your little fairy?” God asked the winged sculptor.
“Give my daughter happiness, dear God. Give her all the happiness. And God, make it outlast eternity.”
The winged sculptor wept.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.