You were happy, joyful when your mummy decided to take you to the market. It felt so surreal as you imagined how that small doll in a shop with blue eyes and blonde hair enticed you last time. You were sure to make your mother get it for you that day. You ran the tap to wash your face, combed your hair and secretly you applied mummy’s lipstick too, very light though. A second thought, you wiped it out lest somebody elder might scold you. But that pink shade refused to go away and you rubbed it hard only to get your lips further red. Your worry to get noticed soon faded when your mother called you to get ready quickly. You ran over the small pool of water on the floor hurriedly, splashed making your clothes wet. Your eyebrows raised and with a huffing sound, you reached the shoe rack and picked the matching shoe pair from second to the top row. You thought you looked great, and indeed great you looked, like a fairy!

The auto-rickshaw driver was reckless in driving. When he would drive by the tongas and tried to pass the big moving trucks, sometime you would close your eyes out of fear of crash. Your mummy felt that, she squeezed you closer and hugged you to assure that all was fine. Soon you troubles got buried when auto entered the main bazaar of the market. You saw your mummy count the fare-money three times before she gave it to the auto driver. Careful she was!

After you got down from the vehicle, the driver sped it to another waiting passenger only throwing behind smell of gasoline and thick smoke right across your face. You coughed. And started walking behind your mummy. The bazaar was dusty but the excitement to get to your favorite shop was overwhelming. There were too many women standing on the stalls of street vendors and walking passing by the glittering shops of clothing, jewelry and bangles. You were so absorbed into the exciting surroundings that your mother, after asking you few times to walk with her, decided to hold your hand and you felt that she was dragging you. “Slow down Ammi, I can’t walk that fast”, you cried.

She took you to a small restaurant where she let you sit and ordered some samosas soaked in your favorite sweetened red sauce and yummy yogurt. You were sipping your Pepsi when she asked you to get up and took you inside a cloth shop. You thought your Mummy was too picky, she was asking the sales boy to open one roll after other of a less expensive cloth. You felt bored and in effort to do something. You started to mimicking your mother and in the same tone you said, ”Acha bhai, woh wala kapra dikhao”. Your mummy smiled and felt your boredom, she picked one of the cloth sheet and ordered it to wrapped. While sales boy was packing it, she told you gently, that you should call anybody elderly ‘uncle’. You cheerfully nodded feeling that now, finally, you would steer your mother to your favourite doll-shop.

This time you held your mummy’s hand and pointed to the doll-shop. Your mummy smiled and started walking in that direction. While you were walking, your mother was looking over to some handicraft shops, but you would never let her stop on any of it. You started thinking as to how your friend would also love your doll, because you told her so much about it when last time you visited the market with your mummy and khala (aunt), three months ago. You smiled over the thought.

Then while you were still on your way to the shop, when you saw two ‘uncles’ driving a white big car very fast in the rush of people and you thought they might knock you off. You screamed out of fear and pulled the hand of your mummy who was looking on the other side. The ‘uncles’ car narrowly missed you and your mother. You saw your mother’s face turned pale. Then you hear loud noises of gun-battle just like you saw that in a TV program last week. Your mother hurriedly pushed you on the road and rolled herself all over you. Your head bumped against the road and was hurting, you cried in pain but your mother would cover your eyes and face with her hands and asked you to stay there. Then all of a sudden there was a loud explosion, you felt something very hot hit your ankle and it seemed your heart stopped beating and your ears couldn’t listen anymore. The nearby shops also turned into rubble. Soon it was all over dark in your head!

Some time might have passed when you opened your eyes again. In the hazy light you saw somebody was trying to pull you from your shoulders. Soon a severe pain hit you in your left leg. You screamed and screamed calling your mummy who was not covering your eyes and face anymore with her hands. She was no where around. It was hard to breath and the stinking smell was there all over. Even in the extreme pain your eyes were searching for your mummy. When all of a sudden you saw your mummy sleeping on the road covering her body with white cloth which had big red patches here and there. You could see her half-covered face with some blood spot on the left cheek and long line of blood starting from her ear and still dripping on her neck. You cried ”Pick up my mummy, she is hurt, I want to go to my mummy, leave me”.

But then somebody picked you up and started walking to an ambulance. On your way you saw so many other women and girls were also sleeping under the same white cloth as your mother had one. Before they put you in the van, you saw the same blue-eyed doll on the road and her legs and beautiful hair got burned. Barely you could still see its smiling face when all of a sudden your head walked back into the darkness, and you felt nothing afterwards

[Six months later]

It was a nice sunny day outside. Your khala called you from the kitchen to get up. You got up lazily and tried to drag yourself to the other end of the bed, somebody parked your chair with big wheels on the wrong side of the bed. Four months ago when doctors sent you home from hospital they told your father that you would be using that big wheels chair for the rest of your life because they had to cut your leg from the ankle after that big explosion day. Your mother never got back home again. Everyone told you that she has gone to “Allah Mian”. You wonder, she just wanted to go to the market to buy her the doll, how come she instead went to “Allah Mian”? This makes you cry, you miss her. You miss your friends too, who no longer play with you because you can’t run and walk like them.