Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stroking the Pain Away

Category: Life

Returning to the city from my hometown, I was shaken by the constant cries of an infant held by a woman seated along with other women from her family in the coach’s rear row. The child looked hardly five months old and was crying aloud so unceasingly that I feared he’d be exhausted to death. Silently, I wished him a peaceful sleep sometime soon. Some ten minutes after the coach started its journey, the child stopped crying, but only for a few minutes. His pain, whatever its cause, returned and the crying started again. I turned back in my seat and asked the man escorting the family what was wrong with the infant. He said it was some illness not understood or explained to him. I started wishing the child peace again.

As we traveled ahead, the child kept crying while taking brief intervals of silence. But I learnt that my wish was not the only, or even at all, a cause of the child’s moments of peace. A woman (I couldn’t see whether it was the mother or another in the family) had some metallic object (probably a drinking vessel) at which she stroked rhythmically with her fingers to produce a musical sound – a lullaby for soothing the child. And in that stuffy coach, this simple art seemed to work for a while. It hushed the child, offering a few minutes of relief before the pain would claw at his peace again.

The man leading the infant’s family kept telling that the child had been so for the past some days. He had been taken to a few local doctors but their prescriptions had failed in relieving the child’s pain and crying. Now he was going to take him to the city. Upon the advice of the men sitting around him, he chose to cut his travel short and got off the coach, along with the family, to take the child to a child specialist in Kohat town (that falls between Hangu and Peshawar).

I took a look to see the crying infant on the shoulder of the woman and wished him relief from pain. Onwards, I kept trying to relive the musical sound of the woman’s rhythmic strokes on the metal to help ease my headache that I had got already due to the bumpy travel along the rough road.