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A Stray Leaf

Very early in the morning, Sa'eed woke up from his sleep. He felt as if his brain was being squeezed out, just the way he used to press water out of the sponge after the washing up. His head was heavy and his mind was feeling numb from lack of sleep. To go back to sleep was impossible. Dreams, once broken, couldn't be threaded back into sequence. The intoxication of non-awareness was not easily obtained. Short spells of sleep is a curse in old age.

Sa'eed switched on the lamp and looked at the time. It was six in the morning. Like every other day he gazed at the smooth white pillow beside him. He sighed deeply. Once, on that very pillow, his late wife's head used to rest. When he wanted to wake her up, he would gently brush the locks from her forehead. If she desired to lie a little longer in bed, she would place his hand under her warm cheek and closed her eyes. Otherwise she would calmly walk to the kitchen to fetch two cups of tea. Half propped up in the bed they would talk and plan their day. But his wife was not there anymore. Since her death, four years ago, the other half of the bed was unoccupied. There, he was alone by himself, to bear the burden of passing days, with the memories of the past.

Till late last evening he had kept awake and anxiously waited for the usual Friday call from his son. But, he was having a farewell party in his office before taking a new job in America. Every Friday evening they usually talked over the phone - the only means of keeping in touch with each other while living apart in different cities. His son would tell him his plans for the weekend. Then his grandchildren and his English daughter-in-law would say hello to him. That used to make him feel part of the family having his weekend with them. But, that was not the case last evening.........................