Short-story: Guardians of the valley (part-2)

You can read the first part here:

“You are late for school!” This was my morning ritual. Something I said every day. She woke up early but never got to school on time. After a quick breakfast of oatmeal it was always the same – she’d run into the backyard and do what she loved most – gardening. A sixteen year old gardener is hard to come by but that’s who she was. A little bundle of quirks you’d be crazy not to love.

After dropping her off, I drove home, lost in my thoughts, overcome by gratitude. Another morning ritual. Exactly five years ago, my life had changed completely – for the second time. People called me crazy. And they weren’t wrong. I left a successful career, in other words my entire life, to look for Aminah. Instead of preparing for the worst, I hoped for a miracle.

The girl who had wiped away my tears that day in the tea shop, was Anya. We got off on the wrong foot. But maybe my lost smile, or hopeful tears had changed her mind. The tea shop owner was her uncle. Anya had lost her parents to the 2010 floods so he took care of her now. “What’s wrong bibi ji?” He had asked that day. I wasn’t ready yet. I just shook my head and left. I tried locating Aminah’s family but I was told they had left for good. I came back to the tea shop every day. Anya showed me her tiny home on banks of the river. Grey, lifeless cement peaked through the cracked white paint. A small porch outside the house had two flimsy pillars that supported the structure. Outside the porch was a small home garden Anya’s uncle planted vegetables and flowers in. Anya would spend hours telling me about the tiny garden. I was never into gardening, but her enthusiasm was contagious. She made me forget.

A week had passed and I had dropped all hopes of finding Aminah. A part of me almost believed that she never really existed. Daggers pierced through my head, as I drank tea in the tea shop. Anya’s uncle came to my table and sat down. ‘You are always very sad my child. Life is too short for your long tears.’ I sobbed and told him the entire story. He patted my head and said it would be all right. I cried until my tears dried up. When Anya came, she took me by the hand to her garden where we talked to the plants.

The next day Anya’s uncle came up to me and said just one thing. ‘I know where Aminah is.’ The camera I was holding fell to the floor. Before I could say a word, he went inside. It was the longest minute of my life. He came back holding Anya’s hand. ‘Here she is’. Between adoption papers and rebirth of a precious soul, I had witnessed my miracle.

I found Aminah. This time I wasn’t letting go. Ever.





  1. ummezahra · June 23, 2014

    it’s the hopeful stories born around disastrous time that give one the ability and strength to move past the tragedies. I’ve never been to Kalaam (i think) but my husband took me to many of the northern areas of Pakistan after we got married. It was beautiful beyond words. I thought I would finally see Swat and the many picturesque places I had heard about but our vacation was just a few months after the disastrous earthquake of 2005 and many of the sites were closed off. I could see some infrastructure destruction from the points we were able to go upto. It was just surreal more than anything… Surely there were many Aminahs’ but some Anya’s. Nicely done Nida…


    • Nida S. · June 23, 2014

      Oh it is a magical city. I hear tourism is getting better there but with the current internal war on terrorism, things might have changed again.
      ‘Surely there were many Aminahs’ but some Anya’s.’

      If only it were the other way around.


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