It was raining that day.
The streets from Johar to North Nazimabad had flooded. We reached school an hour late and I remember someone offering me a hand. Someone carrying my bag. Was it Talib lala? I cannot be sure.
I was nine years old. I remember skipping across the puddles. The “red area” had been cast with the green light from the shade which was dripping wet. It had slowed to a drizzle then.
Class IV-G was the same class which would be next to the IX-G of 2009. I could hear a voice from inside the classroom. Slightly panting and somewhat embarrassed at being late (Ammi could not have driven any faster. Calm down. It’s no one’s fault).
Mrs. Durrani was reading aloud to the class a beautiful story from a newly published issue of Hiba Magazine. She smiled when I entered the class and (thankfully) went on with the story.
I still remember what she read. Perhaps the story had been published as an Internet Find – they used to do that in those days. Again, I cannot be sure. But it definitely went something along these lines
Cut the Rope
The story is told of a mountain climber who desperately wanted to conquer the Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Argentine Andes. He initiated his climb after years of preparation. Because he wanted the glory all to himself, he went up alone.
As the day passed and it began to get dark, he did not stop to camp for the night but kept going. Night fell. There was no moon. Clouds covered the stars. Visibility was zero. Everything was black.
As the climber neared a ridge at about a hundred meters from the top, he slipped and fell into the total darkness below. In those anguishing moments when he was in free fall, memories flashed through his mind, both good and bad. He was certain he would die.
But then a jolt almost tore him in half. Like any sensible mountain climber, he had used pitons and a long rope tied around his waist to stake himself to the mountain. The top piton held, and the rope broke his fall.
He groped in the darkness for the side of the mountain, but it was out of reach. In the terrifying moments that followed, as he hung suspended, he cried out in desperation, “Help me, God! Help me! “. Then he heard a voice from Heaven. ” Cut the rope!”
” Cut the rope!”
More stillness followed, as the man held all the tighter and swung slowly back and forth, hoping in vain to make contact with the side of the mountain.
Other climbers found him the next day, still hanging from the mountain, frozen to death … two feet above a wide ledge. Unseen by him, the ledge would have been a safe spot where he could have dropped, recovered, built a small fire for warmth, and camped for the night.
That was the day I knew for sure that I wanted to be either a writer or be written about. I thought the former was something I could start at that very age. That was the day I knew I wanted my stories to be read aloud in classrooms.