‘Love, war and panache always leave their traces, Zulfiqar.’ said Mubashir almost fifteen years ago.

Zulfiqar had been living a life that none in his circle might have expected for him. Once a great stone trader, Zulfiqar had seen a long yet fast journey from riches to rags. His house had been an exemplar of mouth jarring edifice. It was floored with a stone that only few in his country, Manoolia, could think to buy. One could get it inside the lava full mountain. And only he, in his country, owned the machines to take them out from the warmth of lava.

His house was still littered with all the magazines he had been on. ‘Stone Man’ they used to call him. His wife stared at her favorite one. A black tie, white shirt and gray suit. A briefcase in his hand and a bracelet which had a stone over it. She smiled every time she gazed at it. That smile turned to weeps when the magazine took her back to her palace. She dreamt of her kids playing in the foyer. Remote controls in their hands. Changing the wall color.

Orange. Yellow. Blue. Green.

‘Aisha, where are the kids’ asked Zulfiqar.

‘They were playing with other kids outside’ said Aisha. Wiping her tears.

Zulfiqar embraced her in his arms. Everything will be okay, they both chanted.

‘I am still the stone-man’ said Zulfiqar. Quivering. ‘See’ he showed the same lucky bracelet he had with him. Placed a bag full of stones in the corner of his two room building.


 

He turned the geezer on and marveled at the sun shining in the sky. Fervent and bold. Warmth of it, consoling his skin tissues. He gasped the cold air, refreshing every part of him.

‘Breakfast is ready’ said Aisha.

‘Coming’ he said and looked at the glaring sun one more time.

It reminisced him of his life that glistened like the sun. Dimming all the stars around.


 

He tossed the bag on his shoulder and started lurching with the drill in a factory that he owned once. This and many others.

‘Quick sand’ someone said there.

‘It’s not a game of kids’ said the other man.

‘But you get the treasure in return’ said the person behind Zulfiqar. Craning in between the two.

‘It’s a myth’ said the first person and galloped away, hauling his bag of stones.

Zulfiqar traded few stones he had and got a compensation enough for today’s food. Children’s education was funded by the government. All they missed was their space room where they could control the gravity. They liked swimming in the air, poking each other and taking photos at which their friends marveled. They had space suits and shoes that now they could only watch on TV.

He returned home with a silver of money and food that kids craved. Every night, he would dream of magic, witches, wizards and ways to disentangle his family from poverty and hunger. He had learned to cry without shedding a single tear. Sticking a smile on his face, he would weep in his heart. Seeing his wife cry, kids crave and his body going down, he would think of mysterious way outs. Quick Sand he would repeat every morning. He remembered the face of one of those who discussed about the Quick Sand. He kept thinking about the treasure, that it might be the way out from this misery.

He started believing in what people said. That there was a treasure which someone from the Rufani family had dug in the time of battle and died. Quick sand was in acres and no company not even Government organizations tried to replace the sand or suck out the water from that area. Few gypsies tried their tricks but failed miserably. It sucked in myriads of people looking for the treasure.

Years of workmanship and hardships flushed away the wistful wishes from his wife and children’s minds. They learned to enjoy their life in what they had. Aisha would weave sweaters in cold and children would play in the municipality garden instead of their space room. The smiles they lost somewhere were again on their faces. Everyone but Zulfiqar had made a deal with their life.

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