The first time I met Isa and Lisa was when I woke up from a dream at midnight. I could not see Isa much… She faded away from my vision, a wispy, silvery-white haired child with strange light eyes. But Lisa grew vivid. She was a dark girl sitting on my bed with her braided hair looped on the sides of her head and tied with bright orange ribbons. The ribbons were made into florets. She solidified into a dark young girl of about six, wearing a bright orange cotton blouse and a stiff white and rust skirt with big floral prints. She had tawny eyes and they were tear-filled as she vehemently cried to be sent home.
Home was Lahore.
She had been there more than seventy years ago. She should have been an old woman by now. But, no, absurdly, she was a child who insisted on being a part of the story I was trying to write. I could not see her fit in, but she cried — one, to return home and, two, to be allowed into my novel.
I asked her to tell me her story. Like a spoilt child, she shook her head and refused to cooperate. I offered her a candy. She took it but did not tell me her story. Then I struck upon an idea and told her that I would help her get to Lahore if she told me a little about herself and also gave me some details of her life. Finally, I think I managed to convince her.
Lisa stopped crying. She had a small bag with her. She took out a slate and a chalk from her bag, wiped the slate and drew a picture, the picture of a two-storey house. ‘Is that your home?’
She nodded vehemently.
‘So, that is your home. How do we get there if you don’t have the address?’ I asked.
Lisa took my hand and made me touch the door of the house.
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