Bhasha – the word rolled round Rahat’s mouth like a sour plum. In the tongue of his familial roots, it meant home – a place where you belonged.
The word was however lost to Rahat. The Great War between Pakistan and India had spread even to the small village Norkapon. He was drafted into the militia, and packed off with hundreds of impressionable young men into the maws of war. Rahat was tough like his people however, and now he has returned to the place of his birth. His Bhasha however, was no longer the home that was stolen from him. The exterior ran rampant with weed, the hearth was cold and uncaring, and vines gripped the windows like terrible green claws.
Tears trickled down the scars on Rahat face as he remembered the lost memories of his home, his bhasha, lost forever, like mirages in the rain; lost forever, lost to the Great War.
Kneeling in front of the dusty entrance of his father’s house, shivering with nothing but a singlet and a longhee; Rahat embraced the cold and empty hallway. The concrete foundations of his house had been the remnants of his family’s legacy; they had the only concrete floor in the village. Father was so proud of it, he boasted to every guest who had ever marvelled at its smooth polished exterior. Now it was only a cold stone floor, reflecting the coldness that glimmered in Rahat’s forlorn heart. His Bhasha was no more.
Rahat made his way into the darkness of the abandoned house. As his hand ran along the concrete foundations of the corridor, a thousand memories flashed through his mind like the flicking of moving pictures. Rahat wistfully reached the end of the corridor. At its end was a broken door that looked out into a small extension. This was the kitchen, and its clay walls still retained the nostalgic scent of his mother’s homely cooking.
Soon, the memories of his mother’s paratas and korma curries had smoked their way up Rahat’s nostrils, intoxicating him with the memories of engaging dinnertimes and early morning breakfasts. Through the kitchen window, Rahat looked up to the sky and watched, as the stars glistened upon the background of the dark night’s sky, like the jewels on his mother’s favourite evening cotton sari.
Across from the shattered wooden frames of broken panes that overlooked into the garden, Rahat could see his brother playing gleefully as their mother cooked in the kitchen. Father had once kept an herb patch in the garden, and Rahat and his brother religiously tended to it. They had even expanded it with seeds taken from trader who frequented the village. Carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and even strange foreign fruits like oranges dotted the backyard patch like a verdant forest of Cornucopia. Father had also kept a cow, albeit away from his precious garden. Sharukh, the most prominent movie star of their age, was the name of their bovine companion. Rahat and his brother were made to milk Sharukh daily. Milk was a precious and rare commodity in the village.
A gust of wind clawed its way into the house towards Rahat and blew into his ears, filling him with a tingling sensation of both nostalgia and delight. Almost mesmerised by his calm surroundings, Rahat couldn’t help but to feel a soulful sensation of blissful mourning.
The breeze also brought with it the melancholic scent of less pleasant memories such as cleaning after Sharukh in the sweat of sweltering summer.
“Moo!” Sharukh would say; as Rahat and his brother toiled with grimaces on their faces. “Moo?”
The deep moo of a too-familiar cow brought Rahat back to reality. As he looked outside the kitchen window he could see the whip of a familiar tail. It turned around, now facing Rahat, with her coal-black eyes two pools of liquid staring into him with penetrating bovine recognition.
Sharukh responded by lolling her tongue and nudging her master’s hips. Large gobs of saliva dribbled from her mouth in cowed excitement. It mooed several times and rubbed its wet brown nose over Rahat’s singlet; leaving large marks of wet grassy green.
The ends of Rahat’s lips began to curl and the wrinkles on his face creased. The warmth of a thousand memoires assailed Rahat at once as he realises the task that lies ahead of him.
Rahat slowly tilted his head towards the house towering over the backyard. “This is our Bhasha!” he proclaimed, feeling the belonging that he rekindled with his ancestral home.
“I am home Sharukh!” He pronounced triumphantly, digging his face into the soft brown fur of his beloved animal.
“This is the same home it once used to be”, thought Rahat to himself, walking into the garden and embracing his old friend. “This is my home and it is my duty to bring it back to life. This hearth is my life.”
Rahat walked proudly towards the entrance of his homestead and knelt once again upon the rock-based floor. With one sweet kiss, Rahat blessed the floor of his historic property, acknowledging its all-powerful connection to who he is, and his place in the world.
Naheed – 2009
This scored admirably in a decent school with top 50 rankings. It achieved Band 5, but with more revision could have made it into Band 6. The narrative is original and intuitive, but rather brutal in its attack of the Belonging context. Good uses of synonyms to avoid the repetitive belonging catchphrase. Lots of language techniques, with the best been the motif of home via the word Basha, and symbolism through the cow. However, the Indian significance of the Cow as a holy animal/guardian of the home is likely lost on the marker because of lack of clarification. Good use of synesthesia with plenty of vivid imagery both aural and sensual to back up the visual. Shows good understanding of belonging, but lacks dynamic of connection and disconnection to be truly up there with the Band 6 narratives. Nice use of both truncated, short, and complex sentences, but trouble with tense confusion. Easily 11 – 12, likely 13, unlikely 14, and definitely not a 15/15.