Heard and Overheard Tales
Over the years, I've heard and overheard quite a few stories that I felt I could make into good fiction. However, for a variety of reasons, I wasn't able to. If you want to use any of the following stories, feel free to do so. Happy reading!
I heard a man relate this story on a TV talk show:
Someone he knew was sitting in his parked car with his son (a small child). He saw a man and a woman standing at some distance from them. The woman wore a veil over her nose and mouth and there was something very strange about her eyes. This woman and the man with her talked to each other for a few minutes and then walked away. Feeling a little uneasy, the man in the car asked his son what he thought of the man and the woman who had been standing there talking to each other.
‘They weren’t talking to each other,’ said the boy. ‘They were talking to you. You were also standing there talking to them.’
Faith in God
I overheard a sales assistant telling this tale:
"He decided to set up his own garment factory and learnt he would need at least five million rupees. He told me what he learnt next was who his real friends were. Some of his friends immediately handed him as much as 500 grand and some of them made excuses and gave him nothing. Anyway, he managed to get the sum he needed. Unfortunately, at the very start something went terribly wrong: his garment factory was supposed to have made medium-sized clothes but had actually made them small-sized. It looked like the end of the road for him.
Just then he received a phone call from a man placing an order for all the clothes he had in small size.
He told him that he could fulfill the order at once but could sell them only in the price of medium-sized clothes or he would incur a loss.
No problem, the man placing the order told him. Just send over the clothes ASAP.
It just shows that if God is with you, then nothing can stop you from succeeding."
When my great-grandfather’s grave was being dug, an acquaintance of his passed by. Make sure you dig that man a deep grave, he remarked. He was such a querulous man, there’s a good chance he’ll come back from the dead to get back at someone he didn’t like.
My great-grandfather was first buried in Pakistan; his body was exhumed six months later and reburied in India for religious reasons. The man who’d asked that his grave be dug deep died on the same day and was buried in what had been my great-grandfather’s grave.
(My idea was to make the man who makes the mean remark a tree thief. While stealing a tree from the graveyard, he accidentally falls into what is now an empty hole in the ground, is found dead the next day, and then buried in the same grave.)
Stones Flying In
I heard this story from a colleague:
This happened in our Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. A young boy lost his father and, realizing that the child’s life was in grave danger since his paternal relatives stood to gain a lot of property if he also died, his maternal relatives sent him to live with trustworthy friends of theirs. The next day, at the house of these friends, a stone flew through a window and nearly hit the child. Shortly after that another followed. Again, it nearly hit the child. Then it happened again.
The owners of the house asked their neighbors if they were doing it. The neighbors robustly protested their innocence, asking why they'd want to do something like that.
The next day, more stones flew in. Each stone would nearly hit the child but never actually hit him. By the end of the week so many stones were flying in that it was like a hailstorm. Frightened, the family sent the boy back to his maternal relatives. The stones stopped flying in.
I overheard this on a bus:
‘The bridegroom died of a heart attack on the wedding night. The food prepared for the valima was served to the mourners instead.'
(Note: A valima is a feast that usually takes place on the day after the wedding itself.)
My sister told me this story and she heard it from a teacher.
An old man and three schoolgirls were seated in a horse-drawn carriage. The road was dangerous and the girls started screaming in fear. The old man told them there was no point in screaming and being afraid since any moment could be your last.
Old Man: A week ago, on this very road, a young man was riding his motorbike. In front of him was a tractor-trawler. A woman was sitting in the trawler. The young man noticed that there was a snake beside her. He moved past the truck and motioned to the driver to stop.
The driver stopped. The young man told him what he had seen. The driver and the young man went round to the back of the truck where the woman was sitting frozen with fear. The snake had crawled up her leg. The driver had a large shawl in his truck. He used it to make a curtain behind which the woman could take her trousers off.
The woman slipped off her trousers, grabbed the snake, and threw it away from herself with all her force. Because the curtain had blocked her vision, unbeknownst to her, she had thrown it straight at the motorbike rider. The snake bit him and he soon died because of its venom.
The Blind Man
Two men seated behind me on a horse-drawn carriage talking to each other:
First Man: I have worked for an eye doctor for twenty years. How ironic that now that I am in danger of losing my own eyesight, I can’t afford the treatment I need.
Second Man: Things could be worse. Look at me.
When the second man got off, I turned my head to look at him to see what he meant. He had a white-tipped cane for the blind in his hand.
This story was related to me by my paternal aunt who lives in the UK.
A colleague of her husband had terminal cancer. One night, he heard a voice in a dream say, "He will be shifted on [insert date here]." He died two days before the date told in the dream.
The bereft family was told that they could not take his body away at that time because he had died just as the weekday shift ended. This meant that they would have to wait until it returned after the weekend or two days later. "He will be shifted," the hospital staff told them, "on [insert date here]."
© 2020 Aishatu Ali