This was a moment before they flung the autumn leaves at me.
Just before they walked us down the mountain from their secret place at the top of Bhatupura. Just a few minutes before they carved our names into the special rocks up there. Where they argued with us with small broken hearts. Where we chased them over hills and through pine trees. Trying to make amends. Sayma flung her shoes at me and scrambled up the stones barefoot, uncaring. I couldn’t catch her if I tried. Where Zeeshan, our boy-becoming a dashing man tackled Haroon with that hysterical high pitched laugh, and they rolled down the grass, white flowers in their hair. I couldn’t catch them, even when Haroon tried to let me (dear, dear Haroon, the hero of every story). Ajaz, gangly, sincere jock with the softest of hearts beat away at the rock with his hammer, chipping our names into eternity. He cried, the loudest, of the big boys, I remember.
‘We will build your houses here.’ They laid the first white stones. Satisfied with the foundations.
The sun was setting, a chill in the air as dusk settled on those mountains. Where was Basharat that day? In the fields below? Angry, perhaps. Such heavy hearts, pulling down the curtain of the day. As we got ready to leave we made a promise to them. In the light through the trees, they listened in their intent way. A plan established, a deal made. They walked us down smiling,with their heavy hearts, pledging allegiance, flinging white flowers at us.
‘Confetti. They call this confetti.’
They climbed a tree and this was a moment before they flung the autumn leaves at me. Laughing, as little boys do. Caught in this moment. My heart bursting with love.