It was cloudy that evening, it may pour, he thought to himself as he sat by the window of his room. There was a mirror on the other wall. He would occasionally look back and see himself, often in admiration. He looked outside the window at the clouds heaving a sigh of relief. Rain may be able to distract him from the bloodshed and the conflicts raging in his neighbourhood. The ones he loved were clashing with swords and emotions, this time over the self proclaimed and often contested superiority of their respective revered gods. A god man had earlier said that his god was powerful and the only one in the world, to which his rival called him an infidel and the whole town was on fire.
But not him, no god had ever pleased him. He grew up struggling with making his ends meet, often using the same god’s promise of redemption to seek pennies from strangers. Religions would change, a temple or a mosque, depending on the festival in fashion. A sickness raged in these places, he would often worry. Ignorance and false gods had infested the halls of the abode of the all mighty. His life was not worth the very gods he had misused for money.
Hiding behind his locked doors and sneaking a view from the window, he could see his own friends cut themselves to pieces in the name of heaven which awaited their delusional souls.
Closed windows may raise suspicion. He maybe dragged down and compelled to choose a side, something he was not only scared to do, but also detested at many levels.
Night was slowly approaching as the darkness gripped the burning city. The clouds had commenced the occasional roar, loud enough to mark their presence in his mind.
He sat on his favourite chair and took out his pouch of tobacco. He was earlier in a holy city and had spotted this fine tobacco which the merchants are proud to boast.
He rolled the tobacco and lit his first cigaret of the night. He had shut the lights. He did not want to be seen at any cost. It had started raining as the tobacco burned. He could almost hear the faint crumbling sound of the fire engulfing his cigaret. It was almost like a child trying to sneak through a forest in the fall. Noone could hear him, the child thought, if he could walk carefully through the sea of dry leaves. His innocence and naivety had always frustrated him. It was almost as if he was envious of the child’s carefree walk. A sense of paranoia had surrounded him since the morning when frantic news of the first clashed had emerged.
The city had turned into a herd of madmen. Savages who would murder the innocents over a godman’s word. He couldn’t say any better about his own self. Open windows and locked doors with all lights shut, he was anxious for his life as each moment passed.
But now he was getting relaxed as the tobacco scorched and he inhaled. He could still hear the clouds and the rain as the leaves crumpled beneath the child’s innocence.
He had now closed his eyes. There was only a candle lit in his room, which he had now decided to abandon hoping his closed eyes may take him to another world. A world he was a part of only a few years back, when his city was a happier place to be in, despite his personal trials and tribulations.
A sharp scream disrupted his journey as he jumped back to reality. It was a woman, he speculated. He did not have the courage to even move an inch. He carefully put out the candle as a faint thread of smoke emerged from the wick. The bright orange sparked had faded into darkness. The scream only got louder as seconds passed. He hadn’t heard these screams in a long time. He would often be dragged to the local police stations where he could hear women scream. They were abducted from the nearby brothels, stripped off their dignity in the name of arrests and rule of law. Rule of law, he thought was the only outrageous delusion besides religion corrupting the once peaceful valley. Cedar wood covered in the morning mist, turning to droplets shining with the sun. The road to the valley was full of beauty and promise. The wilderness around the city was the real charm, now a safe haven for the monsters. The child, he thought would never walk through the dry leaves in his forefathers’ forests.
Those screams had scarred him for years, waking him up in his bed, fearing that a policeman may vent his frustration by mercilessly beating the helpless children. The woman’s scream had almost thrown him back to the prison walls, he was desperate.
The scream had now turned into banging on his own doors, howling and begging him to take her in. He had frozen in his place. He quietly hid behind the doors, in case the rioting party broke into his house. A few minutes passed by as the screams fainted into silence. He could now hear men rejoicing. Her dignity was taken away, he was certain but maybe they spared her life. He wanted to now take her in as he heard the herd leave, but what if they returned. He would wait till the sunrise or for the police, whichever arrived earlier and only then open the door. He closed his eyes, yet again, this time in shame and fear. He was shaking, fearing for his own life, hidden behind the door and then in another room. He had closed his eyes and curled up like a child feeling cold. He had seen winter nights in prison on a few occasions.
He could hear the murmurs of the female voice as he could hear the clouds earlier in the night. Both were only loud enough to mark their presence. it was as if the murmurs and crying was marking her being and torturing his soul piece by piece, moment by moment. He was now crying softly, it was as if he his voice was taken away as tears were leaving the corner of his eyes. A loud cry may attract attention. It seemed that even his rawest emotions of fear and sorrow were muted by his cowardice.
Gripped by the fear of death and his mutilated memories of an abused childhood, he lay there curled up in a dark corner of his room. Who could she be, he couldn’t help but wonder. Did she pick a god’s side. Is it possible that her brothers were perpetrating the same horrors on others. Did she deserve to suffer this gruesome scenario.
He could somehow never sympathise with the idea of destiny and worthiness. Did he deserve an abandoned childhood, did he deserve the prisons or did they deserve to be raped. His ability to sympathise was numbed by his own sufferings. He knew it is what it is and no god, god man or man could profess otherwise.
Whoever she was suffered a violent end and a discourse on whether she deserved the same would be irrelevant, just like he had suffered and nothing could change that reality.
A strange heaviness was coming over his eyes and he would soon fall asleep into the most peaceful world of fiction his dreams could take him too. A strange heaviness was coming over her eyes and she would soon pass into oblivion outside his house crying for help.
He woke up with the sun rays piercing his open windows and he moved away from the corner. He was just stretching his arms as he recalled the woman’s ordeal which his ears could hear. The incident and already entrenched into his memories. He could soon hear sirens of police cards and stormed out of his house to see the face of the woman he could have saved.
The first sight of the woman’s face shattered whatever was left of his soul. He broke into tears this time louder than the prior night as he inspected the familiar eyes of the woman. It was his own friend he had once promised to save from the brothel. She had comforted him during the winter nights in prison despite her own struggled. He was to be forever indebted to his surrogate lover and had promised to save her from this hell the moment he could.
His own struggles had taken him away from the city for sometime. His jilted lover now forgotten in the corners of the city he once called home. He searched for her once he came back only to find failure and disappointment.
He saw her eyes, with his own now filled with regret and tears. He held her face, which was covered in blood mixed with mud and sat there. He sat there with his cries, turning into a faint smile and a chuckle. He stood up and abandoned her corpse one last time into his house, to the room he had made is sanctuary. He went to the dark corner and curled back into his bubble, never to be heard again. His destiny had finally muted him, forever.