I was standing in front of a wooden door on the porch of an old Victorian building. A flimsy mask made of rusting iron was hanging from it. It’s been a while since I had been observing the peculiar shape of the mask. I found it puzzling because I had never quite heard of any creature like this one before. It had an elongated top with wide sides, rounding at the bottom. From afar, it resembled the ‘screw you’ symbol that was rather popular among the youth. Only on closer inspection had I realized that it was a face. It had a single eye at the base of the elongated end. A snout tapering into a sharp end was dangling from its centre.
Another drop of sweat originating from the depths of my skull found its way to my temple. The night was too hot for my liking and I could hear the vultures gathering. I hated them because of their ‘eating the dead’ habit. I mean shouldn’t they respect the deceased?
Thanks to the vultures, a tremendous urgency to enter the house grew upon me. I had already tried the doorbell with no fruitful results. In my desperation, I leaned closer to that gruesome face on the door. That was when the eye blinked at me. Surprisingly, instead of running away, I blinked back at it or perhaps was it a wink. The door, however, remained unmoved by this eye contact.
Then I glanced at the end of the snout. Its silver sharp end gleamed in the moonlight. Whatever, I thought and placed the tip of my left hand’s index finger against its razor-sharp end. I closed my eyes and let the steel cut deep through my skin.
“Ow ow,” my howling pierced the silence of the night. I could not open my eyes. Plop, the sound of my blood falling on the floor haunted me.
And then I heard a clicking sound, and I knew the door was open. The familiar death of smell welcomed me. It was only when I heard movement, did I chance a peek. A skeletal hand was reaching for me and before I could do anything about it, they had shoved me inside the house.
“Every firkin’ year,”, I heard a woman say, “Open your eyes, you sissy.”
There was nothing I could do about it anymore. When the dead Grandma tells you to open your eyes, you must oblige.
“Happy Halloween”, an uncountable number of dead people greeted me.
I sighed, removed my coat, and went to hug my Grandma. Our bones made the classic clang that meant it was a cold-hug. My favourite type of hugs!
“What is that thing at the door, Grandma?”, I asked her.
“That is your young cousin’s take on the Jack-o’-lantern. He thought it needed some spicing up,”, she told me, “If you ask me, your aunt should not have let him study fine arts. I mean what is wrong with the dark arts?”
Before I could reply, the party had sounded the gong. It was time. The air rang with screeching sounds as fingernails from all over the world scraped on chalkboards.
My imaginary skin that I kept to avoid boredom in the living world had vanished. I was among my people!
I was walking. It was a huge crowd — lots and lots of people. Most of them were adults — people in their 30’s and 40’s, you know. There were a few children as well — hopping along the crowd. They were too few, though, but it did not matter. Children only matter if they are going to grow up and this group here was not destined to be adults — lucky bastards!
The majority of these adults were women with a dozen or so males following them like slaves follow their masters. I think the only reason these males were kept alive was for mating so they could produce the children who would never grow to become adults.
She was there too — the love of my life, walking in the front row. She was their leader, being the most beautiful woman in the crowd. I, on the other hand, was stuck in the last row — among the ugliest men. I was not ugly, though. However, being handsome was not an advantage for me because I was made impotent. I was useless. Why were they keeping me alive? Perhaps she has told them to do it. Did she love me? But that was impossible. She was the reason behind my castration!
He was still bleeding when they found him. The gruesome weapon in his hands was shining with crimson blood. He was sitting on the toilet seat. The rescuers could see a severely mutilated reproductive organ but there was no acknowledgement of pain in his brown eyes. They were empty — he was a vegetable!
A doctor and a patient’s family were deep in discussion. Patient #102 was their main concern.
“I think some event has triggered his otherwise inactive gene, which is responsible for creating a chemical imbalance in his mind”, the doctor was saying, “Are you 100% sure he had never had any traumatic experience of being sexually assaulted?”
“Never”, said the father, his voice betraying a shade of hurting pride.
“I am not sure”, intervened his wife.
She looked around. Everybody was staring at her now. Her eyes were brimming with tears of pain and hurt.
He is so young — only 18, she thought and a sob skipped her.
“I…I think it has something to do with Katrina”, she was shaking all over her body as she said this. Her son had been staying at the house of his recently widowed aunt. They had sent him to comfort her and her little daughter and help them around, as they were new in town.
“You mean to say”, her husband’s paternal love was transforming into intense anger as he said, “She did something to him to…”
He failed to complete the sentence.
On the dark curtain of his mind, the same film was being played on repeat. He was the star of this movie — the hero and the villain.
He was standing in a dimly lit room — naked, ready to commit the felony again. The beauty standing in front of him — scared out of her wits, was not his aunt. It was his angelic cousin — the love of his life!
Then something happened!
She exposed his villainy. The penalty was to suffer from insufferable madness. He was to stay stuck in one horrific moment for the rest of his life.
Words are losing their value and meaning because people are murdered without reason.
We are laughing while at the exact moment some mother is losing her child.
Desentisized inhumane humans—this is who we really are. I will still care for my own petty agendas and desires. I will still not put others above myself. I am still not human. I will still be hesitant before giving when I do not have the assurity that I will get something in return. Where is my faith?
Where is my kindness?
Where is my humanity?
Where is my sympaathy?
Where is my empathy?
I sit comfortably while my people are burning.
I see my reflection in the mirror. I smile. I see white pearls carefully set in an open red box. It is my mouth. There are wrinkles around my eyes, two huge almonds. I take a step back and take in the complete image. A smiling girl stares back at me. It is supposed to be me but it just cannot be!
I do not smile, not anymore!
There was a time when I would laugh all day or so my parents tell me. I do not remember it. No matter how hard I try to imagine myself laughing, I fail. It had never happened, I am sure. It is impossible just as it is impossible that a man with a gun, killing innocent people, can have a heart. As long as they are devoid of hearts, I am devoid of a smile. My parent must be lying just as the governments and important people all over the world lie,when they claim to have hearts.
Killing machines may have power, glory, wealth, resources and even beauty but hearts? No! My parents are happy-well as happy as they can be after losing so much. I mean my mother often cries at night and I know she is thinking of her dead brother and father often stops talking whenever there is even the slightest chance that my sister’s name might come up. He changes the topic faster than bullets kill people in my city. By the way, my sister was raped right in front of his eyes.
And my city? I have no city. I am a refugee.
My parents are thankful. Maybe they have forgotten Amineh, Nur, Zeynep, Manjural Islam, Zaman and of course, Muhammad. They have forgotten them because all these people had hearts. People with hearts die and they are forgotten.
My parents are relieved. They have finally found a place to sit still. Who could blame them? after we have been rejected by various countries in the world; we were on the brink of death. I often felt like the first piece of bread that nobody would want and keep shifting until it reaches the bottom. Nobody in my family used to eat it and it usually ended up as crumbs. I would gladly eat it now except I do not get any, anymore.
My parents are happy to be that piece of bread but sometimes I wish I had long turned into the crumbs because the girl in the mirror does not smile!
She claimed to have fallen for me,
everyone at the college said so.
I was not sure.
I saw her eyes,
when they were on mine
into a brightest star I once saw
from the roof of my home
oh my humble home
The smallest place to dwell
and I heard a bell!
she only loved
my borrowed clothes,
my stolen boots,
My shiny watch
from a wealthy cousin,
A charity gift.
she only loved
An image of mine
I let it pass….
on February 12th her friend told me
That she was expecting some gift from me
I madly made a wretched decision
to buy the reddesd cherries for her
To show my passion and profess my love
I started saving some notes,
stole some more,
counted all my previous dough
To give her on February 14th,
The reddest cherries of them all
One night before that fateful day,
my mother went all funny, I say
and asked for my precious money
I asked her, why?, she did not tell,
I declined but ‘nothing’ she uttered
Next day I saw a heinous sight,
My mother’s body in sunlight.
Drenched in a pool of red
half dropping from her bed.
the color of her vomits
was the Pure and Red
I threw my money but
Kept my promise
of giving my love
The reddest cherries.
She accepted them with my apology,
They were pressed on my way to her
In red she was dressed
The juice dripped from her lips
which were tightly pressed.
I saw her as my eyes flood
drinking up my mother’s blood.