Arshid Malik
Draped in white, your head nods in agreement when the village council meets at around exact dusk, with its members kept together like a bundle of sticks fearing the slightest spark. It is dark and the darkest soon enough. My dear friend it is all about options not opinions. You are dead and all we do is talk about you, day in and day out. We try, at the village council, to pay certain and specific homage to you; we try to honor you in our own small ways but at around exact dusk it does not amount to much. You are gone and the truth is that we all miss you, my dear brother.
They spun stories about your death in the court yard and we could hear the murmurs that pierced the air. It is hard to have lost you and then having lost all the corroborations of faith in all that is human. It is hard my dear friend. When they published the black booklet, gravely conjecturing the innocence of your face with the evilest of elements, I attempted, with a bottle of whitening fluid in my hand, to wipe out all traces of your beautiful name from it but failed. Now I cry, with all of those who still hear you call out their name, and walk the dark alleys of our village in pure abandon till I lose my way. I would not like to stay but the injustice done to your name keeps me rooted to this vacuum.
The village council shall convene again, this Sunday, and we shall attempt to honor the absence of you till we fade. We will sing hymns and colour our clothes red, and we will wait for the next one to die. The elongated shadow of death moves our souls, and our bodies too and we shall wait till the next one dies. And do I need to tell you that you are not a single soul but a colossus of our imminent past, now that you are dead. And their victims join you in your eternal gloom, everyday, as we pass the dark alleys of the village.  
Dumbfounded, a child once asked me about you. What could I have said except that you were dead? But he did not understand. “He was so young, my uncle. How can he be dead”, he shot at me and I soullessly wandered off to the plains. Old people of the village, those who do not convene when the village council meets, call me by your name and enquire about your father’s health. Bespectacled by shame, I murmur something about a rheumatoid heart and subsequent strokes and steal my way ahead.
And as I turn my sorry face into bed every night, I hear you say, “After many years, when I am a little mound of silent dust, play with me, with the clay of my heart and of my bones. If a bricklayer picks me up, he will put me in a brick; I’d stay forever fixed in a wall, and I despise quiet corners. If they make me a brick in a prison, I will blush with shame to hear a man sobbing. If I am a brick in a school, I will suffer too, because I won’t be able to sing with you in the dawns.” (Gabriela Mistral)
They shot you at point blank range and then shot you again.


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