Unexpected by Saiyed Farooq Jamal

‘INNA LILAHI WA INNA ILAIHI RAJI’UN

FARAZ MALIK

If my memory is still loyal to me, this is exactly what was written on my son Faraz’s grave, and the words were somewhat shining by the glittering sunrays coming directly at my head. I still remember that day, when I was weeping, with my hands smothering my face, and my wife, Mumtaz, was sitting silently, staring at the grave with no expression on her face. Faraz’s departure seemed the end of the world for me.

I am Anwar Malik, have crossed my fifty, and now only the sole purpose of my life is perhaps to ponder where did it go wrong? Why Faraz is not with us?

Today, exactly a month after Faraz’s death, I’m thinking about him.

Faraz Malik, age 17, brown eyes, wavy hair, sharp nose, was slim and six feet tall. He was in love with someone. Yes, this is the reason why he was KILLED, because he loved someone. How could he do that? Didn’t he know it’s a crime? But he was innocent, though at that time he was still a teenager, but he had to pay for his sin. But whom did he love? Why did he commit this crime? It all happened last month.

 * * *

‘Dad? Where are you? Dad’, Faraz shouts.

‘I’m coming’, I run as fast as I can. ‘What’s the matter?’

‘You haven’t signed my report card yet’, Faraz is frustrated.

‘Calm down, calm down’, I borrow pen from Faraz and place my signature at the bottom of the report card.

‘Thank you’, Faraz almost jumps and runs away.

‘WAIT’, I shout.

‘Yes?’

‘Be ready tomorrow, Anjum khala will come here with her family.’

‘Anjum khala?’ Faraz smiles, with his eyes sparkling like pearls.

‘Yes’, I smile back.

Faraz was close to Anjum. He loved her very much. Anjum did a lot for our family. It was because of her that Faraz got admission in one of the finest schools of this city. I think, it was after this only that Faraz began liking her. Okay, sorry for disgression. Let’s move back to the story.

Faraz is sitting on the floor in the night. Mumtaz is sitting beside him, stitching the torn bedsheet, and I am sleeping on the bed.

‘Ammi! Anjum khala will come tomorrow with her family. Who all will come along with her?’ Faraz is curious.

‘Wait’, Mumtaz stops stitching and keeps the bedsheet, thread and needle aside. She then comes closer to Faraz and resumes, ‘Only her son, Saqib.’

‘Saqib? Who’s he? And what about the rest of the family?’

‘They don’t want to come.’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t know’, Mumtaz takes a pause, then resumes, ‘Didn’t you meet Saqib last month?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’ Mumtaz almost glares. ‘Why you avoid meeting your cousins?’

‘It’s not like that’, Faraz clears his throat. ‘I was ill.’

‘Okay sorry’, Mumtaz chuckles. ‘I forgot.’

‘Will meet him tomorrow’, Faraz says it as if he’s making some promise.

‘Insha Allah.’

 

***

The next day, in the afternoon, the walls are shining and the aroma of delicious eatables is coming from the kitchen. Mumtaz is readying the dishes to be served, while Faraz and I are readying ourselves. I choose my favourite kurta while Faraz chooses his, pairing it with blue jeans. I suggest him to wear pyjama, but he would never listen to me.

 

 Anjum did a lot for our family. It was because of her that Faraz got admission in one of the finest schools of this city.

Trrriiinggggg!!! The door bell rings. Faraz immediately rises from the chair and rushes to the door.

‘Assalam o Alaikum khala!’ he smiles and hugs Anjum.

‘Walaikum Assalam’, Anjum replies, while her chin hangs from Faraz’s shoulder.

Saqib is standing still, smiling and watching both of them hugging each other. Anjum is the first one to separate. ‘He’s Saqib’, she says to Faraz.

‘Assalam o Alaikum’

‘Walaikum Assalam’, Saqib replies and both of them shake hands.

After a while, everyone is there sitting in the drawing hall. Talks begin, and parallel to it begin the serving of delightful dishes kept on the table. Saqib is sitting silent, and only speaks when he is asked why he’s quite. Faraz, though he’s silent too, but is staring Saqib. His eyes are different, they’re black; his face is glowing; and his hair is straight. He is…

‘Faraz’, I intrude in his another world. ‘Talk to Saqib, he’s getting bored’, I chuckle.

‘Sure. Why not? Come Saqib…’ Faraz stops, thinking for a while if Saqib is elder than him, but the arrow has already been released. Still there is no objection to it, so he resumes, ‘I will show you my room.’

Saqib smiles and gets up from the sofa. Together they both go upstairs, where Faraz opens the door of his room and asks Saqib to enter first.

‘So, what’s your age?’ Faraz whispers, as if it’s some secret.

‘Seventeen’, Saqib smiles genuinely for the first time.

‘Oh wow, same!’ Faraz chuckles. ‘Do you play games?’

‘Only some, not enough, I’m not much into it’, Saqib tells.

‘Why?’

‘I get bored easily’, he tries to smile, but this time he fails.

‘Ohh’, Faraz doesn’t know what to say to it. ‘So, were you getting bored downstairs?’ he changes the topic.

‘Oh yes! I hate visiting relatives’, Saqib sits on the bed and scans the novels kept on the bedside.

‘Same…’ Faraz stops suddenly, and after taking two seconds’ pause, he continues, ‘But I like you’, he smothers his face with his hands.

Saqib stares at Faraz. Then he starts laughing, ‘I like you too’, he picks up a novel and leafs through its pages.

Faraz removes hands from his face and joins Saqib. Later, he sees the novel in Saqib’s hand. ‘That’s my favourite, The Lowland’, he smiles.

‘Oh wow! That’s my favourite too…and this one too, The Namesake’, he grabs the book in his hand.

‘Same. Saqib, do you like Jhumpa Lahiri?’

‘Yes, and you too, right?’

‘Yes’, they both start chuckling louder this time.

Both stop and begin staring each other for some time. Later, Saqib turns his head towards the books and begins checking the other novels kept there. A minute later, he feels something running on his left thigh. He stops turning the pages and immediately turns back, dropping the novel on the floor. Faraz has come much closer to him, so close that he can feel his breath. There is lust in his eyes. Saqib wants to utter something but it seems as if words have decided to betray him at that moment, not wanting to interrupt in between. Soon, Saqib too begins running his hand on Faraz’s thighs, then on his shoulders, and leans over Faraz. Eventually, they kiss each other.

‘FARAZ!!!’ I open the door ten minutes later. Both are lying on bed, with Saqib on top of Faraz. As I rush towards Faraz to slap him, Saqib immediately separates himself from my son and stands up aside. I slap Faraz for the first time ever, but it’s harder. His cheeks are red and the sound of the slap is still echoing in his ears. Everyone is present in the room by now. Anjum is scolding Saqib loudly. And here, Mumtaz does the same, ‘What the hell do you think you were doing? Weren’t you feeling ashamed? How could you do this?’

To my surprise, Faraz protests, ‘Ammi, I love him…’ another slap, this time by Mumtaz. Immediately, a reply comes from Saqib, ‘I love him too.’ All heads turn towards him. ‘SHAMELESS!’ he too gets one slap. Moments later, Anjum drags Saqib and they begin to leave the house, ‘Now you won’t live here, I am sending you to Qatar. There your uncle will keep a watch over you.’ ‘No..please don’t…’ soon both of them disappear.

‘Why you did this..Faraz?’ I asked.

‘It just happened’, Faraz is crying.

‘Arguing with me?’ I slap him again. ‘You won’t meet him again, ever. He is going to Qatar now.’

‘No, please…’

‘SHUT UP!’

‘I LOV…’ Mumtaz slaps him again.

‘You won’t say that again’, I growl.

‘But why can’t I say it if I love him. I have done no wrong…’

I am now even more furious. I hold Faraz’s neck from behind and drag him downstairs.

‘What are you doing?’ Mumtaz yells, but I am not listening to her.

As I bring him to the table where the dishes are kept, I throw Faraz on the sofa and run towards the kitchen. As I come back, there is a knife in my hand. Mumtaz sees it and rushes towards me. ‘Are you mad? What are you…’ ‘STAY AWAY!’ I push her aside, so hard that she falls on the floor and hits her head with the table. I see her, but don’t even care to go after her. I look back at Faraz, and without even uttering a single word, I pierce the knife into his belly. Blood emerges from him and ruins his white kurta. Some of it are on my face too, but it doesn’t bother me, as I keep inserting the knife into my son’s stomach. ‘NOOOO!’ Mumtaz shouts from behind, but it’s too late now. I don’t listen to her again, and only after stabbing Faraz five times, I realise my mistake. I immediately step back; my mouth is opened; my eyes staring the blood on Faraz’s clothes; my hands are red with my own blood. I look at them, immediately throw the knife far away from me. What have I done? I am shocked. But my son won’t come back now. He’s gone. I kneel down and bury my head into my arms. I am crying.

Later that day, the police come and arrest me. Mumtaz had called the police and informed them of everything that took place inside the four walls of this house. The neighbours are standing outside, watching me as I’m being shifted into the police van, and are mumbling among themselves. Mumtaz is crying and she sits on the floor. The door of the van bangs, and behind it I’m sitting along with two police officers, hanging my head in shame and despair, as I am a culprit, I’ve killed my son.

I sit on the slab. I stare at the iron rods standing parallel to each other. There is a thin line of light coming from the ventilator. It’s day outside. But inside, there is sheer darkness. The walls are standing firm, asking me why did I commit such heinous crime? I have no answer to it.

‘Anwar, be prepared, we are going to court in a few minutes’ time’, a constable appears in front of me and orders as he opens the cell.

I slowly get up and move out of the cell.

As we are moving towards the van, he asks me the same question, ‘Why did you commit such crime, Anwar?

It seems as now I’ve got an answer, ‘This society made me a criminal.’

About the Author

Farooq Jamal

Saiyed Farooq Jamal is pursuing B.A. Honours in English from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He writes short stories, mainly drama, and is also working on a novel.


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