Wounds by Shahrukh Jamal

He fiddled with the knife stained with the dense drops of blood and looked at it distressingly as the red drops trickled down from the knife on the black tiles of the kitchen of his home, the one with dead walls and dim lights.

It was 1:30 am, the time when usually on other nights he’d dream about the peaceful room of his parents, untouched by the misery that would come with fights, arguments, pulling each other’s legs and dragging each other’s ancestors into it. The sound of the water draining out from the thin blue pipe, fitted to the RO, and falling on the surface of the sink was the only thing he could hear, apart from the tick-tock of the old clock that hung on the wall of his room, right above the poster of Michael Jordan. He could see him from the kitchen which was attached to his room, lifting himself up to put the ball into the basket, and for a moment he dreamt about a life just like that famous basketball star, too busy to get affected by the chaos his parents, both aged fifty-five, brought.

Sweat raced down his temples, and made his t-shirt stick to his skin, and he began feeling queasy, uneasy, and restless. How quiet it is at this point of time, he wondered. Right beside the kitchen, after walking a few steps through the gallery, maybe eight steps, was the room from where abuses and screams and sounds of the breaking of lamps and showpieces and thuds at the door when things were hurled, had become a trademark. That was the room of their parents. He would hear them every night, especially when he would try and deafen the noise by engrossing in a novel (right now he was reading Stephen King), and assume that they perhaps never loved each other. All those pictures that he had seen of them, holding each other’s hands and playing with him, all those stories he had listened to, right from when he was six-years old to today when he was twenty-two, seemed nothing more than a sham. A big sham.

They would humiliate and disrespect each other to the core. At first, he thought his father was the tormenter, later he realized his mother was no less. Both had differing perspectives about each other; both accused each other of cheating, and both had supplied proofs to claim their point, through which, he had come to a disheartening, unspoken conclusion: both were guilty.

They wouldn’t accept it, but he knew. Who accepts their faults after all? Especially when it can turn one’s life upside down, and ruin their image to the extent of wanting to die every day, only to want to be set free.

He looked at his belly, at his fat-less belly, and sighed in pain. As he pressed his hand where there was a deep cut and the flesh was visible, and the blood continuously streamed from that part of his body, he realized this was it. Taking the support of the wall, he stood up, after two attempts, and his gaze once again went to his bleeding belly.

He had stabbed himself six times there. Damn, that’s what frustration did to him.

Leaning against the wall, he made his way to the unhappiest room of the house. For once, he turned and looked at his trophies. Not only he was the captain of his basketball team in college, he had a flair for writing too. He had won several essay competitions, poetry competitions (though he believed he sucked at it) and the like. Still his parents criticized him for all his activities.

‘First there was you, now this useless son of yours’, both would say to each other.

He remembered three years ago, when he had won the Super Basketball Tournament in his college, and was awarded a nice, shimmery, well-carved trophy, along with an NBA t-shirt, he felt that was the proudest moment of his life. As soon as he had reached home that day, with the only thought of sharing the joyous moment with his parents, they divided the task of eliminating his happiness: dad broke the trophy into pieces and his mom tore the t-shirt.

 Right beside the kitchen, after walking a few steps through the gallery, maybe eight steps, was the room from where abuses and screams and sounds of the breaking of lamps and showpieces and thuds at the door when things were hurled, had become a trademark. 

“There’s so much fight in this home and you want to celebrate?’ came the reason for their actions.

He had now reached the white door of their room, the door had a sticker of Santa Claus sitting on his sledge and waving his hand. That sticker belonged to the previous year and was now torn from its borders and had turned a bit dull and pale. He pushed the door to open it staining the Santa with his bloodied palm-print, and as soon as it opened, he leaned again against the wall.

He looked deep into the darkness. Only a tiny light that emanated from the new lamps on the bedsides helped him see his parents lying under a large, velvet blanket, asleep, unaware of their child and perhaps planning the next day’s topic to fight on in their dreams. A pillow lied between them, acting as a divider. At least they still shared the same room.

He knocked at the opened door repeatedly, fiercely, causing some movement on the bed. The parents were awake now. The mother switched the light on, only to shriek in horror at the sight of her son. The father had his eyes opened wide as he sat up on the bed.

‘Oh dear! Oh dear! What have you done to yourself?’ The mother screamed from the bed and removed the blanket and stepped out of the bed to reach him. The father was still dumbfounded.

‘Fed up…I’m fed up of you both.’

‘What?’ Mother’s eyes began to show anger.

‘I’ve got astonishing parents!’ He dropped the knife on the floor and placed the other hand on the belly too, making the blood pour out of his open wound to his partially red t-shirt. His blue jeans had turned purple too. He gasped, he sighed, and looked at the faces of his parents.

‘No appreciation, no happiness, nothing!’ He said. ‘All you both dwell on is sadness, negativ…’

before he could finish, he collapsed.

This time, the father stepped out of the bed and reached him, and placed his sweaty, grief-stricken face on his lap. The hair that had turned wet because of profusely sweating, made a grey mark on the old man’s white cloth on the portion that covered the lap.

He looked at both of them, wondering what if his parents were same as his friends. Since his childhood, he had never actually been able to develop that bond, especially with his mother. He feared both of them, always. There might have been a slight liking for them, but he knew he didn’t love them. They were fierce, in his opinion. So, unlike his friends, some of which called their moms their best friend, he couldn’t even imagine sharing anything from his personal life with them. He always envied his friends.

‘Don’t close your eyes.’ His father slapped him to keep him awake.

But he knew that his father’s slaps would do nothing. He would close his eyes. Not to fall unconscious, but to die, and then…relief!

Just like someone says something absolutely random, absolutely off-topic to change the mood, he looked away from their faces and his eyes caught attention of their clock bigger than the one in his room, hanging on the wall. He heard its tick-tock too. And time was the last thing he saw in his life.

It said 1:40 am.

The father shifted his son’s face from the lap and placed it on the floor and slapped him twice, thrice, and even more, and harder than the previous, but in vain. Their son, their only child, was gone.

He looked at his wife with grief-reddened eyes. She was too astonished to say anything, and kept staring at her still son, whose dead eyes glared lifelessly at the mighty clock.

‘N…no. Why?’ He broke into tears, and his eyes showed disbelief. His wife still stared at the still body of their son.

‘Because of you.’ She uttered, her eyes refusing to leave her motionless son.

 ‘Me?’ The father’s crying building up to rage.

‘Yes! You, asshole! You never understood me and this went on for years and years. And why would you? You were busy sleeping with whores!’

‘Really? And what should I call you? A pain-in-the-ass retard, seeking sympathy from everyone, from her neighbour’s husband?’

‘Don’t you try to blame me! Don’t!’

‘That’s the truth you ugly bitch!’

As they resumed to what they did best, their son’s lifeless eyes stayed locked at the clock on the wall. An ant crawled on his face, possibly looking for a hole in a carcass it would relish with its mates.

His blood lay in a half-red pool across the floor. The new lamp fell beside his body and broke.

The light went dimmer in the room.

About the Author

Sharukh Jamal

Shahrukh Jamal is a student of Political Science (Hons.) at Jamia Millia Islamia. He has a great passion for writing and is also working on a novel.

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