“Poor guy”, he said. “I wonder what possessed him to do that?
How did he die?” asked the bystander. The Counsel smiled,
for nothing gave him more joy than to tell a tale.
Taking him aside, the Counsel draped a friendly arm and began-
“He that lays there broken and without spirit, was
once a lover, a confidante, a part of the
heart for she, that lived over the desert and
beyond the border. Young love theirs was, and full of
whispers, giggles, and promises reaching the moon.
He had an uncle in India, who left him some land,
and he departed with a heavy heart promising to write, and return in haste.
He reached India, with feverish impatience to get back, giddy
with the knowledge that he now was rich enough to marry, and
quickly set out to acquire the land. Alas! He was trapped by a knave,
A relative who had long ago forced him to flee to Pakistan;
ensnared by the law, he had nowhere to flee, and was jailed
for who was he, a land-grabbing Pakistani!
His bleats of innocence disregarded, he was sent to jail, and
served time of seven years, his will all but broken except for the
memory of a tinkling laugh, a giggle that bid him to hold on tight.
At last, he was set free, many moons after, by a kindly warden, who took
his only possession, a painting, that he had done in prison, with a
memory lurking in his mind frozen in beauty, glittering with color.
He hopped on to the first train, and paused for neither bath or a change,
for his desire burned so bright, he was afraid it would kill him if denied.
But five years had passed, and he felt a slight unease as he drove
up to her home. He asked around for the girl, described her ethereal beauty,
Evoked strange reactions, until a gardener told him,
“She has been married to an Indian trader for two years, and what a
Love theirs is, so sweet and genuine, the kind absent today.”
The words hit him like a thunderbolt, shell-shocked and dismayed,
He was determined to see her for one last time, and
Despite knowing what lay in store here, he set out, determined
to get back his love. He reached her house, and knocked the door.
She didn’t recognize him, and started with disbelief,
Come back and frolic, said he, you have no idea how much
I long for you. Leave this person and come to Pakistan.
I cannot accept the words of a convict, said she, and besides,
I chose to marry him, for my love to him is a thousand
times brighter than my love for you. She then proceeded to shoo
him out and turned away in disgust. The man, furious,
bellowed in a rage long suppressed, and reached out to pull her back
and make her see sense. He caught her neck, and when she started
to struggle, held on tight, and forgot who he was, or what he was.
When the body became limp, he fell, body disgusted, soul serrated.
Reality came in a flash, and he rose to escape, jumping the fence
just as the husband’s car pulled up in the driveway.
He ran and ran, and finally when he stopped he realized what he had
done. Cold fear crept over him, and partly numbed his senses. He took
to flee back to his land, where he would be safe, and proceeded to board
a train. He moved as though in a haze, and accidentally tripped someone
over. The actor turned, asked him to apologize. Our friend didn’t. He was sick of
life, tired of being hounded, and ashamed of his deeds. He rebelled, and was
taken aside by burly men, who threatened him with the ultimate price to pay.
A punch paralyzed his mouth, and he neither wept nor fought for his release,
until he lay there presently, cold as a stone.”
“But why did you tell me all this?”, cried the bystander, “I have important work
that I put off for this, and you told me an impossible yarn, while love
and choice were neither the question nor the answer to his death. Why
get me cynical, upset, melancholic, when hundreds die a violent death a day.”
“But surely my good sir”, cried the counsel, “shouldn’t all death evoke
sympathy? Is it not vital that we care for that, who right in front of our eyes,
has lived, died and left behind a life of hope, led in brutish violence,
extinguished by a desire to break free? Who would remember a man whose life
cannot be accounted for more than a sentence, whose sins and crimes are
not explained? All of life, some to remember, none to understand.”