It stands like a grand mosque, silent and only coming up with a sound five times a day, calling for prayers from amongst the faithful. Not. Colored red, it never speaks like those around it, on the loudspeakers, its sound too dangerous, a kind of invitation to commotion.
There aren’t any wailing relatives around, except for people signing up for the bodies, the dead cold meat brought to the morgue, from a place almost a mosque, almost. The age-old ceilings of Emergency at Mayo Hospital help absorbing the sounds, emanating from the dead bodies. No, the stench. The stench of meat, first alive and now dead, long left to rot.
I touch one, the blood splashed across his face, the socks still on, a moustache, a man who left his wife and kids promising to come home, to feel something surreal, to speak to me of injustice, dark and cold.
And no, there is nothing that speaks. It is blood, dried. It doesn’t speak of anything. It doesn’t speak of an undying reference to the 11th of August speech, it doesn’t speak of some Justice Munir report. It doesn’t speak of brutal humiliation, injustice, embarrassment or accusations.
Super heroes in Lahore are fast bowlers, honed at the University ground, MAO college ground and the Minto park. And Fareed was one of those. Bowling at a lighting speed, he never gave up, relentless in pursuit of better, and more.
His Amma and Abba and two sisters are exceptionally nice. Maira, the younger will always be poked by Munna for a Chai ka cup, a pursuit as relentless as Fareed’s effort to bowl fast. You can’t really distinguish them from others. Except for when a nine-year old tells you with a contorted face, they are Marzais.
On that another 28th of May, just before he was supposed to leave to either of the two places for N…, no must not call it that, blasphemy, he changed his mind. His Mamoo and cousin left. The son witnessed his father being shot. While Maa Ji listened on the phone.
Do Maa Ji’s have a religion too?
Last month, I talked to Fareed after a long time since shifting to Karachi. He has now moved to Germany on asylum. And then I reflected, and asked myself, what was better for my ego, he dying there, or he leaving for Germany?
If he had died, I would have long carried the badge on my chest, trumpeting his cause, and since he has not, and he has shifted, I now feel humiliated, a stain on my ego. My country, my friend, my people, how come you not stop him to die here so that you can take another coffin to the grave while angry and lost, another editorial in the Dawn that pleads to end discrimination, a commotion on Twitter, or call for his blood, that infidel conspiratorial blood, or may be as an alternative, ignore his existence?
I sit against the computer, staring at the emails. A senior who lost his father, and witnessed him entering that compound, and before he himself could enter, the doors were closed. Firing. Shots.
What he reads in the night are emails asking if his father deserves a funeral prayer, and someone has the courage to ask that in front of his house, his dead body yet not home. And then at night, an email arrives, from Columbia, yes that shiny place, the Ivy league, are Ahmadis Muslims?
I wish I could read that while putting my hand on that body. Could the blood flow, again? Out of anger, perhaps? A commodity not even available to the tons of those who lost a friend or a family member. And he could use his body, finally, dead and cold without the fear of being shot and without the dread to suffer from pain, again, and ask some and challenge others, my amma waits, my manno waits, why, all still in the name of same God?
Salman Javaid is interested in history and fiction and tweets at @JavaidSalman