Windows shut, door ajar but curtains were restricting any light from entering the room. John woke up; checked the time, and dwelt again in dreams. It was a usual hot summer noon, but who cared.
John was not yet sure about things to do next, when he sensed a dust storm approaching. Curtains on the door drifted up high, allowing an outside glimpse. Some random straying clouds draped the sun, and the blustering winds arrived as a treat upon that. Living alone and staying idle all day long was not new for him. It was just the usual sad John. He admired that view for a moment, stepped outside and his day finally began. A lackluster wooden lawn chair sought his attention as he was leaving his house. It appeared exactly where it was supposed to be, exceptionally elegant. He envisaged himself enjoying the rain if there would be any, sitting over that chair – listening to some good music while eating freshly prepared samosas and thinking nothing – Dreams.
A storm was brewing few kilometers far he guessed, and in those before storm moments, he walked down those lanes, well cloaked in an undying melancholy, which this world calls a persistent fiasco. Ha-ha.
An incomplete graffiti on that huge wall spoke of his artist’s misery. There were few more drawings on that wall, mainly made by local kids with big dreams, but that graffiti stood a far from others. He wondered what would have been the reason for the artist to leave it unfinished. On the other hand, maybe he left it incomplete deliberately, as that art was much meaningful as being incomplete. Before turning in other lane, he stared that graffiti for a while like always.
Rhythm; he could sense it all. His every single pace was heavy like the ground, which has seen enough of scourge. That Graffiti represented a headless man with a sword in one hand. What does that even mean? Aye Artists, you never cease to bewilder.
“You started the day early today, it is afternoon only. You generally come out of your house with sunset.” June who runs a Laundromat spoke from her shop. “Ha-ha, I was hungry June.” He replied and kept walking. “Be careful, there have been riots in the old city again and even this remote part will not remain untouched for longer.”
Her name was not June actually. She was a Muslim daughter of a martyr. Her father died on a war within a month of her birth. Her mother had opened that Laundromat when all day long there was not anything left to do. It has been years now and she is happy with what she does. She lives in the lane next of John, and he generally visited her to wash his clothes. While his stay at her shop, they used to talk about stories, characters, people and many other facets of inglorious life. She never told him her real name, instead of that, she asked John to call her by any name he wished, and he went for June.
Yes, he used to call her June and she was a thing of happiness for him. He smiled and rushed towards samosas’ shop as the sky darkened and the weather worsened with every passing moment. He was not surprise to see those people mustered all around the shop and arguing senselessly about riots and political issues. “There have been a march with the head of a butchered cow by few communities in old city, and it did result in severe protest. Look, today here election is going on. What do you think Mr. Gulshan?” A man who was in mid forties addressed someone with aggression. Meanwhile John entered the shop and asked the kid working there to make his parcel as usual.
“These people haven’t paid yet and they are quite furious you know.” That child whispered to him while packing samosas.
“Umm-hmm… I can see it…”
Before he could turn to say more, someone smashed a glass on floor and the glass turned into smithereens. That kid ran and asked the man who broke the glass to pay for it, as his master will scold him for the breakage. In response, he got a thunderous slap over his face. John quickly pulled the boy behind him and asked that man to forgive his ignorance.
All the people over there threw an alienated look over John, and for an instant, he did not understand the reason behind that. Soon he realized that their rage shifted on him.
A person from crowd shouted, “It’s because of people like you, these situations arise. People like you who don’t keep any opinion, do nothing about any social problems and keep living in peace.”
“Look at his hairs. Who keeps such long and messy hairs? He could be one of the terrorists who bamboozle and live with us.” That Gulshan fellow added this time.
“I had doubts on him since the day he came to live here. He visits that Muslim widow’s daughter regularly; there must be something wrong going with both of them.” The neighbor of June was the next person to throw his opportunistic accusation over John.
June knew how intrepid John was and it was the only reason she behaved normally while warning him about the unenviable situation. Yes, he did not respond to any of those accusations and decided to leave that shop immediately.
“Hey! Where are you going? Look he always runs from facing us.” Someone shouted again but John did not bother to look back. He was not much further from them when an old man appeared from nowhere in that intense scene. “Run people run, there have been a huge public protest at the nearby election booth and army have taken the command. It is going to be a curfew over here soon. Run.”
John relieved as their attention was not on him anymore and now they had what they wished – a misery.
A wise man once said very profoundly that, “how one behaves in misery on the stains of almighty time is what makes him either a miserable or a myth.” Likewise was about to happen over there.
A pandemonium danced on the melodiously wicked tune of that wretchedness; when a crowd appeared running towards the lane – yelling their lungs out. John kept moving for his place and as soon he entered in June’s lane, he saw her on the window, sunken deep in worry. The weather had reached its extreme; thunders bellowed and the dust storm resulted in poor visibility. Perhaps she was trying to say something, but her voices never reached John. The forlorn situation of misery touched him when he placed my feet at that spot, the turn. That wall of drawings was on left, June’s lane was on back and his house was in the lane right to him. Drizzling started and dusts began to settle down a little and he could see those rebellious citizens rushing in his lane. Before he could even make a sense of hap hazardous scenario, he heard a honk. He turned back only to hear a scream, “Shoot him…”
Two soldiers were on a bike chasing down those rebellions and they conceived John as one of them. The soldier who was not driving pulled his gun over him and clenched his fingers around the trigger. John lifted his hands up to show the parcel he was carrying – in an attempt to make them realize that he was returning from market. It worked and they went away. Few moments later, they were gone and he was still lost in their last possible glimpse holding his hands up. Suddenly that crowd hiding in the lane came out thrusting towards John. They ignored his presence, someone hit him from back and he fell on the ground, no one resisted from running over him. He was brutally rewarded for some sin he did not do. He sat on that corner laying his back over a lamppost. Heavily bruised was he, bloodied. Then he realized an anomaly. In that situation of misery, they chose to become miserable and their deeds made him a myth.
Drizzling turned in heavy downpours, and he wondered over the moment that just passed. In that chaos he found a pattern, his parcel was scattered on the road – well soaked in rainwater, June was still on window looking empathetically, and the drawing of a headless man was standing tall on that wall. Yes, he deciphered the unfinished art, and he realized that it was actually complete in all sense. There is an old saying, “In the time of peace war-men attack themselves.” Likewise is the case with this world of Homo sapiens, what we call humankind. There never will be a solution and he re-understood it the hard way. However, one thing was ominous by then; the artist who drew that art was June herself. John stood up wounded and sallied slowly for his house.
Finally, he sat on the awaiting lawn chair, listening to his trembling breaths, thinking nothing, purposelessness...