Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, October 04, 2012

As the raven flies

Story: Bareesh
Art: Fahim Anzoom


The city below is overflowing. The gutters, filled with sins and lies, file out onto the surface. The inhabitants now drown in what they've sown. The children cry in the background as the sinners of all walks of life raise their arms to the sky, as tears flow down their hollow cheeks - they look up for someone to save them. But the storm is gathering. The lightning is crackling, somewhere off in the distance. The thunder is rumbling, and it's slowly getting louder. It's said that rain washes all dirt away, but no one really believes that. The filth of their minds is not affected by simple water.

Learned men are no different from motley fools, when they're dead. And they're no different when the fear of the reaper first pierces them. Their eyes will get wide, their lips will tremble and they will try to deny it. But inside, they shall know it is inevitable. Yet they shall scream and shout and writhe around as the flames of life are put out. And for all that, nothing will change. In the last moment, when the clammy hands of death move to close their eyes forever, all they shall feel is regret. That, and numbness.

Through the window, I see an old man struggle to open the container for his pills. His heart is racing and it will kill him. The child lock refuses to budge. It's a cruel, sadistic comedy. He lives alone. No one cares for him anymore. His children all live far away, they send him pictures of his grandchildren from time to time, and they give him a call during the holidays. The pictures decorate his mantle; the calls are laden with excuses and promises that will never be kept. In the floor above him, seductive music plays in a dark room. The curtains are shut. As one dies, another is being created. Neither are particularly wanted in this world. God has a sense of humour.

The devil's on the loose, feasting on the decadence of a crumbling society. Men lie in rubbish heaps looking at the sky, because the voices in their head told them to. They don't see the flashing lights they thought they would. Or maybe they do, and I don't? I sometimes wonder if they're happy.

Maybe they're happier than the men that drop loose change at their feet, just to clear their conscience of guilt. Guilt that has accumulated for years and years; guilt borne from secrets as black as the crevasses where their souls once were. It would make sense. But little enough does in this world.

My brethren take flight now. The sky was darkening before, and any symbolic hope they could have garnered from whatever bit of sun that poked through the clouds will be blocked out. The cacophony of crows sound out across this wasteland they call civilisation. Dark wings flutter towards the desolate sky.


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