Momo Quazi, Toronto
Some prisoners aren’t bound by chains or locked in jails. My prison was built with my own ambition and rage. And I have just handed my instinct the keys. But now the past is proving to be a cruel jailor.
Afsan was kind of a lanky little dude, with arms like sticks. He was unnecessarily tall for his age and had feet like penguins. Kids in suburb hardly ever wore shoes..Bare feet was the norm for the little boys with crow’s nest hair and dirty hands. We were a group of six boys.We would play along the banks of river Fanai and go on adventures. We would read forbidden books and dream about girls. We had troubles in our personal lives. We shared with each other but Afsan never really did…Although his problems were visible. We knew and kind of assumed them but could never be brave enough to ask or poke the dragon. We saw a little extremity when he broke his leg and his little sister said his father did it to him as he was trying to stop him from hurting his mom. It was sad and scary for little boys like us.
Afsan would come to our house from time to time with his all dirty cloths and hands and bare feet and my mom would make him take shower and get him all cleaned up. Sometimes I would get jelous..sometimes I would ask mom why she does this extra care for him and she replied…
”-I can see pain in his eyes. He is going through something but he never tells.”
I never believed her then but now I know how a mother’s instinct is often right. . My mom would notice the beaten marks on his body.
Months went by and we grew up another year with the little tea trees in sylhet. Summer has passed by with all its sweats and winter stepped in with its grey blanket. Meanwhile we could guess life was difficult at home for him. He would spend more time with my family and sometimes he would bring his little sister Mona.We all loved Mona. Sweet little girl full of curiosity. Loved ice cream too much.I didn’t have a sister so my mom loved to dress her. We spend good times together. She loved them like her own children.
But as spring started appearing and our little grey town started getting its colours back Mona and Afsan started getting quiter by the day. Mona would come everyday and would cry her eyes out but upon asking none of them would say a thing. Just one day she said to my mom”daddy hurts me”. When you are young many thing is out of your understanding. But even a young me felt a sharp pain in my heart.
The same night Afsan appeared at my window and asked me to go with him. I was hesitant of the thought of my mom would be mad at me but as I saw the look at his face I couldn’t stop myself. Afsan was literally shaking…As we were running through the quiet dark streets he said his dad hurt Mona so bad and he has to take her to the hospital. As I stepped into their house his mom was holding Mona in between her arms and she had an empty gaze. And as soon as I looked at Mona I knew it was her lifeless body. Mona was lifeless. Lifeless. Her untied hair was scattered in multiple places, stained with dried blood; crimson. Her hazel brown eyes were wide open, but her irises held a sudden sadness. Her clothes, a lime green tunic and yellow pants were bloody. Her body was slumped over, half-sitting, half-laying on the cold mosaic floor. And the smell. The smell was the most disturbing thing I had ever sniffed. My heart pounded as one question continued to race through my mind: How could a father be this cruel to his own child?
We stood still for a moment out of shock. And then I noticed his father sitting down on a stool looking at us — the very first words came out of his mouth was–
”Afsan (swearing that can not be printed) why would you bring him in here? How dare you bring a witness in my house?”
Afsan couldn’t control himself anymore I guess he picked up the heavy candle holder and ran towards him and before his dad could stop him he managed to hit him on his head and he dropped on the ground. As his dad tried to hit him back viciously, I stepped in and grabbed the knife from the tabletop and just stubbed him on the side of his stomach. I didn’t stop..i was screaming out of my rage and kept twisting the knife inside of his body. And then Afsan brought the bloody knife out and kept stubbing him until his lifeless body dropped on the ground.
We got tired and we were panting but the longest night of my life had just began. We were so shocked we started crying and Afsan’a mom took over the situation. She told us to grab the shovels from the garage and to go and dig a hole in the woods nearby. And we obeyed her directly without thinking anything else. We suddenly realized that the most physically demanding job in the world is to dig a grave. Without proper tools and adult fit body it is a near impossible job.but the fear of being in prison for the rest of our life, we started digging.it rained a couple days ago and the soil was somewhat soft in the woods but still it made us breathe our hearts away.we couldn’t even look at each other as we were just busy digging a giant hole on the ground for the father of my best friend. Afsan was crying.He was shaking so much and couldn’t even take the shovel on his hands. His mom wrapped her daughter and her husband’s body with plastic sheets and we all carried the bodies to the hole .Once the hole was big enough to hold the bodies we just rolled his and dumped it into the hole. I wouldn’t call it a grave now as it was merely a hole…nothing else…which couldn’t even hold the bodies properly. now that I think about the incident…I look back and see a couple of 12 years olds crying for help in a horrible hell on earth. I still have nightmares…I still can’t go to funerals or a graveyard. I still feel like an empty person. first we dropped his father and on top of him we lay Mona down. We didn’t have enough time to dig two different holes. We put the soil back and covered them. We went back to Afsan’s place and cleaned all the blood and bloody evidence.
The next day Afsan and his mom left the town. We also left that little town after six months. My mom and other friends always asked me about them but my answer was always that I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to them. People are selfish. They believe in”out of sight, out of mind.” Eventually, everyone forgot about them. But in my mind, I always pictured that night like a movie. Every time I closed my eyes… Every time I saw a little girl…every time I went to suburbs and every time I saw little children…
This is my prison…the punishment for taking part in killing my best friend’s father. This is my punishment for not trying to save little Mona. She comes to my dreams every night and asks me with her eyes full of tears –
”Anto…you couldn’t even dig a separate little grave for me? I was very tiny you know.You left me alone with that rapist….. I curse you Afsan, your daughter would have the same fate as I did.” My sleep breaks…i drink water and try to go back to sleep and her father comes to my dream .He doesn’t say anything. He just looks at me and smiles…the most horrific smile in the world.