The Spirits of the Deceased – A Short Story by Imaan Siddiq

(This story is dedicated to the martyrs and the prepossessing people and the land of Kashmir that remains under constant suppression and oppression and as a result millions have died in cold blood.)

Spirits of the Deceased

Amir could feel his heart pulsating endlessly in his chest as his eyes refused to see that which he had already seen and his ears knew exactly how loud the next bomb blast would be and how everything around him would become a “Land of White Mystery.” As he opened his eyes from his slumber, perspiring a river down his back and breathless as if he had run a marathon, he knew exactly what he had dreamt about.  After all, the fires in Kashmir had not died down.

He quietly walked down to his cabinet as the moonlight was intercepted by his quivering steps, he laid his hands on a wooden box and his thumb automatically found the keyhole as it had been accustomed to many times before. However, what is a locked box without a key, just like a body without a spirit, it was empty or was it? It had not been long since Amir’s laughter had transformed into wailing cries of agony as he reminisced about the past.

What a fine morning it was that day in Srinagar, the last place he was posted to as a soldier in the Pakistan Military serving his cause with ambition and patriotism as he jogged in the peripheral of the mountains with his brothers. It is always surprising to know, how ironical the past and the future can be once played in replay and looked at in retrospect. Nonetheless, it fell on them like it fell on everybody else, clusters of sky rockets, bomb blasts and a river of bullets which left behind but a trail of debris and human bodies. This was when their post was attacked and ransacked on that fateful day of no date, Amir lost everything, his brothers, his friends and even the memoirs of those that remembered him in their prayers and who would yell his name in agony as the news would blare on the television in the worn-down lounge.

Amir did not remember a lot but what he did remember was that he had to find a key, a key for the box which securely stored the only sign of his brothers, a box full of their dog tags as if they were the spirits of the deceased and were to be freed by Amir so that they could elevate to the Land of Arcady and finally rest in peace. It became his ideal as he traveled over yonder distances and reached his home, a place of warmth but now a foreign land in his memory. It was heart-piercing as his mother and sister let loose rivers of pearls and jewels only to realize that Amir could not apprehend their shine anymore. It was all a blur to him.

He had spent the forthcoming week in looking frantically for the key when the news broke out, a news expected but unwanted and unfortunate. The Indian troops were advancing and according to Amir, in the gray of his mind, he was being pushed in the wall with nowhere to run as he yelled at nights, “They are coming! They are coming, in fact they are nearer than ever. They will kill all of us! I have to take up arms, I have to fight but I do not want to kill.”

It was at this moment that he realized the intensity of the circumstance, he had to take action. He had to protect the only bed that would keep him warm and the only eyes who would weep for him. Thus he knew that his dear grandfather used to keep a rifle for hunting while he was alive and left it behind after he traversed to another dimension. It was time that Amir took it out of its leather case, cleaned it and filled it with life, but was it just to take another life?

Nonetheless, he made his way to the attic but it was locked. He did not have the key and it made his heart pang with guilt and helplessness. It was in that river of tears that he found a stepping stone. His grandfather used to say, “My dear boy, if life ever goes South, which it will, then just remember that often at times it is not the material which is the key. It is often just a key waiting to be twisted in your heart. Once you find it, all you have to do is to turn it in the right direction and then let it go.” This is exactly what Amir did as he closed his eyes, however he had forgotten as he had turned deaf to the screams and the gun-fire and suddenly the roof collapsed and a full-stop was placed in the end after a prepossessing memory and an ocean of words unsaid.

 

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