The Guillotine of Absolution – A Short Story

The Guillotine of Absolution

Wasn’t it impeccably soothing as the consciousness would divulge in the blinding pits of twilight, suspended along the finite silver thread as it glimmered upon the melanin of my skin. How the once verdant bond was now left vacant with a stammering, shivering soul in pursuit of a sanity lost in the wailing echoes that would haunt my ears every night. I would often wonder, whether the utopian star-lit sky that shone through the peephole could bear the flood of darkness that flowed incessantly through the emaciated veins and the despondency of human life. Of how the presence of prepossession would only make the ominous falter, but then if we all were prosecuted for our thoughts, the guillotine would be our second home.

It was unfaltering to envision how the absence of an element could often encompass the flaw and envelope the difference to constitute the entirety. Something similar had happened to our family after Asif had been prosecuted for committing a war crime, which wasn’t an uncommon ordeal in the obsolescence that stood hanging over the disputed city of Palestine. Of how neither the prosecuted nor the prosecutors were liberated from the blood drying up on their hands and crime was the hanging rope of the patriarch over the populace. Such was the rope that hung over the head of the hand that would once pat my back for taking a step unhindered towards an anonymous advancement.

I reminiscence back to the warming day under the shaded willow tree, where Asif and I would often assert which sport we were more adept at and which line on our hand ensured greater success for either of us. It was on that day of no holy date where I sat shielded like an encapsulated seed inside the pod, waiting for the skies to darken until no light could ever be the epitome of optimism again. It was all in a momentary glance at the rusting iron gate where I saw life in its liberated shackles. The pivot of opposition, held as the centerpiece of an aborted victory, or more like the dwindling life that managed to escape the tightening loophole around its inconsequential mutiny.

It was evident, the sallow, dewy skin that lay lifeless on Asif’s scrawny body along with his unkept beard and heavy-lidded eyes. His grimacing expression rested peacefully upon the raided verdancy as he exited the military vehicle and was coerced inside the house by a group of militants clutching tightly the barrels hung over their shoulders inside a house even stripped of food. It was all a silent hush as it had always been, for no one liked to contemplate about a normal renegade opposing the treacherous militants who would harass children, rape women of raided households and torture the vindictive men. Of how the war crime was to be prosecuted only for the layman and not for the one who ruled by the law of weaponry and inhumanity.

The days that followed were a blur in the cataract, as I saw the locus dampening and disheveling beneath the storm, as I would hear Asif wailing throughout the course of the night like a dog being ripped off of its intestines. The evenings as he would rush to the bathroom to throw up on the only food left for the entire month as our stomachs would clench with the famine enveloping our household, but what could be worse than hunger? Probably the snarling look that I would get every time I advanced towards him, to converse, probably console or contribute in the absolution, but a shove from the eyes was enough for my retreat. I still wonder, what virtue Asif would have prayed to as he stabbed the militant in his bare chest, splattering blood all over the freshly cleaned carpet for all I could envision were the sobs of my baby sister over the gunfire.

How hypocritical it was when I would gaze into the lifeless orbs and find Asif hampering and squirming as the militants would burn his flesh and electrocute the tenanted soul to uncover the truth behind his apostate organization or perhaps extract his teeth to dement him with his lop-sided grin which eventually faded out. Maybe it was the force-feeding that would make him puke even after a spoonful of his food or the branded enslavement on his back that would burn and sting over the course of the night as he would throw up blood over the toilet while I held back the moisture at the tip of my eyes and yelled into the aged bedspread.

I had presumed the encapsulation of vice over the virtue, the ever-growing tumor to have infected the lucidity of all contemplation as his agitation would boil over and metamorphose into fury and Asif would have to be left in solitary confinement, something that was considered more of a luxury than retribution. But then months passed by and a glimpse of rationality unclothed itself as Asif started uttering and muffling words back to existence. None of us could comprehend much of it, but there was a sign of lingering optimism as he would sleep soundlessly and then cast a momentary look of serenity as I would wait under the willow tree or pass him a plate of food on the dinner table. And then he started formulating words back again and would draw illustrations of scenic wonders on the dampened walls. And then perhaps it was the sound of laughter that echoed one night over the fireplace as he showed me his rugged hands and a vanishing success line. The vice that was previously entitled to him now felt like a pang of agony left untethered.

But then I often forget to reminisce of the old willow tree that Asif became a daily inhabitant of as he would sit incessantly day and night whispering to himself, perhaps reciting the verse of remission or a curse of ill-omens. The posterior however seems more likely as the guillotine made its way to our own backyard and to the only wholesome memory left vacant in my brain as I advanced that night among the over-grown grass and the cicadas chirping in the far distance to find myself lost under the willow tree sought to find Asif mumbling in the twilight. But all I laid eyes upon was an estranged figure hung by a nuclear thread of remorse, casting an everlasting shadow over the once-blooming success lines, an eventual rot of the guillotine of absolution.

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