Mushtaque B Barq

Punishment

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Drooped neck coiled behind the iron bars, Danish was down like an inert stack. His limbs like his bald head were portraying nothing__Nothing momentous.  A monotonous look of his bald head held between those frail arms appeared cemented and controlled.  His neck was naked like a freshly ravished hilltop after a bombardment to yield minerals and his forlorn bald head was a remnant after a demolition.  The mystery between the two naked hill tops was on cards as one was recounting the death of hope and the other was communicating the burdened shoulders dumped under the lumber afar resistance.  Between his knees, his bald head was strained like a sinner forcibly pushed into purgatory through a narrow and unending tunnel. His head was still, his shoulders fixed and browbeaten to a complete submission.

A few iron bars of his cell from a distance were dividing Danish into parts. His drooped head in one of the frames, his shoulders, his knees and the feet split him into other frames. The thick angle iron administrated into those friendless iron bars was further slicing him into two halves like his conscious and unconscious being. His upper half was motionless and the lower one almost departed. Between these bars, Danish was scattered into bits beyond recognition.

The solitary window case over his drooped head was too high to be peeped through to catch a glimpse of the world outside the compressed confines. The walls were bashed, tortured, ravished and mutilated. Danish amidst this devastating record was a palpable illustration of obliteration.

A corner of his cell was jammed with a few rusted tins, almost eaten up by the rust, a few bottomless and a few brimless like his own body that had lost much of energy and enthusiasm, serving the purpose of responding to natural calls. Too shabby, too filthy like his disregarded body. The reek of human excreta had almost choked the surrounding. It was excessively pungent to force anyone to vomit continuously. Danish was like a heap of filth next to rustic tins like decomposed excreta, the worst companion of his cell. He was a prisoner in his own prison without judgment and judiciary, without crime and conclusion and more importantly without a will.

To a few Danish was an incarnation of the ethereal entity. Hidden deep into his own conscious, trying to find: Who, Why and Where of his existence. His body was still like a dead log ready to surprise even the sharpest blades, his motionless conscious was apparently out of joints yet to someone Danish was a living god in the dead cell. His consistency in maintaining the droop of his neck unfolded many mysteries. His posture was like a picture of my history book displaying a man under a massive tree peeping into his ‘being’ to extract something vital. The only difference between Danish and the man in the picture was the atmosphere. Danish was far ahead in surrendering his will than the man in the picture of my history book. The massive tree with mighty shade and freshness around would even lure devils to obey, but the stink in the cell would even compel the saints in mediation to suspend their search. Danish was more determined, more upright and more focused. His posture was holier than saints in meadows.

At noon, a guard passed by his cell banged the iron bars with his steel cane. It was lunchtime. Danish responded by uncoiling his head. His eyes had put down the lids and face almost captivated behind the shabby beard, hard to recognize. His arms wished to stretch a bit but the iron rings slipped into his wrists denied the access. His knees were tied with an iron chain to let him never to think of moving his limbs. He was a bird held in a cage that broke his wings and destroyed his beak.

A plate was pushed into the cell; Danish somehow managed to drag it close. Dry bread and a bowl of soup with a handful of rice were all he had to rely on.  He raised his head and opened his eyes took a few morsels and wished to drink but for certain reasons could not quench his thirst. To quench his thirst means to add more stink to the already filthy corner. The unpleasant odor which even animals would like to avoid; Danish was a part of it perhaps recognizing the reality of his corporal limitations. He has risen above mediocrity as his posture was relevant enough for a seeker to know the cause of sin, its consequences and above all its significance.

Just after he had taken his lunch, he leaned against the wall to analyze the sketch on the opposite wall of his cell. A woman with a baby in her arms carved by some prisoner was the only apparent sketch amidst of numerous faded impressions. He continued to gaze at the sketch. He was absorbed into those arms; his eyelids were occasionally drooped and finally, those sunken eyes were closed.

The arms of the mother in the sketch suddenly appeared bigger and wide which grasped Danish who was reduced to a tiny babe. A speck before a heap. Those majestic arms start stroking his head and rubbing his shoulders. His limbs relaxed after a long time as a touch of love applied balm to his wounds. He was weeping without a cry; he was silent but narrating something to her. She grasped him tight as he coiled his body which seemed under the spell of love. The movement was brisk, his legs and arms suffered regained vitality. His breathing was too slow to declare him dead, but the corner of his shirt near his belly was occasionally beating against his lean frame, giving a clue that he was still alive, active but under a spell of magic as his limbs was controlled like his mind. He appeared like a snake guarding a treasure in some remote temple, waiting for a right priest to uncoil his body to unfold the mystery of the treasure.

A jerk re-assembled his entire body, his limbs moved, his head stood firm against the wall, his chest moved briskly but his eyes continued to obey the darkness, he was still gazing at the mysteries in that darkest tunnel for the search of light to find his way out, but he was struggling to come out.

Once again his limbs dropped, but this time he was thrown to the floor of his cell, his head banged against the shabby floor, his back was so feeble that one could easily calculate the bones of his backbone. He prostrated and never stood again.

Before the dusk, Danish was not attended by anyone, but then, a routine check across his cell made some guards peep through those iron bars behind which the sinner was to be punished without cleaning his sin.

They cried at Danish, he did not respond. The jailor was informed, he opened the door of the cell, inspected Danish, called the doctor who declared him dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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