The fire in the young man’s eyes dwindled, just for a second, when he saw his target. The ancient road bride, it seemed ridiculous to even think it, seemed familiar to him. He stopped for a second, staring hard at the faded orange trimmings and the distinctive crown placed at the top of her head by some optimistic owner.
The young man shot a look over his shoulder at his comrades and, once certain nobody was paying attention, swiftly went around the side of the old road bride to get a closer look. Carefully, he hid the can of petrol he had been carrying behind one of the tyres and stepped closer to the side door. The once colorful trimmings that had proudly greeted passengers was peeling and dusty, but he climbed in through the door anyway. On pure instrinct, he quietly crept forward past all the empty seats in the men’s section and finally came to a stop near the first seat in the women’s section.
On seat closest to the window, he noticed someone had poked a hole the size of a child’s fist in the plastic seat covers. In a daze, he slowly lowered himself onto the uncomfortably small seat, right next to the small hole in the cover and gently fingered it. Overcome by a suddent urge, he rolled his own hand into a fist and tried to fit it into the small hole. Of course it doesn’t fit anymore, he thought with a small flash of anger. Nothing fits anymore. He twisted his body around to look at the cage that was the men’s section, half expecting to see his father, hunched over and sweating, holding on for balance with one arm, but always ready for a conspiritorial wink. He suddenly remembered his father’s luxurious moustache, always resembling an upside-down ‘V’. The ends would elevate until they were almost level, forming an almost straight line with the force of a smile a man reserves for his pride and joy.
The boy fingered the hole in the seat covers one last time then reluctantly rose and walked towards the men’s section once again. As he passed the empty seats, he proudly hunched the way his father must have done every day. Before he knew it, he was out in the street again. Suddenly his father’s smile was eclipsed by the image of his bullet ridden body, left out in the streets as men and women alike gathered around and watched, distant and uncaring as trees that surround a clearing. A premature frown reappeared on the young man’s face as he abruptly swung around and resolutely picked up the can of petrol he had earlier hidden. The world would burn tonight.
Teray Tann Mein
Teray Mann Mein
Teray Ghar Ko Aag Lag Jaaye
Aur Tujhay Jaagna Aaye
– Saari Raat Jaaga, Noori
May all who lost their lives in the tragic violence in this city rest in peace. Ameen.