Death of a Cow Slaughterer.

I, Arif Mohammed Khan, 34 years old, is lying on this road awaiting my death. Death was always that remote shapeless demon, whom I never expected to see face to face. An unbidden nightmare that lurked in the backwaters of my mind - this death that I was forever successful in evading!

At every moment of unease, I saw death somewhere around me. When the piece of my heart, my youngest son Dawood, was late from the madrassa - I saw it. When my Abu won’t pick up my late night calls seeking business advice. When my younger brother Isa’s phone was unreachable. In sweet afternoon naps when Ammi’s face flashed over my mind and I am suddenly awake - I think about death and reach over to my phone. The moment they pick up the phone or I am appraised of their continuing existence, I quickly get back to normalcy.

You do relate to this, don’t you? To suddenly find ourselves shut from the world because we fear the death of a beloved. If it is late in the night, I earnestly pray to Allah for forgiveness. I ask him with all my heart to take my life before everyone else’s. This might come off as a bit childish for a 34 year old man. But Allah, with his infinite wisdom has granted this wish now.

I am the first one to die. I will be dead and gone soon.

I was sinking into a blissful afternoon nap as the lorry took the exit from the Delhi-Jaipur highway and sank into this dusty road to Barsat. I quickly grew tired of the featureless countryside. The post-lunch lassi was slowly working its magic on me as I found my eyelids drooping and the whole world melting away around me. As the windshield of my beloved lorry broke the breeze, conjuring up an artificial wind that graced the cabin, I found myself floating through an eternal abyss. My soft belly was shaking rhythmically with the rumble of the engine. We will be home in an hour or two, maybe three if we are to go slow. But I trusted Satish to drive with haste.

Satish was humming a bollywood number as he ran his adept fingers over the steering wheel. They rested on the plastic covering with a sense of ease that comes only after a long relationship, many decades long. Imtiyaz, who called himself the ‘conductor’, was watching some dance video on his phone - occasionally looking up to see if there’s something interesting coming up in the road. In the video, the camera sized up the navels and shaking hips of a woman who danced to fluent hindustani but didn’t look even remotely Indian.

As we were absorbed in this journey that we have done perhaps a hundred times before, we didn’t know that it would be our last. This is going to be the last time Arif Mohammed Khan would see daylight.

Imtiyaz was the first to see it. An ominous cluster of saffron flags and a road blocked with barrels and burning tyres. The hunting party stood there, fully stashed with sharp arrows and loud drummers, As they slowly stepped out of the mirage in this deserted road, rising hot air made the graceful movements of a dancing girl. The tarmac slowly metamorphosed into a hunting field. Us, the hunted, helplessly drove towards our terrifying end.

What followed, as you already know - is hardly any news. Imtiyaz managed to run away. Satish was dragged down and brutally beaten up. The crowd was effervescent with hatred to lay their hands on me. But a stern hand kept them away me for the time being. I was the prize - I had to be devoured only towards the end. Satish, though low born, had avenues for a Ghar Wapsi. But me, an hopeless infidel - has to be exterminated in this holy war - this Jihad! That is when it dawned on me that I am certainly going to die.

But as optimistic as ever, I refused to believe this. I trusted in my credentials as an hustler. I will talk them out of this, I believed. What are they to gain from killing me? I tried to logically construct an argument in my head as I saw a few teeth dropping from Satish’s bloodied mouth, as if beads from a violated necklace. A wretched thin boy had hit him on the cheek with a twisted danda (a stick). He fell on his knees and spat out a thick, red Indian map on the broken tarmac. This cake was interspersed with white raisins - his teeth that will never grow back after this day.

A part of me was still alert while staring at this blood curdling reality. I promised myself that I would refuse to die. Even if they break every bone of my body or slit every artery. If I hold on to my breath, I will survive till someone finds me. I know that the traffic is low on this route, but there should be occasional passerbys. They will take me to help. The frantic movements of my ribs and a cold, churning stomach made me doubt my convictions. But still, I decided to hold on.

The same wretched boy who hit Satish was the first one to slap me on my face. Someone dragged him back. Clearly, he has broken the chain of command. An older man with bloodshot eyes and pan-lit lips came forward. He seemed to rejoice at the fear that has made home in my eyes. My trembling arms were held by two teenagers. One of them was clenching it with his claws, consciously digging his nails into my flesh. Some hands were tearing the depths of my sprawling back. My buttocks were being pinched with nails determined to violate me. As the crowd let itself sink on me, I had a realisation.

Just like cleaning someone else’s faeces, getting lynched can be a spiritual experience too.

The man with bloodshot eyes had the entire scene under control. One deafening shout and the hands withdrew from me. I was nauseated and felt deep bruises all over my body. There was an unnatural calmness for a split second and then he spat on my face. I didn’t dare wipe it off. As it slowly made its way down from my eyes through the tip of my nose, he spat again and again. To my surprise, I didn’t feel humiliated as the spat entered my mouth through the corner of my lips. I was beginning to taste death and afterlife.

Here’s one thing most of you wouldn’t know. You wouldn’t know this unless you manage to get yourself lynched. This is a unique experience and teaches you more about life than anything else that you could experiment with. The crowd is not just an amorphous creature with limbs that thrash and heads that tear you apart with their booming war cries. The crowd is a collection of dicks too. As a bunch of dicks collectively pound on a dead man, a lot of interesting things start to happen.

I never thought of lynching this way. In my mind, death would be extremely painful. After a bunch of blows, I drop dead as they leave me alone to rot. Ladies and gentlemen, I am afraid, this is not how lynchings work. If you would let me, I will tell you how it is.

The sharp claws that dug on my back was just an indication of what was to come. As the man signalled for a second round of torment - it became clear to me that their hands were just extensions to their embattled dicks. My soft paunch was an object of ridicule to them. Their protein deficient bodies swayed in chaotic unison as blows after blows were landed on my lacerated midriff.

A manchild tried to shove a danda through my gaand. It wasn’t an easy passage. But he was determined to make it happen. I winced in unbearable pain as he persistently stuck to this single object of passion for him. But he gave up after a while, perhaps disgusted by the spurt of blood that started to line my white pyjamas.

Mainstream media won’t tell you this, but most lynching victims turn up with squashed testicles and shredded penises. I could feel hands competing with each other to destroy my testicles that will spawn an entire army of enemy aliens if left unharmed. Almost 17 fingers from five hands found my penis simultaneously. In a split second, they undid my loins and denatured this potent agent of love jihad. Oh my poor lund, which has graced no other woman but my beautiful wife Noorjahan! There you are, remnants of which are still stuck under the nails of these men pounding on me as a bunch of vile, dirty, monstrous, filthy dicks from hell!

As men tried to pull out my nipples, lacerate my thighs and undo my paunch, I was slowly getting absorbed into the vast abyss that lied outside this sad, lonely planet. Death, of course is not the end. It is human nature to assume that it is the ultimate end to this human experience. If they didn’t, how could they brutally murder me in the broad daylight and fear no retribution? To uphold violence is to denounce God - it doesn’t matter by what name you call Him..

Death was meant to be painful, or so I thought. I braced myself for an extremely debilitating climax. But when it came at last, I found myself relaxed and looking forward to it. My sinews lightened and a breeze of fresh air swept across my body. Pronouncing me dead was of course a deed too smart for the morons who killed me.

When they thought I was dead, they pounded on me harder and unleashed extreme monstrosity upon my dying body. This was to tire them quickly. Most of them were breathless by the time a draining climax hit them. The leader was the first to leave. He stood there, looking at my death, as he slowly took a pinch of tobacco from his pouch and ground it between his palm and a thumb. As he shove this tobacco mixture under his lower lip, he realised that he was getting an unbearably painful erection.

He shouted again and they left me alone. They believed that I was done for good. One of them, as a parting gesture, broke two of my unbroken ribs with a thumping feet. Some of them spat on my face again. As my body emerged out of the dispersing crowd, lesser and lesser of them would look back to the spot where I lay. As it turns out, without the mob, none of them will have the courage to look at my ruins and believe that they were capable of unleashing such cruelty on any living being. I knew that most of them were vegetarians. How convenient!

Death came soon afterwards.

Death opens up this world to us. The massive timescales and distances are no longer incomprehensible. Those millions of years that they talk about, these billions of people who inhabit this earth - you transcend into a domain were all these are as quotidian as a drop of unani medicine or a kilo of basmati rice.

Just before I died, an handsome young stranger approached me. I grew unbearably thirsty as he presented a glass of incredibly clear water to me. I refused, turning my head away from him. He was shaitan, the devil himself. Then it was the time for Azrael, sent by God to fetch our souls. I imagined him (or her?), to be a strongman easily picking up my soul and dash back to heaven in a sense of urgency. Even under my limited education, I knew that he was supposed to be a hectic man.

But Azrael turned out to be a timid, androgynous man who seemed frustrated at his job. As he harvested my buzzing firefly-like soul from me, his hands almost trembled. Probably he disliked this job. Or the hesitation came from the depths of his psyche were death was an unfortunate side effect of birth. He would have happily traded his job for that of a midwife. But Allah, in his infinite wisdom, knows best!

He hesitated a bit before vaulting my soul and then mounted on his lightning chariot. This chariot turned out to have clumsy technology as well - after an initial hesitation, it took up insane speeds, and coiled up to the gates of heaven.

The seconds after my death were the most peaceful. I expected life after death to be devoid of carnal pleasures. Of course Allah promised many of them in the heaven. But for me, it was a symptom of decadence. Perhaps Allah will let me meditate and worship him in a peaceful corner of heaven. I will see my family from there and be in peace forever.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. As Azrael was harvesting my soul, I saw myself thinking about my beloved wife Noorjahan. Thought of her supple lips and a lush rump made me quiver with desire. Numerous pale blue nights we spent under the moon with our bosoms tight in embrace. The unadulterated love out of which our little angels were born. I will miss my Noor, my love, the sweet moonlight of my life, the piece of my heart!

I am a man dispossessed of his loins, I was ashamed when I realised this. A man is decimated only when his desire has been thoroughly foiled. What will my Noor think when she realise that I can’t no longer make her merry the way I could before? I know that love is far beyond the realms of our clumsy hips - but as a man who has been undone by other men hellbent on destroying my manhood, will you fault me for thinking with my deceased dick?

Every soul shall taste death once. Or maybe more. As I am talking, Azrael is taking my soul to heaven. I have no clue what happens afterwards. I have trusted elders on their descriptions of death and afterlife. But I am already proven wrong many times. When I look at the feminine lips and timid eyelashes of Azrael, I can’t help but think about the surprises that lay waiting for me.

I don’t understand Arabic. I have never read and understood the revealed word. Whatever that Prophet, peace be upon him, has said and hence recorded in his mother tongue is out of bounds for me.If you look at my village or the entire district, you will find less than a handful of men who could do that. And no women at it, none! I regret my ignorance, but I am sure that Allah knows best. This ignorance might have been a shade under which he allowed us to grow and thrive.

But I am dead now, for no reason. Maybe I shouldn’t have involved myself in this risky trade. Maybe I should have chosen a different road. Maybe I should have had a partner who had a different name, religion. Maybe, just maybe, I should have stayed at home under the shade of my beloved Noor, playing with our little angels. A deep regret enveloped me and permeated through my abstract rib cage that was on the verge of explosion. I missed my real ribcage that cracked under the feet of those morons. Along with all those things that defined me before my death.

At that moment, I turned vegetarian and vowed not to eat beef again. I once again looked at my dead body, shrunk like a rotting vegetable. Blood and lymph flowing out through the lacerations dug upon it by those men of virtue. They were nothing but the arms of god - through whom I shall now be reunited with Allah. From the temptations of the flesh and machinations of the devil, I shall now finally attain peace. My loins are shredded, and I am free. God is great and I shall live forever - away from my sins. Only God knows the best!

These terse emotions piled upon each other when a final solution dawned upon me. My mind was growing sullen with these chaotic thoughts that made me human. Azrael advised me to retract all of them and dissolve myself into this vast abyss. I did it at once.

I wrote this in 2019, publishing after lying in my google drive for five years.

Written on July 7, 2024