By: Aamir Sohail
Do you remember how it feels to be really wrong? Like when you close your eyes and walk down the steps and you feel there is one last step, except there isn’t and you’ve reached the bottom. That skipping of the heart that happens when you realize you fucked up. That single pause in your motion picture life when you see that moment again, thinking, ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’
That happens to me all the time. It happened to me this afternoon when I forgot to bury my dog and left him in the baking sun for half a day. I was sitting at the table and eating my lunch when I noticed a god-awful stink that crept up my nose and hurt my brain. I tried to ignore it and ate my lunch, until I started to cut my meat and the image of the dog lying in my garden which I saw that morning came back to me. Fuck! What was I thinking?
I had woken up that morning and looked out the window, and saw Doggy lying down like he was dead. One glance and I knew, that’s the kind of relationship we had. And then I went to the bathroom and, you know, brushed my teeth, took a dump as everyone does. I did my morning routine, you see, I made myself a cup of tea, read the paper and then ate breakfast. I then did my afternoon routine, work in the garage workshop on the days products. You see, I am a carpenter, I make chairs and tables and make those wooden wardrobe where people keep their clothes. I make those by myself. I do a lot of things by myself, actually. I work by myself and I go to bars by myself and I go see movies by myself. I live by myself too, and sometimes I get really lonely.
But you have to understand, this is new for me. I used to live with my father, when he was alive. He left me this nice house. He left me his tools and his car, too. My mother died after giving birth to me, about a year later, my father had said.
My father was a very good man, I used to respect him and wanted to be like him. He was a business man, my old man. He was a good one too, used to take long business trips to different places all the time. Once I was in this little room where my father had told me to stay in because I dropped a glass in the kitchen and it broke, to teach me a lesson, you know. And I stayed inside because I was a good boy, and I wanted him to know that. But after some time I got hungry, I shouldn’t have because there was no food in the room. So I had to go out of the room and get it. I called for my father to get me some food but he didn’t. After some more time, my stomach started to make noises, they became louder and louder. But I did not go out of the room. Some more time passed and I fell asleep, I woke up after a while and slept again. When I woke up next time I was really hungry, so I said to myself, “I will go to the kitchen, really fast and get something to eat and come back, really fast.” So I ran to the kitchen and when I got there, the front door opened and in comes my dad, dragging a suitcase and looking tired, and my dad says, “What the fuck are you doing outside the room?”
And he takes a chair and throws it at me. “What the fuck were you thinking?”
I learnt my lesson from that day. But you have to understand, it was not all that bad, you see, my dad was a good parent. When he was taking one of those business trips, he asked me if I wanted to come and I said yes. So we went on the business trip. We went in a car and it was really fun, we had this game where my dad would run over stray animals on the road. He looked at me and laughed every time he ran over another one. It wasn’t much fun for me, but I could see he was enjoying himself. So I laughed along with him, because, you know, who wants to be a killjoy? Not me.
We get to the hotel in this small town and it’s nice. Clean bed sheets and toilets and all that. In the morning, my father goes about his business in the town, ‘Prospecting’ he called it. He said he will take me out and about later and said there was a present for me.
I sit in the room, watching TV and eating chips and such and he comes back around midnight and takes me in his car to a little dark hut somewhere far from the little town. We go in with a torch and open the creaky door. I can’t see what’s inside but I know the present is there. He switches on a little bulb in the middle of the room and, Presto! There is a woman tied to a khata in one corner of the room. I am confused and I ask, “Is this mummy?”
“No,” my father says, over the woman’s hoarse screaming muffled by the rag in her mouth, “This is your present. I’m teaching you a new game. It’s called ‘Stab the bitch.’”
I was intrigued by the game because I had never heard of it before, but was still confused, and I guess my father knew. He said, “Come closer and I’ll show you how we play.” He went closer to the woman, whose eyes bulged as he did and her cries weakened and tears started to roll down her eyes, and into the rag.
“We take this knife, you see, and we do this.” He said bringing the knife down into her belly, staring at her face all the time. Red, liquid-y blood dripped from where he put his knife in and it came coming, without stopping, it made a little dark pool that spread from under the bed and came towards me.
“Now you try.” He said, giving me the knife. It didn’t seem like much fun but I wanted to try. Hell, maybe if I did good, my father will say something nice. So I took the knife and I stabbed the bitch. Blood came out like it was coming out of a perfume bottle. It soaked my shirt, and I had to clean it for a long time when I went back to the hotel room. I drove the knife into the woman’s leg and my father said, “Son, what do you think you’re doing?”
“Stabbing the bitch, dad.” I said.
“No, you idiot, you’re stabbing her in the wrong place. You lose.”
Fuck! What was I thinking?
It’s been a long time but I still play that game sometimes. Lately, it’s gotten fun. I go in may dad’s car and I find a woman like the women that used to be tied to my dad’s bed sometimes and I ask them to come home. They always seem so enthusiastic, when I promise them a lot of money. I tie them to the bed with some rope and they say something like, “You are one of those, huh?”
Sure, why not, right? And then I play stab the bitch like I used to with my father. He used to be so happy after we played. Maybe because he always won, I wasn’t very good at it, you know?
But my dad didn’t show me how to clean up after we played. Last time, there was so much blood, from the time before that, it was awful, and I kept slipping and falling, blood on dried blood, I realized, was very slippery.
Anyway I have to bury that woman, you see, she’s lying in the bed in my dad’s room. I usually put her in the car trunk and drive to somewhere far, where there are many trees. As I go out, carrying the woman on my shoulder, I see the dog, flies surrounding his rotting black flesh. And I think, I should bury him too. So I take the woman and balance her on the rim of the trunk. And then I go to the dog, lying in my garden, I should water the plants too, I think, they all seem sad. There are a few crows picking at the pink part of the flesh too. I chase them away and pick up the dog and put him in my back seat. I then drive to a far place with lots of trees.
I put some music on and it feels like I’m on a trip with my dad. I miss him, truth be told, I miss his games and his lessons. I wish I had been a good son to him. I remember when he was in that open space somewhere in the prison he was kept, you know? That place with that wooden thingy with the rope dangling from the middle? Yeah, that. I remember him saying, “Son, you always were a fucking disappointment to me, I wish you’re whore of a mother never had you.”
I ask him, what is a ‘whore?’
But too late, he is taken from me and to the rope and it’s tied to his neck and he drops, and kicks and kicks and the feet stop kicking and he’s gone, dead, kaput, they tell me. I look up the word in the dictionary and I don’t like what I read.
Anyway I’m here, in the place full of trees. I take my dog out to bury him and I dig with my hands, a hole big enough to keep him. I come back and see the trunk open and I think, why is the trunk open? And then my heart skips a beat and I realize I’ve fucked up. There is a pause in my motion picture life as the image of the woman balanced on the rim of my trunk comes back.
Fuck! What was I thinking?