The clip found its way to YouTube, and my friends in college showed it to others on their phones as if it were a video of a back-heel nutmeg by Ronaldinho. I was guilty too, simply because I shared in the excitement. Many years later, it haunted me. He knelt, reading out something they’d forced him to. You could see the pain in his eyes, the horror in that look that begged for mercy. He knew that death was nearby like an uncontrollable, rabid dog rushing towards him, but he still grappled with fate; wrestled with all his might against an indomitable force, and even though the contest looked like a scrawny, one-armed man trying to take down a Herculean, undefeated Olympic champion, he didn’t give up. He wanted to survive. I’m sure he’d wrapped himself with a blanket of delusion, and refused to let actuality pry it free.
Perhaps, he prayed, and asked for both justice and grace, his petition so different from his mechanical chant at the Thanksgiving table. He was, at that moment, in the dusk of his life, reading from that penultimate chapter of his novel, but unable to digest the words because what once read like a metaphorical delight with a debonair protagonist was turning into an unambiguous note, filled with grammatical errors, written by an unwashed, tired, bedraggled slave robbed of even the right to think. I’m sure he envisioned returning home to her; thought of when he met her, and how that moment became the apogee of his personal life. He’d found true love at last, but it was now enveloped by a miasma of despair, and her laughter, which always summoned an ebullience that poets like Neruda have immortalised, was now a faint stutter that tried to give him hope but failed, and the world they’d sewn out of Rayon Challis was now spinning in the laundry machine, looking like a coarse, mop cloth.
He waited, and then felt the sword, and you could see the agony in his eyes as it tore through the Levator scapulae. They were sawing away as if his neck was the bark of a tree. Soon his neck was partly separated from his body, and the sight resembled a normal distribution curve with the hanging head rising to meet the laceration and the rest of the neck descending from it. It had an odd symmetry to it, and maybe my description is callous, but what’s really ruthless is men with black scarves around their faces, robbing a child’s innocence, and creating fissures in his heart by brutally murdering his father; men with twisted notions of faith, killing in the name of religion and declaring war on an already fallen race that is struggling to get by, and hoping to find elusive peace. Men butchering men like animals to announce their credo, to create a cause founded on askew notions of truth, constructing an anathema with no real backbone. An abomination that has flayed reason and emotion with an unmitigated penchant for destruction like an unpredictable tempest.
Men who’ve descended that ladder of depravity, lost all inhibition, and are now like grunting and howling animals; carnal beasts who rape, plunder and then castigate immorality; men who are driven by frightening, twisted scruples, and don’t mind dying for them. Men who’ve abandoned love, and are already in perdition, hoping to devour many as they walk their journey of corrupt instinct; jog their marathon of hatred and run their race of devilry.