Zameen stepped out of the apartment and felt the guilt seep out of her body. Her fingers shook with the fleeting memory of a revolver she felt she was still holding. Determined to be free for the next phase of her life, she began thinking of the river which lay ahead, of the man who stabbed her. Her mind recaptured the overpowering sensation she had felt on pulling the trigger. She pumped two bullets into his maddening heart and her body throbbed with a mixed pleasure of sex and murder. It was inevitable. Love must die its own death before the world corrupts it.
From the pit of her stomach rose strange sensations which send her mind into a reverie. At that precise moment, standing oblivious and forlorn and looking far ahead of the consequences of her act, she dreamt of happiness. The bird singing on her window every morning, the violence with which she pursued its flight – happiness. What she had done moments ago seemed to her the culmination of her dreams. With intense passion she had made love. With equal violence she pulled the trigger. Both deeds accomplished with unsettling ease. First allowing her body to torment him with elusive pleasure and then releasing themselves from the absurdity of their love which had destroyed their meaningless world.
On the street, her mind hinged on the intricate line of freedom and captivity. She looked towards the road which led to the river. The image of river entrapped her being. Sensing the freedom she was about to throw herself in and float on its promise, she started walking.
Her mind resembled an empty slate – a single line could taint her elusive promise of freedom. If she gave in, she would soon find herself thrown back to the meanings her act had created. Taking silent and purposeful steps as if her whole life had been a build up to this, her mind focused on the river; its water soaking her body and drawing life out of it in an effortless, painless manner.
A thrill shook her body succumbing her to her deepest self. Zameen lost focus to the movements on the street. It was late evening. The sun was disappearing behind the tallest buildings and casting a yellow gaze on the houses which lined up on the opposite end of the street. Traffic was low and small cars carrying small families were moving slowly towards the beach which lay a mile off. Only a Toyota was speeding at a dangerous pace towards the bridge.
Zameen was close to the old stone bridge, the water underneath was shining and waiting.
Zameen’s father drove the Toyota from the house sixteen minutes earlier, exactly the time she pulled the trigger on the gun and fulfilled her father’s deepest fear. Her father had thrown her out of the house few hours earlier in a moment of blind rage. Unable to reconcile with the dishonor she felt wasn’t going away unless he shot her. She took his father’s revolver.
Outside their house, Zameen felt snubbed by the entire world, as if it didn’t want her to exist. She felt irrevocably alone. The bird she would chase in her dreams had escaped her vision. Finding the revolver was still with her, its cold metallic touch reassured her, she still had a chance coming towards her in clear vision. Clutching her weapon, she rushed to Maroof’s apartment.
A clear-headed Zameen treaded towards the bridge while her father was speeding up in dense fear towards her. As she turned on the last corner, not aware of the speeding Toyota which also turned its last corner and headed to the bridge, Zameen’s heart skipped a beat. Focusing on the pain she didn’t want to feel, she found herself on the bridge. Moving slowly to the left, she now stood close to the railing from which she intended to jump into the bosom of the river. She glanced at the river. She felt she couldn’t do it. The water radiated in her eye. She felt its deep core calling to her but the rational pain in her mind had betrayed her. Moving backwards without caution, Zameen felt a whirling sensation of tremendous pain as the Toyota crashed into her, casting her into a flight. The crash shattered her skull on the stony surface of the bridge. She died at the moment her father hit the railings to send the entire family over the bridge into the waiting river.
August 5, 2011.
Originally published here — https://archive.authintmail.com/article/reporters-journal/waiting-river-short-story