by Chetna Sharma
"Why did this happen. Is this a new karma or some of my past sins?" these were some of the thoughts going on in the mind of Rashid, when the officer on duty shouted "your mother has come, go and meet her."
Slowly, Rashid moved with the officer. He pushed Rashid to the bench where his mother was waiting. She moved her hands on his forehead and said, "Remember Allah and read the Holy Quran before...." Tears kept rolling down her cheeks as she was talking. Rashid was speechless and sat like a stone. But he could not control his emotions and broke down.
"Please forgive me ammi, I am going now."
"No, be brave – don’t cry and just remember Allah," she said and hugged him.
"Time up", came a voice from behind. Rashid again hugged his ammi and said "please don’t ever cry for me, I am a sinner." She kept her fingers on his lips, "you live in my heart", saying this she kissed him on the forehead and left.
The officer dragged Rashid towards his cell, "shame on you", he murmured as he locked the cell.
"This is my last night, tomorrow same time I would be free of this body, Allah please forgive me," with closed eyes Rashid was deliberating in his mind. "I don’t want to think about death, how beautiful life was. Sarah was my first and only love. We would go to college together, study, laugh and fight."
Sarah's smiling face kept flashing in his mind. It was hard for Rashid to forget her. "You gave me happiness and at the same time took everything away”,
he said to himself.
Memories took him back to the wintry evening when he and Sarah were returning from college. They were walking towards home when a gang of four boys stopped them.
"Where are you going with this lovely girl," said one of the boys. Rashid angrily said "leave our way". They recognised one of the boys; he was from Sarah's locality. The boys had sticks in their hands and started beating Rashid.
“You run, go home”, Rashid shouted at Sarah
“No, I won’t leave you and go”, she said.
Sarah was getting anxious and didn’t know how to save Rashid. Her eyes fell on a heavy stone; she picked it and without realising threw it on the boy from her locality. He immediately collapsed and fell on the ground. The other boys realising the gravity of the situation ran.
"What did I do?" Sarah said crying bitterly.
"You did nothing, I did"' Rashid whispered in her ears. "If you open your mouth I would kill myself. Promise you would say nothing." Rashid kept her hand on his head and said "promise you would live for me."
Sarah was nervous and fearful, "yes I would never open my mouth, this would be an eternal secret," she said with tears in her eyes.
Rashid safely left her home and went to the Police Station. He admitted the crime. "Murderer, cold blooded, that’s how he was addressed but only Sarah knew the truth. The legal battle was not long as Rashid admitted the crime.
The clock was striking three; he read the Namaz and smilingly moved towards the altar. Sarah's smiling face was his saving grace.