The room was tepid. He was in the midst of the horde. His mother was singing praises of him. Other women joined the chorus. They sang in unison. Encircled by a swarm of people, he reclined silent. I heard a girl yelling, “Let me see the Mahraaz,” squeezing herself through the weeny gaps of the crowd.
A bronze bowl full of Mehndi paste, busied his sister’s hands. She seemed impatient. Taking a blob of the paste, she anointed it on his little finger. The room showered toffees. Children, accompanying the women started to collect toffees from the floor, unaware of the occasion. Some elderly men occupied the corners of the room, confabbing. His sister looked into his face but he never looked back.
There was a mystique festivity. Boys peeped into the room through wide open windows to share his glance. But, he was asleep. His father entered the room with his sunken visage. Everyone in the room gazed at him. His mother exclaimed, “Where were you? Look, your Mahraaz is getting ready.” Keeping his head in his lap, his father started combing his hair with his fingers. The women were still singing.
The courtyard swarmed with people. His friends bustled through the house while making frequent visits to the room. Abruptly, the elders, in the corner of the room, took off from their seats. Silence struck the room. His father rubbed his hand against his son’s chest to feel the bullet wounds. Meanwhile, his friend whispered to his father, “Uncle, the coffin is ready.”