Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Trial

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Dedicated to Chester Bennington, for making us beat the darkness!

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When I first saw Samir, I couldn't see anything remarkable in him. He looked rather old, more than what his records show. He didn't greet me, and never really made an attempt to do so. It should be said that I had extreme apprehensions about him due to the nature of his case which demanded nothing but contempt. When I asked him if he was involved as said, he never denied it, and maybe never truly accepted it all the same. I remember those conversations as much as the man.

"Hi. You're Samir, right? I'm Anand. I'm your advocate for this case."

He said nothing. He never even cared to lift his face up and have eye contact.

"You see Samir, this is not that complicated a case if you can give me apt details. So you should open up, otherwise it will be difficult."

There was a deep well of darkness within his eyes, the extend of which I could not decipher. There were no tears, I believe it got dried up long before we met, or maybe even longer than I could imagine. Even with all the empathy within, I never wished to enter this man's shoes because I knew it would either choke me with remorse or weigh me down with heartache. After all Samir was here because his mother mentioned him in her suicide note. Yes, it is a difficult thing to lose your mother, perhaps even more when it is something she did to herself, and when she says it is because of you, that by itself will be enough to crush you out.

After all those meetings I remember the first thing he ever said to me, it was delivered with a genuine air of incongruity.

"Mr. Advocate... I don't think it means much to you... But I'm trying to remember how her food tasted like... It's strange, however I try to remember, I can only get the smells of her Biriyani... The taste escapes me..." He laughed for sometime, though it never occurred funny to me. He used to take time between sentences, think about something, laugh, start with it again.

These talks continued for many days more. I think it was because he had nobody to talk to and however formal my appearance may have been those days, he found a good pair of ears to hear his tales of nostalgia.

"Sir. I remember the day she taught me how to ride a bicycle... I never remembered it during the days she were alive... It dawned upon me only after she died... She would hold the handle of my bike, and would come running behind me whenever I would go fast... I thought of it as a fun thing to do back then, to make her run... I made her run... I made her run after me all her life....."

I believe the first thing which hits you after a person you know so well dies is a profound void. Something which ceases to be filled however you load yourself with other things. The void stays there unperturbed, waiting for you to fall into it and realize that life will never be the same without them. For Samir, it would have been no different. And I seriously thought that it would take the better of him, that he would live in this world of absurdity where he is left with only accidental shots of distressing memories. Memories which in his view would've added up to his mother taking that decision to end her life.

After all the talks I've had with Samir, the first time he said something to me about the case was when I invited him out for a smoke one Sunday.

"I'm not denying my involvement in the case, Advocate... I've been like a thorn in her feet, pricking into her flesh whenever she takes a step, making her bleed... I've run behind all things unnecessary in her eyes, I think it would have taken a toll on her mentally..."

"But Samir, whatever you claim to have done, I don't think it would've been enough in a normal world to do what she did. Was she suffering from any mental delusions, something which she talked to you about?"

"I don't know, sir. She always had this feeling that I'm going to harm her someday. It is funny when you think of it that way. She always thought I would kill her to steal her money or something..." He laughed and wiped away the tears which formed like clouds in a May sky. And after almost two weeks since I've known this man, I came to realize he knew how to cry.

I believe that this moment marked the beginning of our relationship, however insignificant and unimportant it would seem. Maybe for the first time I opened myself to the point of view that this person who I'm representing is as human as anyone around me. And when I knew more of him I realized that he had an attachment so deep with his mother, it was incomprehensible that she would do something so naive if not due to some grave mental situation.

It should be said that those smokes during Sunday afternoons continued weeks on. Samir found it relieving and I was understanding more about him, his insecurities, and what his Umma meant for him.

"You know something, sir? Sundays were always my favorite days. I remember we, Umma and me, used to go to this dargah to hear Qawwalis. She would dress up in the richest clothes she could find in her old attic, cover herself up with burqah and would hold my hand all along the way. There was something re-assuring about it. There was something re-assuring about Sundays. It was as if we would be back to normal soon..."

When I tried to pull him back to areas which would interest me more with the case he would spin off and say something entirely irrelevant. I remember him saying something about my name in a similar situation.

"Anand! I love your name. There is a ring to it no normal man can understand. It is as if you've had to conquer seas of despair, come out at the other end, just to shout your name to yourself. Anand! Happiness!"

"You're quite a charming speaker, Samir" I replied then, visibly blushing.

"Yes. A writer too in spare times."

"And why didn't you make it full time?"

"Umma! She never believed writing could be a worthwhile profession!"

"And so you sacrificed it?"

"Not entirely, which is why I used to find a lot of spare time!" he laughed and I joined in this time. "And her qualms, it began when she was certain I would not fall within the normal mould."

"Was she afraid you would break away from her to follow your own path? Was she holding onto you like she used to whenever you were going to that dargah?"

"I do not know, sir."

"So that had something to do with this, didn't it? Your dreams?"

"I do not know. It made her upset. But I think she always was upset about me."

Samir replied and didn't speak again. The empathetic part of myself which was moving into escapism resisted the pull, came back and filled Samir's shoes. It was only then that I realized the storm he held within his heart, the doubts, the fears. On one side his dream, on the other his mother's failing mental health. He chose neither and that by itself could've been his gravest mistake.

It didn't take me long to prove Samir's mother was a schizophrenic who had absolutely no idea about anything when she decided to end her life. The letter long held as evidence was returned to Samir. He decided not to read it anytime soon.

"Maybe someday, when I have fully recovered from all this, I'll take a look." he said.

"You have your life ahead of you, you are a free man. What do you intend to do with it?" I asked.

"I don't know. I'm sure I can't go back and change things. But I can do things a little differently from now on."

"Samir. You are a good man. After everything that happened, I still believe that."

"Maybe, sir. Maybe I am. But good and bad has very little appeal to me these days."

"Samir, please don't spoil your life."

"No. I intend to write it up someday. I think it will be better served from a perspective outside of me. And I think I know just what I should do."

"What is it?"

"I guess I'll give you a chance to narrate!"

Those were the last words I ever heard from Samir. He never called me, never dropped in on those random Sunday evenings to see how I was doing, and maybe share a smoke. He didn't respond to my letters. He never said a word of thanks. I think it will always be hard for a person to be charged with the death of his own mother, and as for Samir it would've been equally awful because in his view he was partly responsible.

As of now, I hope he does well with his life, I hope that someday he will sort things out. I hope that he would read what his Umma wrote about him, and could still look back with fondness on their relationship, however it deteriorated. I hope he finds peace. And I hope he would take up writing because as far as I know, I am not a good narrator, I hope to see how he presents me in his story!

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