About the Short Fiction
Set in the backdrop of sex trafficking, Zoya is a small but a darkly controversial moment in the life of a Muslim Mumbai police officer, Mr Khan. The brutally terrifying consequences that results after the horrific suicide of Zoya.
Mr. Khan is one of the two protagonists from the crime-drama thriller with supernatural undertones,

“#ifeelsafewhen… Justice is delivered NOT delayed.”
– unknown
Chai With Lakshmi

Chapter 1- Regret

The sealed cup of coffee smoked away fumes of clouds. His head almost collapsed but his
dark eyes stared firmly past the windshield. His eyes glinted visibly in the mirror. Dark
brows, squashing together. Arching against each other. With a soft sigh of elevating discomfort, he blinked some more. Inspector Mr Khan, age 46, wore a white shirt, sleeves rolled to his forearms, in khaki trousers. Stared at a sexually assaulted 23 year-old, Zoya. Her blindsless window open for everyone to see. Formation of bruises that now became a mask over her skin. Unlike a mask, they were one and the same now. No curtains could cover her naked soul, even when it were hiding inside vessel of a body. Her whaling eyes were piercing through his eyes, diving into his soul with series of muted questions. They ran through his mind like she had teleported them though an invisible mind link. Only this time, his thoughts were hers now. Those vulnerable eyes shimmered, overcome with humiliation and disgrace. Shame had been smeared all over them.
It was time for Mr Khan to step out of his vehicle. If he could come to that. She had lodged a complaint against her abuser days before it came to this. For him to remove her of her respect and grace. His heart grew heavy every second as he watched her, never averting his eyes. He couldn’t it come to. Knowing deep down, it could have been prevented, had the police taken any
actions against her attacker.
He took a deep breath, followed by a long sigh. Quickly strolled his hand over his thickset
face, pressed to clear away the tears. He made his way. It was a long stretch of walk. Far less to prepare for what could be done now. A migraine of thoughts engulfed him.
. . .
For 6 long minutes, no words passed through a wall of lips. Not a single word breached
through. What difference would it make now. It wouldn’t change anything. An open stab
wound could heal within days. No matter how deep it were. But when you were so wounded in the underbelly of your soul, it was beyond repair. Beyond change. The seed of desire had grown into a tree of shame, the instant the culprit laid his filthy intentions all over her. His fingers obeying his devilishly wishes like puppeteers. Wishing she could just disappear from the face of the earth. The worst, she were buried alive to die questioning her existence. How could she live with this? Now everyone knew of her body, left scarred with impurity. Nothing could change that. What little respect was left of her, had been crushed. Tears trickled down her wet face. Burning down every hope she had left to ashes.
. . .
Mr Khan stood at the door of his vehicle. A constellation of thoughts collected into a whole, like a huge invisible lump. A bulging migraine attempting to penetrate out through the walls of his skull. He stared down at his keys. His head collapsed under the weight of regret. Ever realized your thoughts weighed more than your actual weight? Spiritually speaking. When doubts gave birth to regret, you were collapsing against your weight of questions. You were suddenly drowning from your mistakes. Mr Khan held himself responsible for this. Only him. Could you live with that such a mistake stripped a woman of her purity? Mr Khan was mentally collapsing against moral weight of this alone. It wouldn’t come to suffocate him, he was a tough cookie. But how do you erase a mental wall completely sprayed with questions? Guilt eventually injected you, until it poisoned your heart. For the weak-hearted, it would lead to an escalating explosion. He cleared his throat, that felt heavy with protrusion, and took a slow deep breathe. Hoping the air could help ease off the tension circulating in his mind. His
6 – 1 0 head seemed heavy on his shoulders, far heavier than his whole body. Mr Khan may have possessed a brute and intimidating outer shell, but his inner silence spoke volumes. Everyone had a vulnerable spot. His was a combination of regret and hopelessness. If you stirred the two together like a bowl of herbal medicine, you were left with doubt. Doubt always tasted sour. Always nagging at you. Right now, it was nagging him to take a far more aggressive form of action. Grey cushions of clouds grew darker with harrowingly menace. The sky screamed pessimistically. Just as Mr Khan inserted his keys to unlock his car, a pang of shock surfaced at the sound of a cry screaming out distance away from him. His head steered sharply towards the direction from which the cry came from. That instant, the only action he could take was to
race towards Zoya. The sight of her about to set herself alight was jarring. You race desperately to stop it from becoming a reality. There’s no mute button. No time for mental paralysis. Your thoughts are exploding at you to prevent this horrific sight. She’d soaked herself with petrol. The fumes of it tasted sour in the air.
He ran towards her, the heels of his shoes stumping the concrete ground with each step. He never heard the sound of them slapping on the surface. Breathing over the weight of collapsing lungs. Like a car engine dying out, you’d continue to accelerate until it jumped back to motored life. A quick succession of mouthful breathes were enough to inject a cold air of oxygen. His heart pounded almost into his throat. Mr Khan torn through the air, splitting it. Without giving any thought, his hand quickly grabbed out his revolver –like it were an involuntary response – the nose pointed directly for the the door handle, and bang!. The echo of it muted, pushed away by thoughts of Zoya’s inevitable suicide.
Mr Khan lunged hard into the door, it flung open. And that moment his incredulous eyes shone with fatality. Paused. His brows curled into a wiggle, he let out a long slow sigh. Hopelessness clouded his wavering eyes. She had set alight to herself, burning as fire erupted violently and wildly all over her. Screamed in horror as it pierced deeper layers of her ashen skin. Quickly he grabbed hold of a cloth, wrapped it around her like a blanket as she fell to the ground and withered.

Follow the Blog to read the next chapter, next Friday!

M. Aamir Naseer For Beyond Sanity Publishing

Artwork by Syeda Fatima


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