The judge, his wife and the spade…
It was sunny all day. Now, the clouds are gathering, for rain or for thunderstorm, it’s hard to tell. The weather is always erratic in this little town of Bhijori. Erratic and intense.
Idrees is standing in his outhouse, his glance and thoughts flicking between the clouds, the words of the neighbouring teenage boys, his backyard, his anger, the rusty spade and mattock before him. Decisions and feelings all muddled together.
He is sweaty, and stiff like a stone except for his right hand. He is rubbing his fingers against the palm, slowly and firmly. Absorbing the movement, concentrating on the rhythm, calming him a little, a plan emerging. His breath is less furious. The brewing silence muffled his thoughts, plan and rage. He tells himself he will take the decision in the moment as he does with his verdicts for complicated cases whose arguements and counter arguments overwhelm him. He is still, he is blank… he closed his eyes.
Inayat is waiting for Idrees to return from work, as she does everyday. She married him 16 years ago. She loved him. And as good wives do took care of his every need and wish. She made sure everything was to his liking.
She was watching over their 2 daughters, 14 year old Ehlam and 12 year old Ehtesham doing school work. He loved his family too, she was sure of it. So she didn’t take his incessant questioning about her daily activities to her heart. She forgave him when he scolded her or her daughters for talking to any male. She made sure she never interacted with a man. She asked her neighbour, Saba, to let the milk man drop her milk with her. She taught her daughters to forgive their father. She sent them to an all-girls school.
She looks at her cup of tea and wonders what if she hadn’t fallen in love with him. What if it was an arranged marriage. Would he be less doubtful of her character? Less suspicious? She would never cheat and she never understood why he worried about it so much. She imagined all the glasses that Idrees had broken over years, coming together, becoming whole.
The sound of heavy and hurried footfalls crushing gravel came to her. She saw her husband dash into the outhouse. She immediately put milk and water in a pot and plonked it on the stove. She heard the soft sounds of things shuffling and falling down. She had long ago made peace with the unpredictability and now saw patterns in it. This seemed like a bad case or an annoying colleague.
She heard for scuttling, imagining Idrees pacing the room and coming out for some tea in a minute or two. But she heard silence. It chilled her. She hurriedly added tea and sugar. She called out the girls to go in their room.
Just as he listened to the first raindrop fall on the tin roof like a pebble, the words started to ring in his mind again.
Yeah, the daughter too. Anyone you want. Go to the house in the afternoon.
The judge? He knows?
Hah! Of Course not.
He grabs the pistol. Holds it tightly while he lets his thoughts rush to the front of his mind, making them distinct, letting them become a guiding force. He hates those boys. He hates his wife. His daughters… he says to himself, “The verdict is fair. This is justice”… and shuts the door to the outhouse behind him.