The Story of a Strange Guilt

Greater Kashmir

The burden of the ineffable guilt had abruptly lifted itself last night

Through the misty air of November 2013, Arshad’s pace was brisk but vaguely nervous. On his young face hung a demurring air. As he inched closer to the university campus, a certain thought which had been nagging at him, agitated abruptly. ‘Me kya waati, bu kyazi hevaan bael tensiona’ (he is not my relative, so why should I bother unnecessarily!), he tried to appease his wary heart. 

As he entered the university, his friends greeted him, exchanged laughs and went into their usual bantering. He responded to them but that certain thought refused to leave his mind, and because it was an intense thought, he kept probing the faces of his friends and teachers for the hint of sneer, mocking or a relevant jibe. Right from the last night he had expected such a thing from his friends and teachers, but all behaved as usual and even after the day finished at the campus nobody said anything of the kind he feared might come his way. 

He went home and felt his misgivings were after all ill-founded. For the next two days, he went to the university with the same nagging thought, but returned with its faint self. His concerns were proving misplaced and needless.  

Then one day a friend sent him a message: ‘The he is actually not an original peer, his real name is Mushtaq Ahmad …..’

A pinkest colour pulled to Arshad’s face and he cavorted and jumped about the room. His face excited in wreath of smiles, just bequeathed. He kissed the screen of his phone leaving an outline of his lips on it. 

Within the next ten minutes many Facebook status updates started to read uncannily similar:

‘Thank God! Thankkk God! I had a feeling…chairman is not a real peer, yipeeee!!!!’

‘After all truth is revealed, disgraced chairman is not an original peer’

‘Alhamdulillah! Mushtaq Peer turned out to be Mushtaq Ahmad something else, not peer…now I can sleep well!.’ 

‘Braeking news confrmd news 4m crdible sourcess: mustaq Peer, de bope chaimann actualy nt peer. tension hogaya tha mom kasam’.   

Next day when Arshad walked to the university his heart felt fresh and peppy. The burden of the ineffable guilt had abruptly lifted itself last night, and he looked forward to face anybody with pride and honour which he had thought was momentarily lost in the hottest news of the town: Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, the former chairman of BOPEE involved in a multi-million CET paper leakage scam.  

Arshad walked through the cold echoing corridor of the department. Majid, his close friend and classmate, greeted him with a vague smile and said: ‘Peer Soab, your image is redeemed, after all’. Allowing a little time to settle Majid added with a faked brooding expression, ‘But see poor us! Unlike you, we are forever condemned as fallible’.  

Muhammad Tahir is a current research scholar of Politics and International Relations at Dublin City University, Ireland.