Mourad stumbles through the terminal. The dazzling man wearing a golden necklace struts beside him, sticking out his round, prosperous belly out with a fruit knife sticking in and flaunting. The sun is awfully bright. Mourad tries not to look at the dazzling man but the golden necklace and the fruit knife refract the sunlight, sucking his attention. The man seems to feel Mourad’s gaze. He straightens up even more, expanding his belly into the air. The knife glistens with arrogance. “I killed this man”, the blade declares proudly.
Mourad follows the crowd, cramping into the small train station with the numb people. There is no point judging who is ill-looking, despicable, hypocritical or absurd. The man with the bright orange suit, wearing two jingling silver bracelets around each wrist look just as beautiful as the young elegant ballet dancer whose eyeballs are wobbling in the air. Who cares? We are all dead corpses. Once in a lifetime the air becomes thick and heavy around Mourad, like woolen blankets. Kapok trees grow in his stomach. Those sturdy, silky flowers take root, enriching Mourad’s hollow belly with those mild and delicate fluffs. He smiles.
I wonder if this many people die every day. How exciting. A sense of guilt rises from Mourad’s cold, pale lips.
“Where are we going?” asks the girl beside Mourad. She is also following the crowd. The wrinkles squeeze on her raisin-like face as she smiles; blue vines crawl around her thin neck. Her whole body soaked, water drips from her hair to her dress.
“Dunno. Pools of rebirthing souls, I assume,” Mourad replies.
“Lose all memories and start over as nothing,” She smirks. “Recycling the garbage.”
They walk in silence, the kapok trees seems to wither a little in Mourad’s stomach.
They hear the distant bell tolls, doing its obligation, reminding people the presence of time; they hear the sibilance of dying souls and the sound of their rebirth. The broad road diverged into two. The bell tolls and in each ring tells the citizens to choose whether lives or dies. The bell rings again, narrating people’s lives. Memories flow into Mourad’s head.
“Useless!” he hears his parents’ screams.
It was a fine day. Mourad opened the grey door, walked out of the grey house and looked at the misty sky. After that he has been living in the same moment for the past four years since then. Mourad moved to the town called “Kammilo” alone, working at a small Chinese restaurant just to pay the rent of his house. The voice of his family judges him every day.
“So, where are you from?” The girl smiles again, wrinkles fighting on her slim cheek.
Good question. “Kammilo,” Mourad replies.
“Never heard of it,” says the girl.
Mourad squints toward the far end of the sky, wanting to see it more clearly. The raisin-girl follows Mourad’s gaze. She tries to find what’s so interesting that grabs his attention but she finds nothing except the impossibly blue canvas illuminated by the bleached clouds which they called “the sky”. It bewilders her.
“What is it like?”
“Home,” says Mourad.
“Home…” the girl reflects.
The sun burns. The sky turns into a sheet of paper soaked in oil, greasy and opaque. Not so far away but so far away, reminding Mourad of where he lived before: he recalls the small and narrow alley where sun never penetrates; the stinking smell of rotten fish and garbage; barks of stray dogs reverberate in Jeremy’s ears. Ugh. Mourad frowns. The guy living next door is burning things again. He and his weird hobby have bothered Mourad since he moved into this building. The whole building fills with the horrible smell of burnt plastic. Mourad pulls out the key and slides it into the keyhole. He quickly unlocks the iron door, hearing the key clanging on the metal, the musty joints of the door creak painfully as the door itself separates from the door case. He pulls open the door just a crack, promptly slips into the house and shuts the door automatically, preventing the horrible smell from escaping into his small basement.
“Hey,” the girl calls for Mourad. He stands still on the ground, mouth half opened, dead people walking by.
Mourad opens the light. It sizzles and lightens the darkness and dusts of the narrow basement. He walks toward his bed, falls on it, and sinks.
“Hey,” the girl waves.
The sun is awfully bright. Mourad shuts his eyelids and wipes it with his fingertips. The crowd is still moving forward, extending far into the horizon.
“I miss it,” Mourad murmurs.
“I know, I do too,” says the girl, quietly.
The bell rings again. Mourad counts the times the bell tolls, twelve, and he strokes his wilting stomach.