Samira's Story Part 2

Posted by Zubier Abdullah on 18-02-2020

Originally publlished on

Second Cigarette

It’s been a good ten minutes. I had to stop writing because my wrist was hurting and put some ice on it. Head still feels slightly dizzy but I am unsure whether it is the insomnia, the stress or the pills working. I’ve spent the last ten minutes wondering if I have taken enough pills – the usual dosage is something around 50 mg but I’ve taken closer to six hundred. That should be enough right?

Part of me, the world weary part, just wants this to be over. What’s next? I hope nothing – nothing but the sweet embrace of oblivion to tide me over. If there something, I hope that it is reincarnation. That would be a better alternative than any hell or Gehenna devised by the failings of a cruel God. Isn’t it absurd that, in most major religions, if you kill yourself for whatever reason, you get sent to hell? The irony is that to escape hell, you guarantee it for yourself.

But I digress.

Lamisa and I started with the cigarettes but after that we branched out. There wasn’t anything we didn’t do. We became the terrors amongst the girls there. We would steal sometimes and if anyone of them would say anything against us to any of the teachers, we would get violent. I remember this one time, Lamisa beat a girl in the girl’s washroom, hard enough that she had to go to the hospital for a few days. We didn’t beat her face though – that would be foolish. Rather we hit her stomach and her back hard enough that she wouldn’t forget it.

Lamisa did most of the physical stuff – she wanted things from the other girls, information, secrets, and gifts. Like a tyrant, she wanted to rule the whole school and have things done her way and like a good little lapdog, I followed. I won’t lie – no not here, not now. I enjoyed it as well. I helped her – I was her equal. In a way, we were partners, each making up for the other’s lacking. Lamisa had her aggressiveness and her ferocity – I had my calmness and ability to think rationally about these things Lamisa was the accelerator and I was the brake. Together, we were greater than the sum of our parts and that made us abominable.

I am ashamed of what we did in those years. While I was not the one who did the actual hurting,I helped and, forgive me, I enjoyed it. The sick sense of power, the thrill of cruelty – they were fun and it is that secret that many people don’t want to admit – that in each of us , there is a part which seeks to hurt, to dominate, to subjugate and control and when that darkness is brought out into the light, it always makes excuses for itself.

If any of you reading this are any of the girls that I knew back then, let me apologize and I hope you feel vindicated. You won. This is a suicide note after all. The next year, when we were in class nine, my father died. He died crossing the road on the way home from work. It was the kind of accident which was no one’s fault and which your assorted family members attribute to it just being his time and that it was His Will. That’s a nice sentiment but it rang hollow to me – a poor consolation to the devastation his death had brought to my heart. It was my fault – it had to be. My soul was disquiet over thoughts of what we had been doing, Lamisa and I, and I knew in my heart that it was because of me that he was gone. I was at home, doing my homework for a change, when my mother came into the room. The mascara on her face ran down in twin streaks; her face gaunt – she looked as though she had aged ten years since I last saw her in the morning.

The next few weeks or maybe months, my world was in tatters. Everything I did felt mechanical – there was no pleasure to be had in anything or anyone. I stopped talking properly, only answering in nods and grunts. The whole world had become muted , devoid of color and of life. My thoughts kept spiraling inward on themselves, each moment, each instance of my life passing reminded me of my father and of his hope in me and of how I had let him down. I had done wrong –

I had made mistakes and due to that, he had to pay the price.

After the initial tumult, my life seemed to run on autopilot. My days consisted of going to school and coming back home; Lamisa and I would have our regular cigarettes at the field and watch the guys play. I retreated into myself so much that even joining Lamisa on her other ministrations had lost their enjoyment.

It was a month or two after that, after Lamisa and I had just given our final exams for the year that my mother came up to me. She had changed a lot as well and, on that day, I finally took a good look at her after a long time. There were streaks of grey in her hair and her previously unlined face was anything but that. Her eyes looked as though, she was gazing at something a long way behind you when she talked.

“Listen Samira. We need to talk.”

“What is it?”

“It’s about us – about what we are going to do now that your father is gone.”

“What do you mean?” I said, somehow dreading the answer.

“Well, your father earned most of the money for us and after he died, I have been having difficulty keeping us afloat.”

I said nothing.

“It means that we are going to have to sell the house and move. I have already talked with your Uncle Taleb and we are going to move in with him. Is that all right?” That question hung in the air – was it all right? No, mother it wasn’t. Even though we had only lived there for a year or two, that house had become home to me. It was home and a home was where memories were made and had taken up root. Each room held its fair share of guests – the living room, where my father had once let me put on his tie for him. I completely fucked it up – it looked as though he had just gotten into a fight but he humored me and went out looking like that. In the dining room, he would ask me how my day went and how school was going and the other small notes of banal concern. My bedroom, a quaint turquoise enclave of safety, where I last caught a glimpse of him. I saw him with one eye, reflected back in the mirror, hovering over me, a smile on his face. The day he died.

I stormed off, leaving my mother standing there. I walked down the lonely boulevards of Uttara, moving without direction. My mother was following me – I could see our car in the periphery of my vision.

On my left was the highway – the Dhaka Aricha highway, which was always bustling with trucks bringing food into the city. All it once, it felt as though all of the things which I had taken for granted were gone now and that I was being forced into a life which I didn’t want and wasn’t ready for. For one wild moment, I wanted to run across the street but I stopped myself. Eventually, I tired – my feet swollen in their white Bata confines, the sweat running profusely down my face, mixing with the dust to create small trails like zebra stripes. She came again, in her timid way – moving as quietly and as carefully as a small rabbit.

“I know you are upset but these past few months have been difficult for me also. I miss your father more and more every day and now that he is dead, we can’t afford to keep living the way we are.”

“So we are moving?”


We moved after that, leaving my childhood home in Gulshan to my uncle’s house in Dhanmondi. My uncle was a single man in his late thirties, with a hook nose and oily cheeks. His hair was thinning, leaving him with a bald spot as round and as shiny as a brand new coin. He was immaculately perfumed as well, as though he had, at some point in his life, decided that he would never bear the smell of his own sweat ever again. I can still smell him – roses and strawberries mixed with an alcoholic undercurrent.

When I wake up in the middle of the night, escaping from my dreams, his scent lingers.

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