19. The good Captain
She had prayed through the night. For Aamir and for Rida. Until she fell asleep in the early hours of the morning. She had begged god for the salvation of her sister’s damaged soul and her own burdened heart. She dreamt of lying in Aamir’s arms.
Two days later her father sat reading one of his many news papers. Still looking for any mention of his daughter’s death. When he came across the article about the charred remains discovered in the burnt down ruins of the Postal Rest House. The body had been positively identified; the cause of death cited was suffocation.
The new man placed in charge of the army regiment was a certain Captain Shahnawaz, who had been selected by his seniors owing to the efficiency with which he had managed to cover up the sordid tale the Major had left in his wake, that some of the locals and army personnel had threatened to uncover.
Aamir was never heard from again. His car was found parked outside the cabin his wife had once occupied and he had been living in for the past few days. But he had vanished without a trace. Some speculated that he had followed his wife down into the raging river Sawaat. There was a certain romantic tragedy in this assumption that seemed to soothe aching hearts and had therefore become the most readily accepted tale. Except to Nida who cried and complained to god until her tears stopped falling.
The day they finally left the valley, it snowed.
After Shahnawaz had seen them drive off down the road that lead to Peshawar, he drove to the ashen remains of the rest house where just 3 nights ago, he had stood waiting for one man’s vengeance to be satisfied, while he discovered his own capacity for concocting evil. Where he had finally decided that whatever he had decided to do was still a lot less evil than what the man burning to death in the building in front of him had wrought. Where he had put out a cigarette just as Aamir had walked out of the rest house, surprisingly calm for someone who had just tortured a man to death. Where he had raised the gun from behind his back and shot Aamir in the head. Where the report of the gun shot had been lost in the crackle of the building burning down. Where he had dragged the lifeless body of the man who had for a night been his comrade in arms and had led him to the success he so desperately craved. The success to attain which he had unwittingly been partt to a heinous act on a woman he respected more than any he had ever met.
Why he killed Aamir, he didn’t know. Maybe it was the fear that he was the only man he couldn’t control no matter how much power he attained, maybe it was the fear that Aamir having purged the hatred for the chief instigator in his wife’s brutal rape would turn on him.
Whatever it was, the new voice of ruthless determination in his head had clearly told him that Aamir had to die.
So he had pulled the trigger, with tears in his eyes and a raging torrent of possibilities in his heart
And now he came to say a silent prayer for the soul of a man who he knew had deserved better.
But now, he was free. Free of risk and danger. Free of all contingencies. There was no one left who could drag him down.
Prayer said, remorseful tears shed; he got back into his jeep and drove away; Planning in his mind how to feed his newly discovered vices.
The tempest of vengeance sated, the maelstrom of greed unleashed.