‘May Allah Grant You Lynching’: A Short Fiction By Asghar Wajahat
(This is a short fiction originally published in Hindi by Syed Asghar Wajahat, and has been translated to English by Rakhshanda Jalil. This views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
When the old woman was told that her grandson, Salim, had been lynched, she couldn’t quite understand it. There was no expression on her dark, wizened face or in her old, misty eyes. She covered her head with a tattered cloth.
The word ‘lynching’ was new to her. But she could guess that it was an English word. She had heard other English words earlier too, and she knew what they meant. The first English word she had heard was ‘pass’ when Salim had passed the first grade at school. So she knew what ‘pass’ meant.
The second word she had heard was ‘job’. She understood that ‘job’ meant getting employed. The third English word she had heard was ‘salary’. She knew what that meant, too. The moment she would hear ‘salary’, the scent of a roti being freshly cooked on a griddle, would waft into her nostrils.
The old woman spoke in contentment, “May Allah bless them!”
The boys looked at her in disbelief. They were wondering whether they should tell her the meaning of ‘lynching’, or not. But they did not have the strength to tell the old woman exactly what ‘lynching’ was.
The old woman thought that she ought to bless the boys who had brought such ‘good news’ to her. She thus said, “My children, may Allah grant lynching for all of you... Wait, let me get something sweet for you to eat.”
(Syed Asghar Wajahat, popularly known as Asghar Wajahat, is a noted Hindi scholar, fiction writer, novelist, playwright, an independent documentary filmmaker and a television scriptwriter, who is most known for his work, 'Saat Aasmaan' and his acclaimed play, 'Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, O Jamyai Nai'.)
(Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, translator and literary historian. She runs Hindustani Awaaz, an organisation devoted to the popularisation of Urdu literature. She tweets at @RakhshandaJalil.)