It was a cold foggy evening. Winter was at its peak. Snow covered the pavements as if they were painted white. The scathing cold wind whipped across my face. Weather’s ferocity had forced almost everyone to retreat to the warmth of their houses . I was walking down the pavement, coming back after running an errand for my mother who had asked me to deliver a package to the nearby courier office. Lost in my thoughts, I walked briskly, trying to get home as soon as possible. But then, suddenly, I heard a muffled scream from a nearby alley
. A heated argument was going on among two men. I dared to take a stealthy look and the sight which met my eyes sent a shiver tingling down my spine. A young man, probably in his early-twenties, was holding a gun, pointing it at the of the other one. Tears flowed down the face of the helpless man; he was kneeling on his knees, begging for his life.
“I have a family. Please!”
The plea was followed with a silenced gunshot and the man lumped to the ground, blood gushed out of his forehead.
I was traumatised. It took me sometime to gain back control of my senses. My whole body was feeling somewhat numb. But then I heard footsteps. The sound galvanised me into action. I quickly ducked behind a trash can. The murderer came out on the street and just as was turning the corner, I caught a glimpse of his face. The sight I saw made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and tingle. It was my neighbours' son, Firoz.
I did not sleep one second that night. The pleas of the man echoed in my ears. It felt as if the man was standing right in front of me, tears trembling down his jawline like rain drops on the edge of a roof. The news had spread like wildfire. Next morning when i woke up, it was all over the news.
OFFICE CLERK MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD
It had become the talk of the town. The police were looking for any leads or witnesses, but all in vain. I knew what I had to do. There was only one way of liberating myself off the crushing burden of guild which was clawing at me from the inside. I decided to testify in the court. Even though I asked the authorities to keep my identity a secret, but somehow the witness list was leaked. Firoz was the only son of an influential politician of the country. They were not going to let go of their son so easily. That day when i came back home, I was shocked to see my mother crying. When I inquired about the reason, she simply pointed towards an envelope at the table. It was a letter sent by Firoz's family. They were trying to threaten me into silence.
The day of the hearing finally arrived. I had prepared a written testimony of the whole incident which i was going to present before the jury. As i was sitting outside the court room, waiting for the hearing to start, Firoz's father came over, followed by his armed bodyguards. He said; "Why don't you give a call to your mother at home?Ask her if everything is alright." If the words weren’t enough, the smirk on his face said it all. I leaped up from my seat and went for him but his bodyguards pushed me aside asif I was nothing. Smiling viciously, he walked away.
I was standing in the middle of the court room. The eyes of the father of the poor clerk were fixated on me, glimmering with hope. Hope that he The judge ordered me to narrate everything that i had witnessed. I dared to steal a last glance on Firoz's father. He was looking daggers at me. If looks could kill, i knew what my fate would be. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. I swallowed to ease my parched throat but still couldn't muster a single word. At last I spoke. Even i was shocked to hear those words coming out of my mouth but i had no other option. I was helpless. "I know nothing about the incident. I only claimed to be a witness in order to gain publicity." Tears trickled down the cheeks of the father's victim. Firoz was declared innocent. Pangs of guilt raised their ugly head within me. A murderer had walked free, all because of me. Because i had lacked the courage and chutzpa to say a few words which i had practiced saying a thousand times.