An Indelible Sin

Marwa Kazi Mohammed

I’m not entirely sure about this, but my heart sinks as I stare at the blood I just coughed up seconds ago. 

…………………………………………………..

I’ve been sitting here at the Bijoy Shoroni signal, in this unreasonably crowded bus, trying to get to Banani from Farmgate, for what I think is at least an hour in human time. I’m not sure, I haven’t checked. But I’m pretty sure that I am going to be disastrously late today. I hate it, the traffic, the people, the bus, the job, all of it. Partly because it’s trashy in its own right, but mostly because I was never supposed to be a part of any of it. 

My mother’s great grandmother was the first of our kind in our family, a witch I mean. The witch line began with her and reached all the way to my mother, never missing any daughters along the way. My mother married my father, who was a witch as well and they brought me, Chondra Joyeeta, into this world in the year 1996.

And the witch line didn’t pass me either, neither did it pass my younger brother. We were a small happy witch family. I and my brother both went to the same witch school our parents went to. I was 17 and in the 3rd year of my witchcraft education, when one day the counsel of witchcraft suddenly decided to terminate the practice of witchcraft forever. I don’t really know why, none of the younger witches do. I suspect my mother, who is a revered witch in the community with a very high ranking, doesn’t know either. She only says whatever the counsel says, we must abide. 

And so we transitioned to our human lives, human education, human systems, and of course human trash as well. It’s been 7 years and it’s no less painstakingly difficult than it was on day 1. 

A sweaty, smelly middle aged man walks past me towards the bus gate, and of course, brushes the small of my back as he goes. If I was a witch now, he would have dissolved right here right now with a snap of my fingers. But yeah, I’m not a witch and I will never be. Like I said, painstakingly difficult. 

I am not as disastrously late as I thought I would be, about 20 minutes. But that isn’t going to stop my boss from showing me his signature side-eye when I sit at my desk. I didn’t even get his coffee. Crap.

I wish there was another way to my desk, but like the rest of my life, unfortunately, my room has to be accessed by entering his room. Which makes sense, I mean, to have your personal assistant’s room adjacent to yours. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be mad about it. 

“Good morning, Chondra. Glad to see you’ve managed to make it,” as predicted my boss Fahim Qureshi was ready with his snide commentary, almost as if he was waiting for me.

“I’m so sorry sir, I started at my usual time but the traffic was crazy today,” I’m trying to sound as apologetic as possible. The prick doesn’t even lookup.

“Well Ms. Joyee, this is Dhaka and the traffic is always crazy. Maybe you could start earlier. Better early than late, you know?” 

“Yes, sir. Understood. Should I go get your coffee now?” 

He finally looks at me, pauses, and says, ” Thank you Chondra, but no I already got mine. And I actually got one for you too. It’s on your desk.” 

Huh. Okay then. I don’t even like coffee, but I guess that’s nice. 

The rest of the day went by as it always does, boring and underwhelming. Or in other words, as human as possible. Only during lunch, Fahim told me he had gotten a plant for his desk which is supposed to help him relax and stuff I guess. But now I have to water it and look after it. Imagine getting a plant to help yourself but having someone else look after it. Imagine being this entitled. Imagine being Fahim Qureshi. 

Fahim Qureshi is the CEO of the tech start-up I work at. Most people would say he’s nice. But most people haven’t seen him as closely as I have. His messy hair, heavily powered glasses, and rather a thin build suggest he’s just a young, harmless, nerdy techie. But in reality, he’s annoying, he takes things for granted, he has a major superiority complex and he’s a complete snob. I have been here 5 months now, and every day there are moments I want to quit. But my friend Agni(also a witch) says what I have is much better than other human jobs. As much as it pains me, I agree. Yeah, it comes with ridiculous things like taking care of his therapy plant but it also comes with a pretty great paycheck. So, yeah. 

Two weeks have passed by and I think I’m doing well with the plant. I recently moved it from his desk to the window of his room for better sunlight, and I think the plant is doing good. Feels kind of nice. I’m secretly measuring its height every other day and even the slightest growth is making me, sort of happy. I don’t know about Qureshi but this plant might be therapizing me. 

After entering the office today, the first thing I can sense is the extremely odd silence. It’s not like this every day. Huh. Who died? 

I walk past the cubicles and I can hear the very, very quiet whispers. Oh, God. What did I do? 

I push against the doors of my boss’s doors and I find him standing right in front of it. Again, as if waiting for me to arrive.

“You,” his voice is hoarse, the kind you have if you had been screaming earlier, ” You were supposed to schedule my therapy last evening.” 

Crap. Oh crap. No wait, he told me to shift it to this afternoon instead, and that’s what I did.

I remind him, softly and nicely, he does look a little taken aback. But that doesn’t stop him from yelling at me in front of the entire office, “ARE YOU NOT SUPPOSED TO REMIND ME OF THESE THINGS? WHAT AM I PAYING FOR YOU THEN? TO LOOK PRETTY AND BE LATE EVERY GODDAMN DAY? IF YOU CAN’T DO YOUR JOB THEN TAKE WHATEVER DIGNITY YOU HAVE AND JUST LEAVE MY OFFICE!” 

Wow. I’m at a loss for words, and that rarely happens to me. I can feel a flurry of tears desperately trying to stream down, despite my resistance. I want to run to my desk and not break down in front of everyone. He has already gone into his office, since he’s done humiliating me. I muster all my courage and quickly walk into my office, avoiding any eye contact with him. 

And then the tears come. Not the sad, cold kind. The angry, heated kind. The worst kind. I haven’t felt this enraged in a long while. The last time was probably when my mother didn’t give me a proper explanation as to why witchcraft was terminated forever.

I spend the rest of the day inside my room; working, processing, thinking. All through lunch too. 

After lunch, Qureshi enters my room, without any knocking. “I’m leaving for therapy. Water the plant before sunset.” 

I can’t believe his audacity. I am his personal assistant, I am not his maid. I didn’t put myself through 4 years of human education to take care of his Goddamn plant. How dare he, wow. What kind of entitled, arrogant prick is he. You’re not even supposed to water the plant in the afternoon. Oh my God, what an entitled, arrogant idiot.

I can’t contain my rage anymore. I hope he dies. I hope his stupid plant dies. Wait. I can actually do that. I shouldn’t but I can.

I remember we were taught the spell for slowly killing something. Maybe I can kill his plant? I don’t remember exactly. I have to ask Agni, maybe she does.

And she does. But turns out it’s a dark spell, to slowly kill something someone loves, only to be used when fighting dark witchcraft. 

Well, Fahim Qureshi might not be a witch, but his heart is definitely full of darkness. He deserves this. And it’s just a plant. It’ll be fine. 

And I do it. I wait for him to get back and then I mutter the spell softly under my breath, the spell that will slowly drain the life out of the nearest living thing that he loves in Fahim Qureshi’s proximity. Goodbye plant, I’m sorry you have to suffer for his crimes.

To be continued…

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