My hell on earth

Published: September 16, 2012

One door ─ they entered through one door every morning, they left through the same door every evening. There was no other option. PHOTO: REUTERS

Dust and heat scrubbed this sky of all colour. Disfigured roads and dismal buildings littered the earth beneath it; a desolate land in shades of dirt.

He looked upon the building below him. The veneer of smog and heat created the impression of a mirage, giving the factory an almost dream-like quality.

Death trap,” he whispered to himself.

Day after day, he was sent to observe, not knowing why. He never questioned, much like the people he would see filling into this building in just a few moments.

One door ─ they entered through one door every morning; they left through the same door every evening. There was no other option; all of the others were chained and padlocked.

Whether to keep profits in or miscreants out was debatable, but it was nevertheless the whim of the owners.

He always loved this time of day, before the people were swallowed up by the factory; before smiles were wiped off and drowned in the angry buzz of sewing machines.

His favourite among these people was a young girl. Every time he saw her bright eyes and sweet face, he would be instantly taken over by love for the Creator. He reached out to her and shrank back in delight ─ another heartbeat was strong within her.

Wait, what was this?

One of the older women held the hand of a little boy. Oh, this must be her grandson, the one she was bragging about with such loving pride yesterday. The supervisor had allowed the boy to stay with her while his mother was at work.

“If he makes himself useful, I might even give him a few rupees,” the supervisor remarked offhandedly.

“He might have a heart after all,” the woman muttered to her friend.

Once the last of them had walked in, the door locked shut. Another work day had begun, and it would end after long hours were proffered by those inside. In the end, the workers would leave the factory with only enough time spared to prepare for the next day.

A terrible sense of foreboding washed over the observer, pulling his attention back to the people inside. Everything seemed as it had been ─ until he heard the screams.

A wild keening came from the windows as the stench of charred flesh overwhelmed him. Angry smoke billowed, cloaking the horror in a deathly veil. Fiery tongues licked at the desperate souls trying to squeeze through the windows. Those who could escape through the bars jumped.

Did they hope to survive the fall? Or did they only hope this form of death was more merciful than the one waiting inside?

A nightmare.

Imploring screams tore through heaven and earth, beseeching for help. He heard, and yet, he did not answer, for he was still only an observer and he still did not know why he was sent here.

As he watched, ethereal light descended from above and the angel of death stood before him. He put his hands lovingly on the observer’s shoulder.

“I cannot reap this many alone, my brother, my fellow angel. That is why you were sent here.”

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Zeba Ansari

Zeba Ansari

A graduate of Bolan Medical College, Zeba has been researching and writing for various organizations and websites. She writes from the perspective of the common man and tweets as @zebansari

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Kulamarva Balakrishna

    Vienna,September 16,2012
    My dearling Zeba, you break my heart young lady.It is
    all love, nothing but love,the inflamed face of love, love
    and more love intense not compassionate.Compassion
    is forbidden,haram,haram haram.I am reminded of Ms.
    Tehmina Durani, does she live now? She had alone survived
    the total love experience. Was she an aunt by marriage
    of the fashionable Minister of Foreign Affairs?
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva BalakrishnaRecommend

  • Noman Ansari

    I like how this piece was concluded, but I don’t get these “poetic license” blogs on ET, that very quickly seem to follow real world tragedies. For the followers of the event, wasn’t the actual tragedy horrific enough to touch and shake us?

    What is the point of these fictional pieces?

    I am sure a similar piece could have been written without using a real emotions as a crutch, and it would have stood on its own as something worth reading. Just like the piece about the airplane crash, it seems really really cheap to use a real world tragedy still fresh in our minds to make a bit of fictional writing more effective.

    That’s what I think anyway. No disrespect. Recommend

  • Saleha

    a very disturbing title, frankly speaking i did not read the blog … perhaps I couldn’t… don’t you think you are a bit insensitive?Recommend

  • kanwal

    What is very worrying is that when someone wrties a stupid article tryimg to defend muhammad amir, there are more heated responses than on the ones written on this huge tragedy where hundreds burnt to death in the land of the pure. Why are we so insensitive? This is also “sectarian killing” folks. This is worse than the minority persecution. A huge majority of this country belongs to the “sect” that perished in a few hours on this day. Yet the response is so absent? Look at the magnitude of tragedy involved. We are dead as a nation i guess. That is what we are and thisis what we deserve.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Wow !!!
    Story of gross negligence by all concerned and resultant deaths but ending will be even worse because life really has no value here and justice will remain a dream. Recommend

  • Tabinda Hussain

    A great piece. Beautifully written, aesthetically representing the actual state of affairs. This and prose like this force us to think objectively to as where have we gone wrong.Recommend

  • Fawad Rehman

    Brilliant piece, very well written. Recommend

  • homepage

    Great post, Kim. I think I will use these ideas to generate some conversation on Face book as well. Blessings!Recommend