"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

Khan Baba's shop sold the most tender lamb meat in town, and he was determined to uphold that reputation. This morning, just like every other morning, he went into the backyard and surveyed his flock and there in the corner was the best pick - a frail lamb, delivered just a week back, sucking at its blankly staring and bleating mother sheep.

Baba drew a rope around the lamb's neck and dragged it away. The two separated animals shrieked. There was bleating and commotion amongst the goats; but Baba was nonchalant. He was used to the bleats anyway.
Now, Baba wasn't a careless man. On his way to the shop, he did notice the children of the neighbourhood, neatly dressed up and filing to school, with his boy also in tow. He greeted them and blew a kiss wishing them good day. And while the lamb cried and the children sang, Baba thought of the school which he himself reluctantly attended, about a decade ago. The decorated wooden seats in the classroom and the teacher's long slender steel scale were still so fresh in his memory. And the way the teacher's scale would come slashing down on him...
Once inside the shop, he put the lamb on his nicely carved wooden pedestal, pulled out his long slender steel machete and let it slide across its neck. An expert slit and the lamb's bleats were downed in gurgling blood. He dropped the twitching lamb by the side and let it dance to the musical loss of blood oozing out of its punctured throat.
As he waited for the life to ooze out, there was an explosion in the distance. Baba ran out to see flames and smoke two blocks away. It was where his kid's school was. Numb in horror as Baba ran towards the smoke he spotted Salim rushing towards him with a baby in his hand. It was Baba's child. A sharpnel from the explosion had flown right into the child's neck and slit it like a butcher's cut. The child writhed as blood oozed out. Baba grabbed the baby out of Salim's hand and ran towards his house. He had a first-aid kit at home but he didn't recall where he kept it. Maybe it was in the shop, so he ran towards the shop, all the while shouting and screaming in anguish. As he was about to reach the shop, the child went numb. It had stopped moving. Baba collapsed to the shop floor, shocked in horror, his hands and shirt wet with his own child's warm blood. And his trousers wet with the blood from the lamb, which too had just died beside him.
People gathered. There were wails. Baba sobbed uncontrollably, "Why are humans turning into demons? Why? What do you get from all this killing? Look at my child. Such a tender and innocent thing it was. It was so helpless. Just today morning I had seen it snuggled up in its mother's arms and I had felt so much love for it. How could they kill such a hapless being? Can't they see the purity of God in its eyes? Damn the terrorist. Damn these killers. May they go to hell!" and he continued his wailing and cursing..
"What is this world coming to? Poor child had to die like that. Are we human beings or animals?" exclaimed an elderly neighbour as he dragged the limp lamb's carcass out of the shop and dumped it in a gutter nearby. He then went back to the shop and sat down next to Baba, to advise him on the rites to cremate the child's body.
And while all the crying and sobbing was going on, someone whispered, "Maybe Baba did not do his animal killing as per religious diktat. Maybe he didn't do the halaal properly. Else why would God punish him this way?"
In the backyard there was a slight commotion. It was the goats, trying to get away from a mother sheep which had been bleating coarsely and sorely since morning.
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