The Red Piano

  • 18 Aug - 24 Aug, 2018
  • Salaar Laghari
  • Fiction

Someone once told me that our choices define who we are. Well, if that’s the case, then I must tell you that I’m not a good person. I’m bad for making really bad choices in my life; the ones that have made me what I am today – a distressed, frustrated and regretful person.

Most people learn from their mistakes. I wish I could be one of them. They are afraid of what might happen to them again if they repeat the mistake. But I am not. I always risk the same choices and cry later on. Life is complicated; but I’m glad that I’m not the only one who is saying that.

Obsession is the worst thing that can happen to a man. But what’s worse is when you’re trying to get rid of that particular obsession. If it were easy, the ratio of suicidal people and drug addicts would have been a lot less. The colour of obsession is red.

My story is all about obsession. But not just any other obsession. My obsession was something different. Something unusual. People feel blue when they are defeated or depressed. But I feel blue after what I experienced. I hear voices knowing that they are not real. Schizophrenics experience hallucinations. I’m not one of those and yet I hear such stuff.

They ask me, are you alone? I reply, I don’t know. But I always keep telling myself that life would have been a lot easier if we could rewind time. A lot of people crave for that. I know it is useless to argue over that.

But learning from mistakes; is that talent or human nature? I mean why is it that everyone is not capable of learning from the mistakes they have committed? If nobody repeats the same mistakes that they made earlier, then our society can be an example of perfection. But that isn’t so. I know plenty of people besides me who don’t just commit mistakes but repeat them. And yet they are smiling.

Now you have to make your choice. This is the worst thing that I get to hear from myself. I have two options and one choice. Time is as usual short and the choice is big. During moments like this, instead of making a decision, I don’t select my option giving it a thought. I just do it.


It was a full moon’s night. I was standing at the balcony of an apartment. As I looked inside the apartment through the window, I saw a vacant place. No furniture at all. I asked myself why am I afraid of going inside when there’s nothing that can harm me. This is what my mind told me, “You are dangerous. You are the one who can be harmful to others.”

Wait a minute, is that right? Well as far as what has happened before, I am a danger to the society.

As I looked at the moon, I felt someone looking at me. Nobody really knows about what I did. And moon here was looking at me as if it knew my crimes.

I walked around in the balcony holding my hair. The sweat on my face made its way down my throat and then inside my shirt. I am completely wet. All I want is freedom; freedom from my own self. I want to undo my actions.

Crime is one thing but sin is worse. You may be relieved from law but your conscience does not spare you. I ask myself why. Why did I do this? Was I forced? Maybe yes, maybe no. Did I do this as means of any compensation for my right? No, not at all.

Questions are infinite but the answers are none. All I need to know right now is whether I’m capable of doing such a thing again. If yes, then a person like me has no right to live.

You must be wondering what my crime is. Well, I hate to tell you this but I’m a murderer. I have murdered someone, without any reason. A stranger died by my hands. Can I forgive myself for that?

Standing at the balcony will not resolve anything. Either I should jump off the balcony and save anyone from dying out of my hands. Or I should go back inside and see the red color again.

No, that musical instrument is just a reminder of what I am. It is not just any musical instrument but a reflection of my true image. It has made me what I am today. Yes, there’s no logic involved and no logical explanation whatsoever. Because when your story involves obsession then it doesn’t need any logic to support it.

Now my body begins to shiver. Not because of cold. But because of basic needs. Just like eating and sleeping are necessary for one to survive. Music has become my body’s need.


I was sitting at an inexpensive hotel with my right hand resting on the left hand. As I let go off my hand, it shakes. From my hand to the elbow, it shivers beyond my control. I try to stop it but I can’t. The left one also shivers but slowly. I then place my hands between my thighs and try to stop feeling them. The more I try to do so, the more my body agonises.

Now as I stand against the wall, I rest my head against my both hands at the back. They are still restless and uncontrollable. I hit them with my head incessantly but the pain keeps increasing. This uneasy desire of music is killing me every second. With such pain, every second is as long as an hour. You’d believe me if you’d been in my place.

After two hours, I stand under the shower and the cold water is the only thing that eases my pain. I want to kill myself. Then I start shivering because of cold. I sit at the bathroom’s corner and keep shivering.

Moments later, I feel desperate. My ears are desperate to hear what they had been hearing for several days. My fingers are dying to hold the musical instrument. Just touching it for once, feels enough. But things are so beyond my control that I can’t even exhale or inhale my breath.

This is the kind of night I’ve been experiencing for four days. The lights are usually off. Today, I turned the lights on. The room where I am staying does not have what I am looking for. I walk towards the bed and look at the walls. I cannot find it anywhere.

The only questions that my mind is putting up are. Where is it? Where can I find it? Can’t I just have a view of its single dot? And then I ask, why aren’t my questions being answered?

A frame hangs on the wall. I break its glass with my knuckles. My right hand begins to bleed. Oh God, now I finally feel relieved. I see blood. I see what I’ve been craving for. My thirst is gone now and I am smiling after a long time again.


Let me start from several weeks earlier. I had just landed in Karachi from Lahore. But my luggage hadn’t arrived. And they informed me that it might take more than a week. I was helpless here and couldn’t do anything about it.

I had my wallet and my cell phone only. I could easily afford a hotel room to live for several days. I, however, booked a taxi from the airport and left for my friend’s home.

I had only one friend in Karachi. He was actually expecting me to meet him. Now I needed a place to stay and only he could help me find one. But I would never stay with him no matter how bad he would insist. That’s because I am his criminal. And he does not know about it.

Raheel is a trustworthy friend of mine and our past does not really matter anymore. I’m hoping that I shall receive a warm welcome from him, but let’s see.

“Hey Amir! How are you?” he exclaims excitedly as he sees me outside his gate.

I smiled and shook hands with him. I entered his house as he asked me to. I held my forehead while entering inside as I was kind of guilty about our past. As I looked at him while he was shutting the door and locking it, I realised how innocent he was. He had no idea about whom he was supporting at the moment. When I can’t forgive myself for what I did to him then how shall he be able to? Which is why I think it’s best to leave that matter untouched.

Minutes later, we were seated together in his room. Like two friends talking and having their usual conversation. After I told him what I learned from the airport regarding my luggage, he said, “Oh, so that’s your case.”


“That’s not so good. So what’s your plan?”

“I don’t know, I’ll find a place to stay.”

“Oh, come on! Don’t say that,” Raheel said. “You don’t need to stay any place else when you can…”

“No Raheel, I can’t,” I interrupted. “I appreciate your offer, I really do but I can manage a hotel of my own.”

“Look Amir, if you’ll refuse me today then you’ll have to choose between our friendship or your pride”

“Oh, come on! It has nothing to do with my pride. I have plenty of money, I can afford a place. I don’t want to trouble you.”

“Amir don’t, please. Just don’t go there. I don’t want this conversation.”

“Okay, if you insist; then I also have a condition.”

“Okay, what is it?” Raheel asked curiously.

“I won’t stay there for more than a day.”

“What kind of a condition is that?”

“No Raheel, please try and understand. I just can’t stay longer.”

“Okay, well then stay there for

a day and I’ll convince you afterwards.”

“Let’s see.”

I was given a room and after an hour I was lying on a bed in there.

I suddenly remembered the first time my wife asked me. “How are you?”

We weren’t even married at that time. It was more than five years ago, I guess. However, I didn’t want to think about it so I changed my position and tried to think of something else. Then I remembered the face of an old man who had a heart attack.

I sat up immediately, as this was also one of the painful and horrifying memories of my past. I just held my forehead and uttered. Oh God! How can I get rid of these memories?

I stand up and walk a little. I stop by the window and look outside; the world outside seems so peaceful to me. I only wish my soul could be the same. I need something to sooth my soul.

v v v

During dinner time, Raheel and I were seated together in his room. I asked him, “Do you know any place where I can stay for a longer period of time alone? I mean a place where I can spend some time by myself.”

“Well, yes there is one but there’s an issue.”


“That place is not good. It is an apartment just like mine but it’s dangerous.”

“Dangerous?” I got curious.

“Whoever goes and stays there for a while becomes a… a killer.”

“A killer? What the hell are you saying?”

“The truth.”

I was shocked to hear what he said but I found it serious and interesting at the same time.

Then he continued, “I know those people personally, who have stayed there for a while and have become coldblooded murderers. They were once normal and innocent citizens.”

“I don’t know and I don’t think I can do anything like that. Just give me the address. I’ll stay there if it’s affordable and comfortable for my privacy.”

“So you’re saying that you’re willing to become a murderer?” Raheel asked me.

“Hey, I am a harmless person,” I replied. “I have never hurt anyone. These stories of becoming killers after living at that place, I don’t know if they’re real or made up but they can’t change my decision to live alone.”

“How about you wait for one more week and in the meantime, I search for some other place?”

“Search for some other place?”

“Yeah,” he replied instantly.

“One week? Really?”

“You can stay here in the meanwhile”

“Oh no, thank you for the offer. I appreciate it, but I need my privacy and I would like to stick with my first choice.”

“So you’re not going to stay here anymore?”

“Look, please don’t get me wrong, but I am not feeling comfortable. You know I have enochlophobia.”

Raheel was silent and looked down on the table. I wanted to apologise for my behaviour but it seemed either awkward or unconvincing, which is why I didn’t say anything.

“Alright, fine.” He spoke after a short moment of silence which actually felt like a long one. “I’ll share the number of the apartment’s owner. That’s all I can do.”

“That would be enough, really.”

He was sad but smiled courteously, and shared the owner’s number with me.