Zakir Aatish Khan’s short story is about an agnostic, a man submerged in existential dread, whose crux of existence somehow gets entwined with his father’s tattered copy of Holy book.
Fear is lurking beneath my audacity by which I disregard God. It took root within me the day I saw my father’s copy of the Quran in tatters. It was an accident, a plain and simple sequence of micro-events that led to its gruesome end. The termites that had been thriving between the verses, I envied them. I still do. I considered letting them thrive for couples of more generations. But to my disappointment, it was a disaster. I’d reconsider extending its life over my shelf if it had shot showers of confetti every now and again; such that the flying bits of verses could land randomly across my room, my shoulders, and head, lips. But I was annoyed after a few days as it lay there dormant and shed bits merely about itself as if an old cow was sleeping with an upset stomach. I will be held accountable for such a misdemeanor, I know, and I’m sorry. Sorry that I couldn’t help being. I really know all the details of the consequences to befall me in the hereafter. But what do I do with such exquisite details of mere chances? I can’t bring myself to design my days with divine precautions. My audacity is firm, and so is God’s self-evasion. Chance, in fact, has brought me to assume the universe as God’s home where I’ve barged in uninvited.