Deen and AJ arrived at the mourning house a little before noon. There were forty cars parked along the street. Deen rang the doorbell.
"Salam'alaikum," said a sad eyed lady. "You must be Chinku's friends. I'm his mother."
"Salam'alaikum, aunty," they said in turn.
"I watched my baby kill himself, right before my eyes." She clutched the end of her sari. "Come."
The house smelt of death. There were sheets laid out on the marble floors and baskets of rosary beads scattered around. Leaning against the walls were silver haired ladies in white saris and aunties with children, counting prayers on the beads, sharing memories in between sobs. So many deaths one must face in a lifetime. In the living room, bathed already, wrapped in white cloth, was Chinx. Chinx's father, brothers, uncles, cousins, grandfathers, in white kurtas, stood around, stoic, mostly silent. Their grief stabbed into the emptiness in Deen's gut.
"Here," said Chinx's mother. "Chinku's friends are in here." Deen stepped into a room full of ratty-faced junkies. Khors, most of them sober, in white kurtas, downcast eyes. Rahul. Shagor. Monwar, the quiet smackie who knew a lot about religion. Asha, who was once a classical dancer but now looked like a skeleton. Farhan, the con artist. Deen knew them all from school, they were one year junior to him. English-me- dium school rich kid junkies. They partied together once in a while.
Chinx's room had red walls, a Darth Vader poster, a bam- boo lamp on the floor. On the other side of his bed were his neighbourhood friends. Bangla-medium school kids. Deen knew most of them too, all junkies. Raihan and Rubel, broth- ers from St. Josephs, played football back in the day. Fazle, aggressive, macho yabba khor. Naved, the prick.
Deen and AJ sat on cushions propped up against Chinx's closet.
"It's crazy. I can't believe this happened." Rahul pulled up a cushion next to Deen. "I hung out with him last week."
"I feel hollow," replied Deen.
"He wasn't fine," continued Rahul. "But he was doing bet- ter. He was in rehab you know. They had him on largatrine."
"No one prescribes that shit anymore," said AJ.
"It's not a cure," continued Rahul. "Blocks neural path- ways to ease withdrawals, but what about the habit? Chutiya doctor. What was Chinx going to do with his urges? The minute he got drunk he went and chased. Couldn't stop him- self, he was a khor. With blockers in his system, his body couldn't handle the smack. Fucking doctor doesn't understand addictions!"
Deen had known Chinx since primary school. He aced his classes, teachers loved him. He dated a girl named Nadia whom he adored. He always offered rides and went out of his way to accommodate his friends. He had become a recluse over the past few years, caught up in the chase. Now he was Dead. For maggots under the earth. For heaven, maybe, for hell, maybe. For an eternity of NOTHING ELSE, maybe. Bones in the graveyard. The end.
No more addas with friends, no more mornings, no more dinners, no more music, no more long drives, no more hot showers, no more tea, no more rain, no more love, no more kisses, no more sex, no more late afternoon naps, no more movies, no more parties, no more football, no more highs, no more lows, no more chasing, no more withdrawals, no more vomiting, no more stealing, no more lies. . .
Shagor interrupted, "Hey man, I'm turquing," he whispered. "Let's go to Tongi?"
Deen felt disgusted. "No man. The guy just died. I don't feel like chasing."
Deen stepped out of the room and into the verandah to catch his breath. Chinx's younger sister was sitting against the wall. She had grown up since Deen had last seen her, she had become a woman. She looked beautiful, even in her mourn- ing kamiz and sad eyes. Deen sat down next to her. "I wish I could have helped him," he said.
"You? Ya. You and all his other friends." She smiled bitterly. "How could you help? You can't even help yourselves."
Chinx's mother hurried into the veranda. Deen could hear howling sobs from the living room. "They're taking his body," she said. "Come."
Deen stepped into the living room. Chinx's cousins were carrying his body in a wooden khatia, from the living room, through the corridor, out the door, into the car, off to the graveyard and into the ground. Forever. Chinx's Last Journey.