Last night this disco track reminded me of you, Professor Gill.
The night you were shot in the face came back and played like a sick gory clip in my head. I remember I was on the edge of the bed, listening to Abbas, too shocked, too wounded to cry. Each word was like a bullet against my temple. And I only cried when I saw you in your coffin in the church. You looked like an angel. Two holes on your face. One in your forehead, the other in the side of your nose.
Every day has been a bullet in my heart with your disco beats playing behind. I remember you turning the corner of the corridor and laughing happily, saying, “Well now, good morning, Soldier Mehreen! Let’s get that frown off that lovely face, shall we?” And turning the corner again only to brighten another student’s life.
What were you? A wonderful gentleman with all the moves, an entertaining professor with an answer to almost every question, a great father who adopted a son and loved and brought him up like your own blood, a compassionate activist, a good lookin’ man who loved disco lights and good beats.
And so, when the track played, everything seemed like the day you told me about retro beats and disco lights in the United Kingdom. The days you were a young, handsome Christian student studying in Cambridge. The lights, the music and the girls, you said while chuckling, were like heaven. And it made me laugh. And you told me to hold that smile forever because life’s too short to spend it frowning.
You knew you were leaving.
So the track played and I stood up. I grabbed a glass bottle and held it while dancing slowly under flickering lights cast from a heaven that snatched everything precious to me. A girl in a plaid skirt with bleeding knees, hands in the air, dancing with tears rolling down her cheeks. And I think I saw you in the crowd dancing happily with your wife and your handsome son taking pictures.
And I danced and danced till my knees bled down to my white heels. And I threw my head back, crying while dancing, the beat taking me over and spun me round. And the lights got brighter. Piercing my iris like the bullet in your forehead. And I felt you slippin’ away from the crowd. Laughing and doing that little dance of yours.
And I thought while crying and dancing, the only way I could repay you for your kindness and generous guidance is to dance under the lights, smile at fate and take life with all its shit like the soldier you called me to be. I’m not giving up. You’re still here. And I need you to tell me to watch my step while dancing. The way you did when you were alive. I won’t ever stop loving and respecting you, Sir. I’m sure you can hear me in heaven. This track is so fun, right?