A man who embarked on a shooting spree in what he claimed was retaliation for 9/11 has been executed at a prison in Texas. The lone survivor of Mark Stroman’s attack on convenience store workers in late 2001, Rais Bhuiyan, originally from Bangladesh, unsuccessfully sued to stop the execution … ………………………………………………………….— The Guardian, July 21, 2011
Rais Bhuiyan, what is mercy? You tried to stop the state from killing the racist meth head who shot you in the face, while I’m still mad at women who left ages ago, at friends who don’t call, even at John H. who killed himself last year. Why, Rais Bhuiyan, did he do that, and why am I rattled by things that have so little to do with me? Can mercy release me from the dread that grew out of that grade six “trust game,” when the kids, my friends, let me fall between their fingers? Don’t you, like me, stumble through such brambles and barbs each night, bloodied, into the woods of sleep? I tried to worship the streets of Tai Po, Hong Kong— where Tiina and I lived when I found your story —the mahjong tables, the towers, the lovers, then after ten minutes of limping feral cats and cruel fathers I caught myself scratching curses on a public toilet, like Raskolnikov. Rais Bhuiyan, I’m bad at mercy. Is it like sitting in the back of a taxi and the driver’s in a great mood, singing in Cantonese, catching every light? My heart is like my favorite old shirt: filthier each day and will not get clean. Is mercy a gate you squeeze past by smearing your body in shit? Is mercy an amnesiac? Ill will o’erflows the tub. Surely an opposite faction gathers in a forest, ones like you performing the maenad’s empathetic dance, a lay-down-your-guns dance for the rest of us. Rais Bhuiyan, shall I just repeat the irrational list of kindnesses my lovely mother used to speak while touching my small back, till the ill-will-shaped animals bow in the fields of birth— just as Mark Stroman, he who shotgunned you, bowed his head after his lethal injection?