BISMILLAHIR RAHMAANIR RAHEEM
Qaala RasulALLAH SAW – Bada Al-Islamu ghariban Wa sa ya-‘udhu ghariban kama bada`aa
Fa tooba lil ghuraba (rawaahu Muslim)
Rasul ALLAH SAW said; Certainly, Islam began as something strange (in the eyes of people). And it will return to being strange just as it began. So glad tidings for the ‘strangers’!”
As I held my comforting mug of chai, a habit I picked up on my travels in the east, the shrill ring of the phone broke my peaceful, admiring gaze of the post dawn mist that cloaked the valley in white robes of whimsy. I savoured this personal recharge time. I remember my walks in the early mornings in Paghman with my dearest friend Umair after he prayed Fajr,the pre-dawn prayer.He was the one who taught me that the most productive people are the ones who didn’t dive back into bed after they prayed so early.
I turned to the annoying ring that disturbed me, leaving my thoughts of Umair behind on the balcony. As I often had to… otherwise it became too much for these old shoulders to carry now.
“Uncle Vic,it’s Alex.I’ve got bad news…You better sit. Sulaiman was traced by me And Them, he was in a training camp apparently over There…and he and two of his comrades were captured…”
I had confided in Alex a few weeks earlier, about my fears when Sulaiman,Umair’s son, who had latched onto me,suddenly dissapeared.
“Are they alive?Imprisoned?What?” I asked, stunned, grieved, all at once. I lost my best friend to a fate worse than death,I couldn’t lose his son to the same fate. Not when I felt that I could do for him what his father always wished for but couldn’t.
I cradled the phone in my trembling hands long after the call was cut. I was musing over what motivated Sulaiman to go for Jihad,what Truly was his motive? Did he manage what no one else did and pulled the wool over my eyes& turn out to be in Their camp?or was he truly inspired to do the right thing no matter what the cost,like his father? I remembered his obsession with my journal,which I eventually gave him as a present as a thread to his father. I recalled the gratitude shining in his eyes when I placed it in his hands. Suddenly it clicked, he used to keep saying stories shape and change us and none more than mine…I hurried to my laptop and booted it. Perhaps I would find a clue there? In my story. For my story,now, was his story.
I opened to the digital version of the writings I had scribbled over many years, I tried to push aside the thoughts of Zane’s smirking eyes as he told me not to remain a dinosaur and to “get with it Uncle Vic maaan.”and then kindly helped me to edit and type it all out. Typed out the proof of my quest for truth and justice . My gaze fell on the first entry….
JANUARY 17 2001. SAVANNAH.AMERICA
The air was was crisp outside as the last bites of winter wound down. Inside my regular coffee shop, it was hot and moist with the smell of freshly roasted beans. I loved it.
I was minding my own business,gazing lovingly at my cuppa, when my gaze wandered outside. There were two men in dark suits that were trying too hard not to be noticed. My danger radar kicked into high gear. They were on my trail again after 5 years. I needed to get out of here and fast. “Chang.” I called my favourite waiter, a humble Chinese immigrant. “Can I have my bill please?” They were inching towards the door. I shoved a note in the waiter’s hand.
“But Victor, this is feefty dollars? You owe just 10!” Chang shouted after me.
“Dont worry, keep the change. Can you show me the back door through the kitchen?” I got up fast.
“No probleem no probleem, thank you for big tip, God bless you, God bless AmeriKah!” Chang whispered fervently.
I hit the ground running. America… the land of the hunted. I was far out of the restaurant when I heard footsteps behind me. My chest squeezed in fear.
“Victor!! Dr..r..rop your gun please! I only came to give you wallet, you dropped it,two men came in and took something from it and threw wallet on floor” It was Chang, paling at the metal cocked in my steady hand.
“ Oh God! What did they take let me see, license is here, change here…no! Oh no! They took Carl’s picture! They’re going to do what they promised!” I gasped as if someone had ripped my chest with a rusty blade.
“Sir are you okay?? Who is Carl?” I heard Chang ask faintly as if far away , past the red cloud of my pain… “Is he your son?”
3 MONTHS LATER.CALIFORNIA
“Answer the damn phone someone. ”Zane yelled from under his pile of dirty clothes,scattered over his bed. He wondered where his clothes ended and duvet started…
“ Hello?” Nadia snapped up the phone, annoyed at being disturbed from her favourite movie,which she had watched at least 6 times excluding that one time when she caught it on a flight. “Hi, Nadia? It’s Carl here. Where’s your brother? I’m waiting for the past 45 minutes for him to pick me up!”
“Oh hey Carl,He’s still in bed, hold on a sec. ZAAAAAAAAAAAANE! Carl is on the phone, he said he’s waiting for you!”
“Oh crap! I forgot today’s my turn for lift duty, tell Carl give me ten minutes.” Zain hollered back but not making the slightest move to leave his comfortable bed.
“Zane! Get out of bed man!” Nadia stood with her hands on her hips glaring at her older sibling. Although she was younger, she sometimes seemed older in her approach to life.
“Go away Nads, I thought you’d give yourself up for adoption by now, can’t you do that favour for me?” “Ha Ha, so funny, you better get up fast or Grandma will be here and you know what will happen, preacher alert, do you have any gum in your cupboard? I need it for later today, we’re having cheerleading trails. Can’t risk hog breath” Nadia said, raising an eyebrow at Zane,turning away to rummage in his drawer. “I don’t need no direction, I’m just passing through, you’ll be the devils friend, when I’m done with you .”She sang as she searched.
There was a slight shadow at the door that neither Zane nor Nadia noticed.
To be continued…