Of cycles of hate and feet on the pedals..

Feb 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest, Pakistan, World

A life packed away in a few cardboard boxes. The bare room started back coldly. It looked alien already.

“Mom”

A small voice called. She turned to the silhouette in the doorway and wiped the tears, trying to make the motion as inconspicuous as possible but it was too late. The tender 6 year old frame ran in to her arms.

“It’s going to be alright mom”

Her comment lingered on, magnified as the conviction behind them filled the emptiness of the room. Rebecca responded by tightening her arms around the small frame that didn’t seem as dainty as she did a while ago.

“Yes Honey. It will be. Sure it will be”

She stood up and wiped the tears. This time there was no effort to hide them. A car honked outside and she stooped down to pick up Angela, who clasped her hands behind her neck almost as a reflex. Over the next few hours they loaded the cardboards that their worldly possessions seem to have disappeared in to in an old Hyundai that had obviously seen better days. Its owner wrestled one last box in to the trunk and managed to wrestle it closed.

“There now. I’m not that old after all … am I?”

She said trying to stoop down as much as her octogenarian frame would allow as Angela smiled back. For a moment Rebecca focused on Becky’s radiant smile and wondered about its genuineness. She had lost her only son in Afghanistan 3 months ago. The funeral had been a fortnight later. The IED had exploded right under the armoured vehicle almost ripping it in to two. The military repatriated whatever remains they could find. The entire town seemed to have shown at the funeral. Becky had cried in private but refused to mourn her son in public. He had died bringing freedom, democracy and liberation. She had recorded the speech delivered by President Bush on September 20th 2001 and played it many a times:

“Americans are asking “Why do they hate us? ….

They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.”

She had outgrown the fondness of it over the last few years. She also could not reconcile Bush’s words about Egypt with the Arab spring. The people of Egypt had thrown out their government. The week Hosni Mubarak’s government finally caved in, Beck drove down to the nearest Walmart to finally get a world map. She remembered being struck by how far Egypt and Afghanistan had seemed. She wondered: “How many mad men are running out there to leave the world so vulnerable? Why didn’t the Iraqis do the same with Saddam?

The following week she wrote the last letter to Andy telling him how proud she was of him. He never got to read it. For now the three occupants in the old Hyundai pulled up in front of a small house. The need for repairs was obvious.

“Sorry about the mess. I was hoping Andy would …..”

She stopped midsentence. Rebecca rubbed her hands on her back as she recomposed herself. Over the next hours the three generation of ladies moved pulled, dragged and carried things of immediate need. There used to be an abundance of well natured young men willing to help out in this town of 2000 or so. 90% had signed up for the military in recent years and many were deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many had been motivated by patriotism and the willingness to spread the good that they enjoyed within the borders of this great country of theirs. Yet more saw it as a means of a better future. The promise of a college education eclipsed the danger in the odds.

Meanwhile in Karachi,

Zaman woke up with a start. It took him a while to figure out that he was no longer in North Waziristan. The rain pouring fast and heavy on the tin roof of the cramped one bedroom home sounded like the explosion that awful day. He shuffled through the thin sheet in a frenzy to reassure himself. 6 year old Amina was still there, curled up in a ball. The rain had left the floor colder. He lent her his bedsheet and doubled it on her. He was shivering but not all from the cold. His heart was beating so fast, he worried about waking her up. He tried to block it out but couldn’t.

He was shaking uncontrollably now. He slipped outside the room where a clay pot lay in the corner and poured him a glass of water, struggling to keep his hands steady. The drone attack that day had wiped out his son and wife along with 45 other people from the village. Their remains were never found. A few hours later 20 more people perished in an attack on those trying to rescue any survivors, Zaman had spent the next four months recovering in a hospital in Peshawar. He lost his left eye, walked with a limp and had irretrievable shrapnel to blame for constant agonizing pain that he had no money to buy pain medications for. His doctors had told him he was lucky.

Amina on the other hand had not been that lucky. She had lost both her legs in below the knee amputations. A local NGO had found some ill-fitting prosthesis for her.

Zaman remembered as his wife had proudly beckoned him in to the house to show how Amina had started walking at only 8 months of age. It would take her exactly 8 months since the drone attack to take her first strides with crutches. Zaman was grateful to have her. He went back to the door and peaked inside. She seemed more comfortable now. It had stopped raining.

“Alhamdulillah …”

She was his strength. His uncle, Waleed Khan, who had been by his side in Peshawar throughout their recovery, was an old man now. A labourer in Karachi, he was by no means a man with many resources. Mostly, he would spend the day on a footpath near a busy shopping centre in Karachi, praying that one of the many millions of rupee worth cars would stop and ask him to come by for repairs in their house or a contractor would offer a project. He frequented the nearby mosque and prayed for Amina often. He did not quite understand why his once peaceful village had seen so much bloodshed recently or what technology was pitted against those very modest homes of his loved ones. He just knew that his dreams and the lives of his loved ones were bartered away by a handful of people so shameless and greedy that he paused recently when Amina asked him if we can see Satan. He could have sworn he had. Later, that night he watched in disbelief as former President Musharraf between some nervous laughs admitted that he had written in his book that he handed over a 6 month old baby as a terrorist.

He fought back tears and just looked upwards towards the sky. Later that night he made Wudu (Ablution) and began to read:

“And indeed We have created man, and We know what his ownself whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein” Sura #50, Verse 16

Around the same alignment of the stars, moons, planets and everything else in this universe Becky found herself getting sad watching Angela run around the house. It reminded her of the time Andy had been young. He had practically spent all his childhood in the same house. She opened the bible and began to read:

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” – Psalms 34:18

In the background she could vaguely make out someone on TV talking about a clash of civilizations..

 

 

Ahmed Javed

About the author

Ahmed Javed is a Psychiatrist working in the US. He is a “legal alien”, has a valid visa and often wonders if one can reciprocate kindness with the insincerity of not challenging half-truths that hurts all and if one really needs a blue passport to really belong to teachers, friends and colleagues.

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4 comments
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  1. Zabardast!

  2. Such a shameful thing this whole state of affair is! The two groups at war…the ones who are fighting and other, the poor civilians of nation under attack…both do not even know who the real enemy is! The youth of western countries fooled into false patriotism and hope for a bright future are trapped into this shameful situation whereas the civilians under attack do not even know what their fault is.
    Oh poor and innocently stupid people, its time to open your eyes and get out of this ignorant slumber and focus on what is happening around.The true enemies ought to be recognized.The shameless few on both the sides the responsible warmongers!
    We the common people of any race or religion, cast or creed, culture or custom have nothing to do with this hate or terror. We all are humans, we all are children of same father and mother, Adam AS and Eve AS. We should not allow those psychopaths to ruin this beautiful world of ours with their satanic inclinations.
    Beautifully written.Bravo Ahmed.

  3. MashAllah, a very well written and thought provoking article Ahmed. May Allah protect you from Evil. Aameen

  4. Your analysis is quite good.Allah give you more power of the pen.

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