The sun burns bright today. Electric-yellow rays scorch the earth, even at this early hour. The blue sky is empty of clouds. The only thing visible is the heat shimmering on the horizon. Today is a day when a sensible man would stay inside. Cool, collected, protected from danger. But I am not a sensible man, and the sun is not the only thing I fear.
Once upon a time, when the Arabian Nights were real, and not just stories to soothe me to sleep, too much sunlight was the only thing that frightened me into the dark. That was in the days before Our Enemies came. Infidels from East and West with their bomb-filled aeroplanes dropping death and destruction. At first we were able to spot the warning signs. The drone of engines, the glint of steel, the trail of smoke were enough to alert us to run for cover. If Allah was kind, the wind was fair, and we were slight of foot, we’d escape the blasts that ripped our communities apart.
But Our Enemies are clever and their tricks became ever more devilish. Soon we discovered the Russian Roulette of the yellow packages. Glinting, gold bars, dropping from the sky into the welcoming arms of juniper bushes. What treasures would they reveal? One day, a gift of sugar and flour, enough to feed a family for a month; the next a curse of metal shrapnel, enough to fill a child for life.
Was it any surprise, I grew up to curse Our Enemies, East and West? Between them, they robbed me of my Grandfather, Mother, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins. For a while I cursed Allah too, blaming him for my losses, till Mullah Ahmed showed me the error of my ways. It was through him, that I learn that God had made me suffer in order to prepare me for the fight. That the violence I had endured had a purpose. I must beat the Infidel as they had beaten me. Teach my countrymen to burn them as they burnt us. Destroy them as they destroyed us.
I preached this message, and as the Mullah predicted the people followed. For a while, I was blessed with Allah’s beneficence, I prospered, married well and fathered children. In Allah’s name I smote my Enemies, and brought destruction to their Citadels. And truly, I had no fear, until…the worst fear of all overcame me. The soundless, sightless attack. At any time, in any place, the bomb falling from the pitiless sky.
And now, the Enemy is mine alone. I am on their list – a Wild West villain beyond the democracy they pretend to believe in. My Father appeals to their courts of law in vain. I am only safe if I put myself into their lion’s den, allowing myself to be transported to Guantanomo or some other sightless hell. I will not submit, I cannot. Yet my refusal condemns me to this – a life in perpetual motion attempting to out run a killer I can never see. Inside or out, I can never be safe, for the remainder of my days.
It is months since I have seen my family. Proximity to me places them in the gravest danger. One brief visit, and I would be their executioner.So I move from day to day, hoping to survive another day underneath the radar. Hoping my good deeds will be sufficient for Allah to preserve my life for another day.
The sun beats down as I leave the house. The horizon melts into the distance of possible escapes. Above me the blue sky is devoid of life. When the moment comes I know it will show me no pity. A sensible man would disguise himself and be smuggled across the border to freedom.And yet, I cannot leave the country of my birth, and so each day I wake, I pray, I run. Hoping, insh’Allah, that by the day’s end I will reach safety.
The sky above is devoid of life. When the moment comes, it will show no pity.