A remote village in Aleppo, Syria
Have faith, dear. Allah will come.
These were the only words resonating through Hassan’s mind, once spoken his ears by his dear wife. The memory of his family caused emotions to well inside him, but he couldn’t even cry. There was no energy left in him even to cry.
His wife……..yes, he had a dear wife who meant the world to him………..and his two little angels. What were their names? It was pathetic.
He couldn’t even remember their names. Now lying in the attic of a destroyed and untouched inn, he cursed those masked devils to the deepest pits of Jahannam.
Where was his family now?
As he asked himself this question, he was hit by a surge of reminiscence, the memory of his darkest hour. How could he ever forget it? It was etched into his very soul.
And once again, he was forced to relive the memory of his darkest hour.
He had returned from a business trip in Konya, to find his village wrapped in deathly silence, unaware of the tragedy which had changed his hometown and would change his life forever. He found his usually bustling house completely hushed. Fearing the worst, he stepped inside.
The sight he witnessed shook him to his very core. He wished he were dead.
His house had been converted to a lake…..Of blood. The blood of his beloved. The burnt corpses of his family members were scattered around. He was numb.
He ran away, full of anger and fear. The fear of death.
Not knowing how, he had ended up in an inn. But the inn was deserted. He heard a voice at the reception and looking up, he found the television on. It was running the breaking news.
The ISIS had claimed responsibility for the bombing of his city. The masked man who called himself Baghdadi claimed his group to be Allah’s men and asserted that they were cleansing the city of its sinners.
Now Hassan knew. He had paid the price for leading the People’s Revolt against terrorism based on religion. He had made the people in his village stand up against the wrong. He was aware of the risks, but he had faith and always thought that Allah would come.
NO. NO. NO.
This was not Allah’s work.
He was compassionate and loved his men.
He would never punish his children in this way.
His eyes flew open. His whole body was rigid with fear. Reliving the memory of his kin’s death stimulated him. He wanted revenge. But his first thought was –
For the past few weeks or rather months as it seemed, he had fed on filth, vermin and rats in his room. He had even tried to eat the crumbled leather from the couch.
He looked around for something to eat……….Anything.
He had forgotten the very taste of bread & wine.
He needed food………..for strength. For the strength to seek revenge.
Curse those Shaitans.
But he had nothing to eat and no money. Maybe, he could steal.
Somehow he summoned the courage to stand up. It took a mountain of effort. This exercise left him sweating and shivering.
He had faith. Allah will come to his aid. Won’t He?
As he stumbled outside, no one was there to be seen. He could hear the very air whistle in his ears. Oh, how had the masked devils converted his beautiful village into a graveyard.
As he crawled forward he, found a Syrian pound glaring at him, stuck at the pavement. And that too a hundred. He blinked twice. Thrice. He leapt at the note and found it authentic. It was real money!
Oh, how he caressed and kissed the note.
The possession of money injected a new zeal in him. He almost jogged his way to the market square, falling twice.
Only a single shop was open in the whole, deserted square. A daily provision store. He prayed to Allah to bless the shopkeeper’s soul. Handing the shopkeeper the money, he begged for a loaf of bread & a bottle of goat milk. Not bothering to count the change, he labored quietly into a dark and empty alley.
Here no one could deprive him of his treasure.
Taking out the loaf, he thanked God. He held his palms together and bowed his head in reverence.
It must be Allah’s wish that he found the money.
He had faith. Maybe it was all Allah’s doing.
As he took a nibble, he was hit by a frenzy of hunger. His body was not to be cheated by a nibble, his teeth seemed to fling themselves at the loaf on their own accord. He tried to control himself, but every cell in his body was determined to eat.
It gorged the whole loaf. Every inch of it. At once.
Help……Help……He choked. He couldn’t breathe.
The air caught in the bread swelled like a sponge, pressing against his tendons. He tried to pull the loaf out but his swollen tongue got in the way.
Now the spasms hit him.
A solitary woman passed that way. She stopped to look at Hassan.
Hassan tried to ask for help but he could only gag. The terrified woman fled, screaming.
He felt his body give away.
The spasms ended. Now in an almost peaceful state, his wife’s words resonated in his mind.
His subconscious screamed, “I had faith. But Allah did not come. Why?”
He made a silent apology to his family, for not being able to seek revenge on their murderers.
Before dying, he had a last happy thought.
He was coming home. To his family.
And to his Allah.