Ahmed closed his eyes frantically as the girl swayed lasciviously in front of him. He prayed god internally that he would be forgiven to have to witness this terrible display of nudity. There was flesh everywhere, inescapable, palpable, exhilarating and nauseating all at once. He checked himself and thought he should whip himself a hundred times at least for allowing this perversion to make him feel exhilaration. He knew he had no choice as this was his heavenly mission, follow and destroy his target, Senator McMillan. He had no doubt that his mission was heavenly as just the last two nights had shown him what evil he should remove from the Earth. It was a bonus to his mission described earlier as mainly the removal of a hindrance to the motion on the reinstatement of free trade with his country which had suffered sanctions earlier owing to the very radical views of its leader. Senator Mc Millan had opposed the motion ferociously arguing that if they allowed such radical leaders to get away with such atrocities committed and with the disguised support of terrorism then there would be no point in applying sanctions in the first place.
Senator Mc Millan had a wife and 6 children as he was visibly enacting in his personal life his goal of being an example for his community to further his no abortion campaign. Ahmed thought to himself that this was perhaps the only thing that united him and this man, the idea that a baby’s life was precious. Senator Mc Millan’s life on the other hand was worthless it seemed as he did not really live up to his ideals. A good father and church going, charity funding person in public, he was actually a depraved man who loved to have women in a dance bar step with high heels on his back in private rooms where they danced for him and a few others.
What else they did he knew not as he could only see from a distance what was going on and that too behind half closed lids as he felt he could be tainted by watching fully this display of exuberant depravity. Ahmed had succeeded in seducing one of the waitresses at the bar and she had let him in on the secret life of Senator McMillan one day as well as given him access so he may view this himself one night. He had made her believe that he was a journalist and that he was in love with her, would marry her and respected her too much to have any form of sexual contact before they were married.
The barmaid, Amanda, was elated to have found her knight in shining armour. Every day for a week now she had waited breathlessly for his arrival when it was her time to go home and surely enough there he had been, escorting her to her residence and then kissing her hand before saying goodbye. She could hardly believe her good fortune at having found this absolute gem of a human being who was so knowledgeable on a vast number of subjects and always so humble as well as so caring in introducing her to all these concepts.
When she had first confessed that she had barely made it to high school as she had had to work after the death of her father, he had become very emotional mentioning that education should be a basic human right and that all people should be entitled to get to at least university level without hindrance. He had mentioned at the time that if he had his way, things would change hugely in society. He had talked with such passionate intensity that he had seduced her even more and it was therefore without the slightest qualm that she had broken the golden rule of privacy she had maintained at the bar for years and allowed him into the inner room.
On the third night he visited the bar’s inner room, he told Amanda not to stay in the room after she had escorted him in and she agreed although slightly fearful that he might step out of line if she did not keep a close watch on him. He had promised however that he would only take a few pictures and nobody would ever know that she had been the one to allow him in. She left as he started drawing out small boxes she presumed were tools for his photography from his knapsack.
As soon as Amanda had left, Ahmed started putting together the mini-bomb kit. He wanted to make sure that all the occupants of the room were killed and not just Senator Mc Millan. He did not think they deserved to die with him and had therefore decided at the beginning of the week not to use his suicide vest but just to put it in a corner of the room. He moved stealthily across the floor to the other exit Amanda had showed him after securing the bomb under one of the tables.
The group of men and women were so engaged in their activities that hardly anyone noticed him. Ahmed went through them, eyes almost fully shut, shying away from the display of flesh. He could not help but notice again that there was so much flesh everywhere, white, pink, rosy or reddened by streaks of what seemed a whip. A chill went through him and his forehead broke into sweat as he thought back to how he had whipped himself for straying and another image of a whip on pink offered soft fleshy skin crossed his mind like a lightning bolt and he shuddered with a mixture of pleasure and horror at that thought. He was glad it would be soon over and he would never have to think about this again.
As he reached the other door, he quietly let himself out and engaged the detonator’s mechanism. It was set to just twenty seconds as he knew the charge was just enough to blast everyone in the room and he would be safe behind the solid door. Only a small oval porthole in it allowed one to see through it. Just seconds before the room ignited with the blast, he saw Amanda enter it from the other side looking for him. A chill ran through him and he closed his eyes as the blast shook the ground under his feet. When he opened them again, there were pieces of flesh on the porthole. He knew he should be leaving fast now as the police would soon be there and the bodyguards were running towards the place from the other side. Like in a dream, he opened the door and looked into the room. He could not distinguish in the pile of flesh on the ground what belonged to whom. He saw pieces of what was probably the short black skirt that Amanda wore and knew that the pieces of flesh there must be some of her. He knew he should leave but he wanted to find the rest of her. He was not sure how to distinguish the pieces. There was flesh everywhere. He closed his eyes but could still see flesh everywhere under his eyelids.
Ahmed’s walkie talkie buzzed as his friends wanted to congratulate him on a successful mission. It was not every day that such a junior member of the team got to bring down one of their heavy weight targets so quickly. Their leader had initially hesitated to send an unexperienced young man into the field but Ahmed had quickly convinced him with his intelligence and strategical thinking. Besides, most of them were already known to the police and none of them would have got this close to their target without being noticed. The walkie talkie kept buzzing but Ahmed did not answer it. He did not move either but remained prostrated on the floor, his eyes seeking pieces of her.
When the police finally came, they found him in the same position. They had an inkling that he might be involved in this and he was anyway their only suspect for now as nobody else who did not bear identification was anywhere near the room. Ahmed allowed himself to be hauled up by the policemen. They seemed to be asking him questions but he could barely understand what they were saying. All he could focus on was how much flesh was all over them. He blinked, attempting to cancel out those vast stretches of skin from his mind’s eye but he could only see flesh. He blinked again trying to remember what Amanda’s face looked like when she turned towards him with a smile but all he could see was pieces of flesh.
One of the policemen answered the walkie talkie which had been buzzing again and realised that Ahmed was indeed a terrorist and that his friends were waiting around the corner to retrieve him from the location. The whole group was caught in no time and tried for acts of terrorism. During the whole trial, Ahmed remained mute while his friends yelled out death threats to the prosecutor and the judges, warning them with all hells fires if they sentenced them. When the judge came to the question of whether any of the condemned had anything to say and it was Ahmed’s turn, he looked at the judge blankly and upon the repeating of the question, he screamed “Flesh, there was so much flesh. It was everywhere, everywhere” before toppling over, unconscious, frothing at the mouth.
When he came to again, the guards hissed at him and told him that he was going to be fried in a few days, just like he had fried all those innocent people inside that room. Every day they made sure they came in and described to him how he was going to be friend while they brought him his meals. Ahmed did not answer anything but just prayed silently in his corner until they left and then ate some of what they had brought. On the final day, when it was time for the execution, they came for him jeeringly, expecting him to give in to fear finally but it was the same indifferent Ahmed that met their eyes. They pulled him across the corridor slightly more brutally than they pulled other prisoners who were going to be executed. He was not just a killer but an emblematic loathsome figure of a society that they did not understand and abhorred which practiced a radical and prehistoric version of a faith they could barely begin to fathom.
When they started securing his bonds, he closed his eyes, only opening them again after they had finished securing the bonds holding his head against the chair. A tremor passed through his frame and his eyes glazed over with tears as he saw Amanda on the glass pane in front of him. He had only known her for a week but a million images of their times together jolted through his body at the same time that the electricity surged within it. He wished he had known her earlier and perhaps then, he would have truly married her and taken her to his village in the mountains where they could have raised pigeons and babies and he could have taught in the local school. Perhaps after all, it was love that was the answer to all that hate in the world as she had told him once, her hand soft on his. He could smell the burning of his flesh while he experienced the searing pain in his loins. He closed his eyes again, his eyelids imprinted with the face of Amanda, no longer pieces of flesh but a fleshy landscape of love as she turned towards him, her smile restored.
For those who had not followed earlier my blog and don’t have time to look them up, I’ll just summarise saying that my father went through a difficult land grab experience followed by the forced sale of his house and his kidnapping to a remote location in Tamil Nadu where I finally found him after months of searching for him, going to and fro between Dubai where my children lived and India which I visited every weekend for almost a year until his situation was sorted.
My father has now been with me for around three years and has recovered from his adventures. He also went from being confined to his bed in an old age home in India (where he was awaiting the preparation of his passport for months – forget about the supposed immediate access to passports for senior citizens) where he was spoon fed and lifted to go to the bathroom/shower to an almost fully independent status save for cooking for himself which he now rarely does.
A very spiritual and erudite person, my father remains mentally very active albeit in a remote way as far as the link to human beings around him is concerned. While he keeps himself very well informed thanks to a Tamil newspaper called the Daily Thanthi and to the news reports that he follows almost religiously, his links to the reality around him are less intense and he is often immersed within his own world which paradoxically is made of very deep analysis of all the phenomena happening in the world. I realised that what I took for indifference about the matters of this world was rather a form of detachment made of absence of intensity regarding the outcome despite the very deep analysis of the subjects he examined. It appealed to my own quest for detachment which I practice albeit in a different form as I believe that the heart should remain at the center despite the lack of intensity regarding the outcome.
This got me thinking that there were so many people in this world like my father, living in this world but barely in it so to speak and content with very little. In a time where so many human beings are literally killing each other over access to resources whether basic or of a higher level and in a society where consumption of goods, even those which are absolutely not necessary items of life, is the driving factor, I remain at awe of this generation of human beings who hardly had the need for all this wastage and who are so content with the small joys of life.
For my father, a great source of joy is to be able to enjoy a slice or two of bread with some Roquefort cheese together with some pineapple juice and followed (if not preceded when he is hungry for news) by the reading of his favourite Tamil newspaper. Whenever he is able to have all these items together, his happiness is palpable and I regret that sometimes the newspaper is not available at the store where they know my father and tell me that he is apparently almost the only one who buys it. When I think of the cost (spread out for the Roquefort) of that happiness, a mere AED 22, I feel that it is truly amazing. There will be those who come from humbler origins who would of course be happy with much less but my father was a doctor specialized in pulmonary diseases so one would expect that his standards and requirements to lead a happy life would be fairly more demanding.
I have to say that even when he was younger, my father led a simple life and was always willing to help others, to the extent that he sometimes drove into the Tunisian desert to provide medicine to those who could not visit the city. While he may have had some faults, I truly believe that my father is an unsung hero, a sample from a generation that is becoming extinct in this day and age. Every time I think of anything in life that causes me any discomfort, I always think back to my father’s approach in life and to the little things that give him immense satisfaction and I feel an immediate quietening of all discomfort I may experience.
My father will be 85 this year and I do hope that he will get to live to a hundred walking around and sitting as he does with his back straight and with such dignity and poise. I am including a picture of my father who has more of a Tagorean beard now. I find it particularly endearing as he does not button his shirt fully because it is then easier to unbutton 🙂
Together with my father, there are all those other unsung heroes of India, some in the open and thriving, others perhaps lying on a small mat in some isolated place, who have contributed so much during their active lives to a society that can barely acknowledge them for what they represent. Perhaps this acknowledgement of all those unsung heroes, a program to actually visit them in their houses and have social workers perform a follow-up on them for those living isolated would be and retain to some extent, the measure of our humanity.