Short story: Only for people

‘One, two, three … fifty four.’ after counting all the breads, Qari Saheb first  stared at Abdullah suspiciously, then patched half-cut breads to each  other to examine if they were cut by Abdullah, and when he was fully  satisfied that they were not, and the breads were collected from all the  houses of the village, he re-wrapped them in the chaddar and said, ‘The  prayer is about to be paid, get your Wazoo at once and join the congregation.’ Saying this, the Qari Saheb went to the mosque but  Abdullah replied with an ‘okay’ and stayed where he was.

 

He was tired very much because of collecting the breads from the whole  village in two trips under the sizzling heat. So he decided to join the prayer  at the last minute and relied on the heap of wrapped beds to have a little  relaxation.

 

The old fan of the room was giving cool air and he was enjoying it. Out of  the room, in that part of the vicinity of the mosque where people were  taking Wazoo, they were making too noise because it was Friday prayer  and usually large amounts of people attend it. Abdullah had observed  that on Fridays the mosque was filled so much that even some people  had to pray in the street due to no space available. He always liked to pray  in the street, in the last line. It was fun for him to pray with little boys of the  village who were supposed to pray in the last line of the congregation.

 

Suddenly, the Maulvi’s Friday speech caught his attention. The Maulvi  was giving his speech in a very emotional tone, citing from the Holy  Koran, ‘Wa La Tashtaroo Be Ayati Samanan Qalila And don’t accept   less wealth on my holy verses ‘Less wealth’ means that this whole world  is less than a mosquito in value in the eyes of our merciful God.’ Then the  Maulvi gave more details on this subject and established with several  quotes from the Holy Koran, Sayings of prophet Mohammad and Islamic  jurisprudence that if some one recited the Holy Koran and took money or  ate something for it, he will go to the hell.

 

Abdullah was listening to him attentively. He took the one-hundred
 rupees note from his pocket which was given to him a few hours ago by a  woman of the village who had managed a Khatam of the Holy Koran. She  had given lunch to all the attendants of the Khatam, but Abdullah had not  time to sit there and have lunch so she gave him a note of one-hundred  rupees.

 

As the speech finished, the congregation started to offer its prayer but  Abdullah immediately stood and went directly to the house where the  Khatam was held. He entered the home without any knock at the door and  found the only woman of the house, who had given him the one-hundred  note, taking Wazoo. She was very annoyed to see Abdullah entering her  home at this time.

 

‘What the hill did you come back for?’ she asked angrily, collecting her  clothes at the same time to end her Wazoo.

 

Abdullah was not scared. He was there to return the note to her and was  thinking how the Maulvi will be happy when he will find about this. It was a  great jihad for him. So he took the note from his pocket and gave it to her  without a word.

 

‘What is it?’ she inquired with more anger digging her eyes on his face.

 

Abruptly, she recalled her son who was died of a fatal disease in Abdullah’s age and tears filled her eyes. ‘Why did you bring it back?’ she  asked softly with love in her tone this time.

 

‘Our Maulvi says it is haram’

 

‘Haram?’ she was surprised, ‘why he says it is haram?’

 

‘Allah and His Prophet don’t allow us to take money or eat any thing in a  Khatam’

 

‘Ohhhh!’ she gave a sigh. She had heard that some new Maulvis have  created some new issues. And this is one of their issues that eating or  having something in a Khatam is haram. She was allergic of these new  Maulvis and their issues. And it was getting late as she had not offered  her Friday prayers yet. So she said in a ‘get rid of’ manner, ‘Look my son,  you are a child. Don’t care what the Maulvi says. What he preaches is for  us, not for you. Don’t give it to him, it’s yours And how dirty your clothes  are became. Bring them tomorrow. I will wash them for you. Okay’

 

‘No’ Abdullah replied firmly. He threw the one-hundred rupees note  towards her and ran to the door. The woman called after him, ‘Listen.

 

Listen my’ but in vain, as he was disappeared in the street.

 

On reaching the mosque, he saw that the Friday prayer had concluded  and only a few people of the village were still in the mosque.

 

First he felt worried because there was a strict punishment for those who  did not offer prayers in time. But then he relaxed as he thought about what  the great ‘jihad’ he had done. He could barely wait to tell to the Maulvi  about it.

 

When he entered the room, two Taliban were busy warming and  preparing their meal. Seeing Abdullah, they eyed each other and kept  busy in what they were doing. They separated five soft and white-looking  breads in a clean cloth and put some meat curry in a dish for the Maulvi  and Qari Saheb. Then spread other breads and dishes on the chaddar and announced in the mosque that the meal was ready.

 

Hurriedly, all the Taliban went to their room, gathered on the chaddar,  recited Bismillah but kept their hands away from the meal until the Maulvi  and Qari Saheb came some three minutes later. After they got theirselves  seated and their meal served, the Taliban began to eat.  There was complete silence for nearly thirty minutes. The Maulvi broke  the silence inquiring about some regular things of Friday congregation.

 

Like how much money was collected, how the people reacted to his new  speech, how much people were attending the congregation, etc.  Qari Saheb provided all the information. Then he added, ‘Also Abdullah  now brings complete breads.’

 

‘That is okay. You have beaten him yesterday. Please don’t beat him  again. He is only a child.’

 

‘Pardon me but you don’t know much about him. I know how to control  him.’ He said.

 

All the Taliban and the Maulvi looked at Abdullah.

 

‘He was not present in today’s Friday prayers’ informed Ashraf, known as  ‘spy’ of the Maulvi and Qari Saheb. All the eyes stared surprisingly first at  Abdullah and then at the Maulvi to know his reaction. Abdullah’s face  changed color. He was really frightened. It confirmed his crime. The  Maulvi beckoned him to come near. Abdullah obeyed immediately and  stood near the face of the Maulvi.

 

‘Where were you in the prayer time?’

 

‘I went to that house’

 

‘Which house?’

 

‘The woman had given me a hundred rupees in Khatam. When you said  in the speech that it is haram, I went to return it to her.’

 

‘krassss’ the Maulvi slapped Abdullah. He was hit so forcefully that he fell  on the ground. When he stood back, the mark of the Maulvi’s hand on his  face was visible to all.

 

The Maulvi has lost his senses which he did when he was in full anger.  Abdullah placed his hands on his face and began to sobbing and  quivering through fear.

 

There was silence after a few minutes. Slowly, the Maulvi recovered and  calmed himself. Then he grabbed Abdullah’s hand, comforted him in a  caring manner and said, ‘How a big fool you are! I give speeches to  people not to you’

 

He did not listen more as the words of the woman poured into his ears,

 

‘What he preaches is for us, not for you’.

 

 

Key to terms:

 

Qari: An Islamic religious student who learned the Holy Koran by heart.

 

Saheb: A term used in Urdu and some other languages as ‘Mr.’

 

Chaddar: A cloth usually people wear in cold weathers. It is used for other  purposes too.

 

Wazoo: Ablution in which Muslims wash certain parts of body at least  once a day to offer prayers.

 

Maulvi: A mullah, Islamic religious cleric.

 

‘Wa La Tashtaroo Be Ayati Samanan Qalila: A verse from  Soratulbaqara (The Cow)

 

Khatam: Reciting of all the thirty chapters of the Holy Koran.

 

Haram: Religiously forbidden.

 

Bismillah: It means ‘In the name of God’. Muslims say it before starting  every thing like eating, working, walking, etc.