Short story: Only for people
Filed Under: Music & Film, Opinion | Posted: 10/20/2007 at 11:12PM
Comments | Region: Pakistan
‘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’
‘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.