The last good bye

explosions

Ahmed looked lovingly at his son who was rubbing his eyes with the onset of the morning sun. The entire family comprising of his wife, four year old son and a toddler daughter were sitting in the kitchen for breakfast. His wife Salma had prepared some tea and was distributing the loaves of bread that she had got from the household the previous evening where she worked as a maid.

Ahmed was hungry but looking at the limited number of loaves, he picked up the one on his plate and gave it to his son who was hungrily finishing off his. Ahmed took his son lovingly in his lap. As soon as he did so, his daughter started shrieking loudly wanting to be taken into his lap too. Ahmed took his daughter and placed her on his lap and both the children were tugging at him. Uncontrollable tears rolled down his eyes which he managed to hide from his wife.

He remembered this time of the year five years ago. He was working as a helper in the house boats on Dal Lake owned by the big hotel. At that time he was newly married to Salma. Between the money earned by both, they managed to make ends meet. One day, he was visited by his childhood friend Shabbir whom he has not seen for many years. Shabbir had changed considerably since the time Ahmed had seen him. He had aged beyond his age and wrinkles appeared on his face on forehead. Shabbir had come home with two other friends. Salma fed them all food and then disappeared into the shadows leaving them to talk. Shabbir and his friends had come there for a mission. They talked in hushed tones about how prestigious their work is and how Allah would be pleased with them. They invited Ahmed to join their group. Ahmed was blissful in his newly attained marriage and was looking forward to welcoming their first child into this world. But he was lured by the fact that on completion of the mission he will own his own piece of land and maybe a house boat. Added to that, he will be doing a service to God and his people. Ahmed agreed to meet Shabbir next day at a designated place after dark.

Next day Shabbir introduced Ahmed to “Mir Saheb” who talked about the good work their group was doing. He formally christened Ahmed into group and swore him to secrecy. Initially, Ahmed continued to work in the houseboat during the day time and used to limit his group activities to the night or when he found time. But over the months to follow, he gave up his job at the houseboat and dedicated himself solely to the mission.

Money at home was dwindling and there was one more mouth to feed now. Salma often encouraged Ahmed to join back the work. But Ahmed behaved strangely. He used to be at home in the day time usually but go out when it is dusk or dark. Sometimes he used to be away for days without informing. On being repeatedly questioned, he used to answer “I am doing us a favour. I will soon tell you”.

On the arrival of his daughter, Ahmed looked back at his life and thought at length. His family was going hungry at times. Salma was working very hard during the day to get some food for the family. But for the past few weeks due to the arrival of their daughter, the family had to mainly rely on kind neighbours or leftovers brought home by his son from the nearby boat houses. He had a strong inclination to move back to his job and forsake the group. But as soon as he made his thoughts public to Shabbir, he convinced him that the end was quite near and they would be now “free”. This was around a year ago.

A fun filled glee from his daughter brought him out of his reverie.

He cast a loving look at his wife and whispered an inaudible “Please forgive me”. He kissed his daughter and hugged his son and left the house without looking back. Today was the fated day when he was chosen to be the lucky one to be the live bomb for the blast at Jamia Masjid.

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I am not sure about the mindset of the people who are convinced to give up their lives for destroying other people’s lives. But I am definitely sure that they have a throbbing heart with feelings of love, compassion and hope. They live a dream of being in a better world and bringing about a positive change. If such strong conviction, determination and drive could be rightly channeled, world would definitely be a better place to live in.

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