Posted by: thetavernthoughts | March 22, 2011

The Warrior of Allah

The Warrior of Allah

Afsoon watched as she drew past the Landi Kotal station in a truck. It was the same as the British had left it in 1947 when they finally gave freedom to Pakistan. Afsoon remembered her teacher telling her that the station was the furthest point of the frontier railways, in erst while British rule. It was a sign of their domination over the pathan tribes, who had refused to yield to their power. The brave pathans had ensured that their regions were never directly ruled by the British, and hence the crown had declared them as autonomous. The same autonomy was retained while dealing with every government in Islamabad. As Afsoon recounted all the facts about her district, the Khyber Agency, she realised that she had missed school for the last three months. She wondered if her teacher had missed her as much, after all Afsoon was the only student who paid complete attention to what the teacher said. She looked at the crutches by her side and wondered if that was the reason why her teacher had always been kind to her.

She had lived in the same shanty house, towards the end of the town, for as long as she could remember. The old green dilapidated walls had housed ten members of her family. She loved them all, her old toothless grand ma who kept repeating the same stories to her, her mother who was always busy, her little sisters whose pony she would tie, and her brothers who always made fun of her being a girl. How much she would hate being a girl, she would envy their freedom. The knowledge of the outside world she rarely got to see. She liked the local maullavi who had convinced her father to send to school. Her father, the man she would know only form a distance. She always adored him, although she was too scared to say anything to him. He was always seemed distant, always spoke when he had to ask her to do something. He shown no reaction when her mother had timidly informed him that she had come first in her exam. He did however indulge her bothers, he often sit with them and tell them stories of the old Pathan warriors immortalized in history by their valor. He taught them the code of the pathans, hospitality, honour, and vengeance. She missed being boy even more then. She tried to make for it by following his every command, but never was there a word of appreciation from him.

In the evening, her brothers would listen to her uncles speak about evil America and how it had no culture and how it was responsible for all the moral corruption across the world. She had heard her teacher speak about Americans attacking Afghanistan to defeat Taliban and catch some Arab Warrior. She was never really interested in politics she had always liked poetry and painting. One day she heard her uncles talking about helping a certain group people who had run away from Afghanistan. She wanted to talk to these people, she wanted to know what weapons the Americans used, and if they were really that evil. She heard her father support the new arrivals. It was then that for first time she noticed changes in her normally fixed life. Her father came home in the evening one day, after spending the entire afternoon with his new friends.

He had always been aloof, yet for the first he seemed to look at her intensely. She felt scared and her crutches started to wobble. “You are not going to that school anymore” he declared and she mutely obeyed. Her father had always been religious but now, he started praying five times a day. He started yelling at her mother more than ever, Afsoon herself was trashed many times. Even the boys began to fear his presence. So when, suddenly one day, just before dinner, when he came home and started speaking sweetly to Afsoon it scared her even more.

“Afsoon, my daughter, you always wanted to learn, let me send you to a better school.”

“School.” Afsoon almost could not believe her ears, maybe her father had changed.

“Yes, a real school, where they will teach how to live a life of religion, not like your old school giving you sinful knowledge. You will come will you not?”

“Yes.” Said Afsoon knowing that “No” is not an option and also the concept of a special school sounded interesting, although she could not understand how the old one was sinful.

“Should I pack my bags?” She asked.

“No move right now they will give the clothes there.” her father now spoke in his normal harsh tone.

“Can I not say good-bye to mother.”

“No! You can’t.”

He hurried her out of the house, Afsoon tried to move as fast as she could with her crutches. Her father lost his patience and picked her up, and the crutches and walked towards the door. Her mother heard all the commotion that started happening as her brothers saw her being taken out in this manner. Afsoon was boarded in a small truck which had other children like her. They were all sleeping peacefully and a large Pathan with a black turban was guarding them. Her mother saw her there from the window and came out of the house screeching. Just then the truck driver started the truck and tried to give Afsoon’s father some money. Afsoon could see her mother had almost reached the truck. Her father refused the money

“She Is of no use to me with those crutches, hurry before her mother reaches.” Her father said tapping the driver on his elbow.

The truck sped away, Afsoon tried to bend out of the truck to catch her mother. The pathan pulled her back, and she tried to bite him. He effortlessly pushed her on the floor. Next thing Afsoon remembers was walking up in a strange cave. All the kids were awake then, they were all scared and trying to understand what was happening. Few seem to know, they told the others they should be proud to be Warriors of religion, for they had been chosen to be Mujahids, Jihad was their destiny now.

Next two months Afsoon was to eat and pray. Other children, who were fit, were given many exercises. In the evening Mulla Nassir ulla gave large sermons, which she would listen with interest. She learnt many things from the mulla, she heard the injustice happening to muslims everywhere in world, Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, how innocent girls like herself were killed by Americans for no reason. She was told Jihad was the most important thing according to Islam, although her own village maullavi had said that surrendering to will of Allah Was Islam, the two interpretations confused her.

She did not like the Mulla Nasir ulla, he was loud and repeated the same things again and again . People were scared of him, and hence at the end of the sermon when he would ask which of the kids was ready sacrifice their lives for cause of Islam, everyone had to raise their hands. Few did it enthusiastically most did it out of fear. The sermons made her wonder how, these kids and herself were going to fight the so called enemies of Islam. The Mulla Nasir ulla cursed even certain sections of muslims. He claimed the Shias too were Kafirs and almost all other sects were untrue than his own, which he claimed was the only true Islam. The more time she spent there the more she was confused about the nature of her religion. As long as she could remember, religion was always brought peace to her mind. She hated the new maullavi and she hated the so called school in the cave.

She started praying for guidance, her mother said that god always sent his frishatas to help kids like her when they prayed with faith. She would often ask god as to whome to believe this maullavi of what her own heart told her about religion.

Then one day the maullavi called her in evening, just before everyone’s drill ended and told her that she was luckiest one, for she was going to be the first of the group to be martyred. Afsoon, simply smiled back. Behind her their old companion from the truck stood with some kind of solution in his hand. Afsoon’s calm behaviour confused them.

“You will die tomorrow as a service to our religion.” Maulavi explained, he thought that perhaps he had not been clear enough. “I would like to say evening prayers early” She said. The maulavi allowed her to go. She then started praying fervently for a solution. She could not understand the reason as to why she was going die like this. She kept praying for a long time until finally her heart received an answer and she was at peace.

Her companion from truck Javed ulla had been observing her carefully. He was surprised at how calm she was, even adults had to be drugged at times, this girl however seemed to be at peace. He was curious about her and now started being extremely vigilant. He wanted to know what was in her mind.

Afsoon however, attended the dinner session with equanimity, it was hosted in her honour and the food was better than usual. At night she pretended to sleep, her heart often wavered from the path her heart had chosen for her. She wanted to run, and yet she chose to stay. She prayed for strength, and in her prayer she had few moments of peace.

Next day Javed Ulla strapped explosives on her waist and hid them below her burqa. He guided her to the truck. they  left from caves. Afsoon could see now that she had not been far from home. They had taken to caves of landi Kotal. She wished she could see her mother and teacher one last time as she crossed the Landi Kotal Station.

The journey from Landi Kotal to Peshawar was of three hours, along the way she could glimpses of the beautiful bald mountains that made up the Khyber agency. As she travelled through the Khyber Pass she could hear her teacher explain its significance to the students, the pass that was a gateway to India. The journey seemed really long and Afsoon almost wished she had been drugged. They reached their destination finally. The truck stopped at distance from the Qissa Khawani Bazaar, one of the most famous bazaars of Peshawar. The story tellers market, as the British called it, had an enigmatic charm of its own. It was not lost on the young girl as she saw endless shops lined up in the gully. Javed told her to go amidst the crowd and stand. As she was about get down, he asked her “How can you be so calm.”

“Can you read,” she asked in turn.

“I asked for guidance and Allah sent an answer to me. Let me write it down for you. read after the mission is over.”

Javed Nodded

Afsoon nodded meekly and started walking towards her target. She was too scared to look back lest she lose her courage and try running, thereby failing her plan. She searched for her spot and finally she found it, she walked towards the spot. She did not know that Javed had been instructed to press the remote after exactly two minutes. She was merely following her instinct. There were so many people in burqa same as her, and there were so many crowds, she knew Javed would never have known where she had gone.

Javed looked at his watch and pressed the remote. The bomb exploded, on a deserted ground just before the market. After a moment of stunned silence people started running in panic. In the panic that happened, Javed realised he had missed the target. She had exploded far away from the crowds and had caused no damage. Stunned he opened the answer she had written for him.

“If not me you would send someone else, so I had to go to ensure that there were no more cripples.”

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Responses

  1. This is a intressesting blog you give it a good title to.


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