Two Fridays  

by Eline

 

 

i.

 

The sun was just past noon over the al-Jummah mosque in Brixhall Lane, south London. Karim and a dozen of his brothers in Islam stepped out of the mosque, fresh from zuhr prayers, and into the biting cold of a London winter; into the ignorant hedonistic money-loving pork-fuelled blindness of the kaffir world. Karim clenched his fists and narrowed his eyes – how he would love to be free of this place; the country into which he had had the misfortune of being born. He had never been there, but Pakistan was his true home, the land of his fathers. Why had his parents ever left that place, and come to this land of ignorance, where the godless rubbed shoulders with the Christians and the Jews, and with the polytheist Hindus, pushing the brothers and sisters of the true faith to the sidelines? He looked out across the road, and saw some of them: four white lads, shouting and laughing, clutching cans of lager, ignorant of their fate to come when Allah will judge all. One of them spotted Karim watching them, and he stopped his friends.
“Oi, Osama!” he called out; his friends laughed; Karim said and did nothing but stare, “What you starin’ at?”
Karim lifted his chin and clenched his fists tighter, but remained silent. He saw from the corner of his eye that he was alone, now – his Muslim brothers had left, gone home. There was nobody around but himself and the four whites.
“I’m talkin' to you Saddam! What you lookin’ at, eh?”
Karim turned and walked away. Seconds later, he felt a shove to his back and a cold liquid over his neck – the stench of lager hit his nostrils at the same time he hit the floor.
A shout came from behind – “Fuckin’ ignorant Paki!” – and then he felt a kick to his ribs. Rolling onto his back, he saw, standing over him, the four white lads. One of them – the one who had been shouting, and the one who had kicked him – took a swig from his lager then poured the last dregs over Karim’s face, before throwing the empty can at him. It collided with his forehead with a sharp blow, and knocked the black kafiyeh from his head. The other three lads followed suit, throwing their cans down at him, and drawing blood, and then all four proceeded to kick Karim repeatedly, all the while hurling racist and ignorant insults.

Kamal looked at his watch: 5.16pm. He was walking home after a long day working at the Karachi docks. His home was two rooms in a three-storey house just inside the small Hindu neighbourhood; indeed, his landlord, Ramesh, was a Hindu. Kamal had never had any problems with the Hindus, or other non-Muslims. He barely considered himself a Muslim, in fact, despite being brought up to be one – Islam had never done anything for him, so he didn’t do anything for it. He would take part in the prayers with his work colleagues, and he would attend the masjid – his local one, the al-Jummah on Abdullah Omani Road, was just round the corner from home – for Friday prayers if he felt he couldn’t get away with it, but he felt no real affinity for Islam; he got nothing special from the prayers or the traditions. He looked up and saw that he was on Abdullah Omani Road right now, and the masjid was up ahead. A small crowd of men was gathered outside it, shouting and arguing with one another in several languages. He could hear Urdu and Sindhi, and even a few words of English. He considered crossing the road to stay away – it was doubtless yet another uninteresting religious debate – but one of the men turned and saw him approaching. It was his friend, Ghulam.
“Ey, Kamal brother! Come here!”
Kamal took a deep breath and approached the throng. Ghulam put an arm across his shoulder and pushed him gently but forcefully forwards, into the crowd. He could see now that they were all gathered around something, looking at it and throwing around questions and opinions: “Who is he?”; “What happened?”; “He probably deserved it”; “He shouldn’t be here anyway, he should be with his kind”.
Kamal could now see: there was a man lying on the floor, amidst the bustle of men, in a slowly growing pool of blood. Leaning closer, and craning his neck round a tall fat man, he got a good look: it was Ramesh, his landlord. He was lying on his back, one arm resting on his chest, the hand seemingly clutching at his heart, the other arm extended, pointing, almost accusingly, towards the door of the masjid. His face was pale, drained of blood, and his eyes were wide open, seeming to stare directly at Kamal. It was obvious, though, that he was dead – his head was not attached to his body.

Karim was about to pass out from the repeated blows, when he heard more shouts – different voices. He looked up and saw five people pulling the white thugs away from Karim. One was a short white woman wearing a denim skirt that barely hid her underwear; one was a tall black African man wearing a crucifix on a chain round his neck; one was an olive-skinned man in black – Karim recognised him as a Jewish rabbi; one was a white man wearing a smart suit; and the fifth was, he was faintly glad to see, an Asian brother – but a Sikh man in a sky blue turban. The Sikh and the black man squared up to the thugs, who spat at them but knew their game was up, and ran like the cowards they were. The rabbi and the suited white man squatted down and helped Karim sit up, carefully. The rabbi picked up Karim’s fallen kafiyeh and handed it to him. Meanwhile, the white woman in the miniskirt had pulled a mobile phone from her handbag and was calling for an ambulance for Karim, all the while chewing gum with her mouth open. Karim rolled his kafiyeh between his hands, smiled vaguely up at the rabbi, and fainted.

 

ii

 

 

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