Two Fridays  

by Eline

 

 

iii.

 

A phone call went through to the police station: hold Kamal on suspicion of murder – a large knife, practically a machete, had been found, flung cockily and without apparent fear of discovery, on his bed in the dead man’s house, covered in blood. Kamal, naturally, protested: “I didn’t do it! I was at work! He was my friend!” The police dismissed the other men who had been collected from outside the masjid, but Ghulam stayed behind, trying, to no avail, to back up Kamal’s story. The police considered the case over, solved, sewn up. A neat conclusion it was, too: Kamal, practically an apostate, was out of the way, and Pooja and her sons couldn’t possibly stay, now – not after this. Another set of Hindus soon to be heading back to India where they belong. And then the phone rang again…

Karim ran, stumbling, into the street, and kept running until he could run no more. He looked at his hands – covered in blood, one of them still clutching the penknife he had used to commit the terrible deed. He had no idea if his assailant had died; that didn’t matter too much, as he would be in deep trouble anyway. He thought a moment about the day of judgement: even if it wasn’t homicide, GBH would still carry a heavy punishment. He stopped his thoughts in their tracks – that wasn’t the day of judgement, that was a day in court. Why was he worrying about what the law would say? He looked up from his hands and saw where he had stopped: outside the al-Jummah mosque on Brixhall Lane, where it had all started. He looked down at his hands again, and saw the blood and the knife. These weren’t the hands of a good Muslim: these were the hands of a killer. He continued to stare, then heard a cry. The brothers – no, the men – were coming out of the mosque again; the asr prayers were over.
“Karim brother! What have you done?”
In reply, Karim dropped to his knees, the bloody knife scattering away from him, and wailed. He touched his forehead to the cold paving stones, as if in prayer, and swore loudly. An ambulance sped past, sirens blaring. A moment later, a police van pulled up outside the mosque.

“Our colleagues in Hyderabad apprehended a man at the train station. He had dried blood on his hands and was gibbering about killing his own father. It was the Hindu lad, Ramesh’s son Manoj. He even said he tried to frame you for it, chummy. It looks like it’s your lucky day.”
Kamal felt relieved that he wasn’t going to be accused of a murder he would never have committed, after all. He even felt a desire to thank God.
“It seems,” the policeman continued, “that Allah is being good to you. Not that you deserve it, everyone knows you don’t even pray, but at least you’re not a Hindu, eh? Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Kamal was released, then, to go home, but, considering the circumstances and the location of home, he decided to spend the night at his parents’ house, and to look for somewhere new to stay in the morning. Before going to his parents, though, he made a detour to Abdullah Omani Road, and slipped into the al-Jummah masjid, just in time for isha prayers – the last ones of the day, and, today, marking the end of another Friday.

A tabloid reporter hoping secretly for some anti-Muslim venom from the mother of the murdered lad was disappointed to find that she was a level-headed woman who didn’t blame Karim’s religion, nor did she really blame Karim himself – she knew what her son had been like, so she knew that Karim had probably been driven to madness. The police had told her that her son and his friends had beaten the poor young man to a pulp earlier that same day, and she wasn’t really surprised at all.

Karim was clearly full of remorse and self-pity, so his personal day of judgement was not nearly as bad as he had feared: only seven years in prison. When offered the chance to share in regular prayer times with his fellow Muslim prisoners, he declined and preferred to stay in his cell: he didn’t believe in praying for forgiveness, especially not for something as terrible as he had done. Often, he didn’t even pray at all, but when he did, he was asking for forgiveness: not from Allah, but from the five people who had helped him that day: the woman, the Christian, the Jew, the banker and the Sikh. He had failed their kindness and their tolerance, and he had failed himself, and he had failed Islam itself. Murder can never be justified or forgiven.

 

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Two Fridays ©  2005 Eline

 

 

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