Dedicated to my 'valyachan' who gave the subject from which this story was developed
Tikrit, Iraq, 3rd July 2014.
It was still early for the heat waves to wreak discomfort, yet, travelers and tourists nearby arid deserts of Iraq felt the Sun beating down with an aberrant and torturous swelter. God, alone and within a passive veil of dementia remained asleep in his makeshift apartment in Tikrit, an apartment built by five Sunni and six Shia Muslims. On another day, many prayers would have irked his ears, many mouths would have spelled his name and many thoughts would have asked him to appear. But today he disappeared into a world of comfort, into oblivious sleep, without problems of the world disturbing his slumber.
Somewhere, not very far, Shamim Iqbal, a Shia Muslim, one who God knew as the 'lad who never prays for himself' began his daily routine. He sat in his prayer hall, overlooking Tikrit market, laid down his ragged prayer mat, and went into a deep meditation. He asked for good fortune and good days for all his Earthly comrades, even if he would have to wrestle to stay alive in a ruthless patch of land.
In the land of pyramids, Egypt, is a house sheltering Jerome and his wife Maria. If God never contacted dementia and if he would have opened his ears to Jerome, he would have heard the song of a Jew who was never treated like a human being. Along with his wife, he knelt before the wall where he imagined God's ears to be rooted between cement and stone.
Evening Sun fell like fragile drops of dew upon the face of Hiba at that precise moment, who sang repugnant melodies and seduced men to earn a living. She breathed the air of Madurai, and felt her sails adrift in the thick of decaying food and fresh human excreta. Along with the smells and wonders of Madurai, Hiba, a transgender searched for her(his) identity and religion. She loathed at the miserable system which treated her as an outlaw and crucified God over and over again for the blunder he made during her creation.
Jerome, Hiba and Shamim, miles apart, would never have realized the difference, the inevitable destiny which today overturned their prayers. Without knowing the medical situation of their God, they continued their daily existence. God, who woke up in his apartment, tried hard to understand his frequent spiritual awakenings and mind-reading capabilities, but succumbed to fate and woke up to Tikrit and its unceremonious day.
Naturally, God would not have perceived potential warning signs as a self-proclaimed Messiah, a savior of all God believers commanded his troops to spill blood for religious completion.
'I shall henceforth be called Ibrahim, I will be the prophet who shall guide you onto truth, and I declare war against every Shia Muslim and each non-believer!', Ibrahim shouted.
'Ibrahim knows God!'
'Ibrahim is the messenger!'
'Ibrahim is invincible!', every member of the troop discussed passionately.
Ibrahim, himself became fond of the response continued, 'The lotus in a dead pool, crabs in the saltiest seas, messengers among atheists all share a common attribute - Life! It is this life which I shall grant you, the life which is brought only with war!'
'You look weaker sire', Shamim looked distraught seeing God motionless in bed.
'Do you remember anything today?', he inquired.
'No my friend, I don't even remember my name.', God despaired.
'Don't worry sire, my God will help you!' Shamim seemed positive.
Jerome and his wife sold sugarcane in Luxor, a city widely known as the largest open air museum in the World. Probably due to its geological significance, the repertoire of life provided by tourism and life sustaining capability of the Nile, Luxor developed as a modern city while keeping intact its historic relevance. Jerome could easily blend into the mix. But as a Jew, he never commanded respect nor was bestowed equality.
The only day Jerome would remember as a genuine difference from ill treatment and mockery was the day when a military officer named Zafar Musthafa approached his meager store, brought sugarcane and gave him an extra token of 250 pounds. In a market where bargaining was a habit, and when on every other day Jerome would have to sacrifice a bit of his profit so that bargaining mouths were kept at bay, the extra 250 pounds Zafar Musthafa gave left Jerome with a passionate feeling; that all good was never entirely annihilated!
Jerome would henceforth pray for the military officer too, and was sure that men like him would certainly be exalted up to God's altar. Jerome was somehow sure that Zafar Musthafa would meet God in his life, and that God would hug him with all his love.
Today as Jerome made his way to the market, he remembered the dream that he saw in sleep that night, it was a strange dream, a dream he could not disclose to anyone lest they do not believe. He saw God in his dream, and Zafar Musthafa too, both of them were barely seen in a dim and foggy landscape. He seldom knew then that his dream would soon be a reality, that God and Zafar Musthafa would meet, at a place very far away from Luxor.
Shamim and God journeyed together towards Tikrit, buying food to break the Ramadan fast in the evening. The heat almost made it impossible for God to walk for long stretches. He rested at shades and drank water beggars gave. With thirsty gulps of fluid God would hear sounds of whispers - words from a humanity asking him to end disputes, start endeavors, destroy enemies, help families, develop wealth - all sorts of selfish and selfless inclinations. Bewildered by the noise, God stopped and asked Shamim if he hears anything strange.
'Define strange sire, everything is strange in Iraq', Shamim replied.
'I feel the world calling out to me!'
Shamim laughed at the idea. God asked for Shamim to get him back to his apartment.
The mutilated voices continued to persecute God. He stood spellbound. His head burned in agony, amidst which for a fleeting second he would have realized he was special, that every creature on the planet, every undiscovered spots of life on the universe - from dragonflies to highly intelligible ETs who observe space along with humans - everyone, everything came under his command. He should have understood that every fusing Helium atom of the Sun, every star born, every galaxy made or unmade, every comet jetting onwards to infinity, every quark, every boson, every time traveling particle in space, every second of eternity and every inch of darkness rested upon the palm of his hands!
Yet that realization died quickly within the walls of a hateful disease, God struggled on his way back and fainted repetitively onto Shamim's hands.
'Bomb Tikrit. Destroy!', Ibrahim's sound thundered.
A group of God fearing, faint hearted men motivated by the charismatic arrogance of Ibrahim moved onto Tikrit. They disarmed soldiers, decapitated them and made rivers of blood flow behind them. They spared women but poured vengeance towards all resisting men.
It was then that forward commander Zafar Musthafa asked his disciplined platoon to move into the heart of Tikrit. There they murdered all Shia Muslims they could identify. He gave the units free orders to shoot and capture.
Shamim and God heard gun shots and subsequent wails. God's ears were blocked by the frantic eruption of final prayers and deafening cries of his name. Shamim caught God's hands and asked him to run, but were intercepted on the way by Musthafa's men. The destruction of the nearby market was hidden behind the smoke of gunfire. Shamim would never see his wrecked home, tramped vegetables and disfigured dead bodies, perhaps it was God who saved Shamim from the vision which would have made him hysterical.
Within the foggy smoke, Zafar Musthafa emerged, elegant, dressed perfectly and with a modest smile. God saw Shamim dropping dead and found himself at gunpoint. Musthafa opened fire, and God felt pain for the first time. He saw skies opening up and the proliferation of malicious matter all around. It rained blood in every planet of the universe, and within that blood dynasties drowned and time froze.
God looked up at Musthafa, who stood panicked at the apocalypse which was brewing. God wreathed in pain. Before his brain was drained of life he heard four distinct prayers.
Hiba asked to forgive her and her flaws.
Shamim begged to pardon the soldier who shot him.
Jerome asked God to protect his wife from the bloody rains and prayed that the dream he saw would come true.
Finally, God heard Zafar Musthafa crying, 'God, help us!!'
God could do nothing but passively wait for the imminent end. He closed his eyes, forever.