Tahir

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Was it all worth it?

Submitted: July 20, 2016

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Submitted: July 20, 2016

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Tahir couldn’t blame his unit for leaving him behind. He was injured; the bullet had burrowed deep into his spine. The blood had stopped oozing, but he had now lost all control or feeling of his legs. He winced as he propped himself up, his back against an abandoned car.
 
It had all gone wrong. They didn’t stand a chance; their morale as low as their ammunition... their exhaustion mirrored in spirit and numbers. The few of them that had escaped the lost battle took Tahir with them, only to leave him when he was slowing them down. They pooled whatever ammunition they had left between them. It amounted to two clips and they left it along with their best AK-47. No words were exchanged, no forgiveness sought and no bitterness expressed. A mutual understanding pervaded the silence as they shook hands. He didn’t dare blink and neither did his comrades, knowing that it was the last time their eyes would meet.
 
He had grown up in this neighbourhood. It used to host a symphony of security; the birdsong early morning waned into the hustle and bustle of normality. With the area repeatedly torched by suicide bombs, the birds had fled and the people killed. All that remained was an overwhelming, palpable silence. Tahir felt like he was suffocating in it, his ears humming with every heartbeat. The air, in its stillness, had desiccated under the scorching sun. He could taste the death as he gasped in the heat.
 
The AK-47 felt heavy in his arms. Its sight suddenly evoked an intense jealousy... but also admiration. It was born to do one thing and it had done it well. It knew its place in the world, and its role in it was as straightforward as its barrel. Tahir winced with the pain in his back. He looked around him and couldn’t help but feel irrelevant. His non-descript upbringing, uneventful adolescence was now coming to an end. Some irrelevant person somewhere on an irrelevant TV station would say, “An estimated 30 fighters died today”. He wouldn’t even warrant an accurate number. It saddened him that this was the case, that the world had always ploughed on, relentless. It almost felt like his life was never really his own, his timeline too fast to catch up with, his choices not his to make.
 
He knew he didn’t have long, the enemy was fast approaching and he hoped that they would end things quickly. They would drag out the inevitable, using false hope as torture. His enemies on death row had the luxury of knowing exactly when and how they were going to die; no doubts or delusions to corrupt a scheduled end.
 
He was staring into the distance, and realised in his absent mindedness that he was beaming. Maybe it was the thought of his wife that traced his cracked, blood crusted lips into a smile. Layla was pregnant and had refused to tell him the sex of the baby. He knew anyway; she was hoarding all that was pink in the weeks before he volunteered for service. The prospect of having a daughter brought him so much pride; the thought filled him with warmth. He wondered how Layla was coping without him.
 
It all reminded him of when he first saw her. It was a blazing hot afternoon. The sun sat unobstructed in an empty sky and bleached the earth into phosphorescence. The electricity was out, and so was everyone. Their homes had converted to ovens and the scattered shade outside provided a chance to complain to all the neighbours. Tahir had joined the crowds, a piece of cardboard in his hand to fan himself and those around him.
 

Amongst the chaos, he heard the sound of children laughing. She was standing in the middle of the street, circled by boys and girls running and jumping. She was stood over them, in her hand a water hose powered by a noisy generator pump. Her thumb dented the outgoing stream and it splayed into a light rain over them. Time slowed, sound ceased and the silence accentuated the beauty that unfolded ahead of him. Her back was to the sun, her silhouette crisp against the blanched, dusty road. It was her hair which he fell in love with first; unruly, jet-black and ample. Under it was an unrestrained smile, her eyes fiery with emotion. As she moved, her plain, modest summer dress swayed nonchalent, her steps graceful and elegant. For a moment she was the only thing that existed...

Tahir's thoughts were interrupted. He could hear the enemy approaching, their foreign mix of dialects recognisable. His finger was on the trigger, his mouth reciting the Shahada and he waited.

It always ends too soon, he thought.


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