An Excerpt from -
TANZEEM (2011) - by Mukul Deva
‘How is the
old man now?’ the Ameer asked, turning to face him.
good.’ The doctor hesitated before he continued, unsure what the fate of
the bearer of bad news would be. ‘He is slipping away fast.' He looked
apologetic. 'We have tried everything but there has been too much internal
damage. Maybe I could have done something if I had the facilities of a
full-fledged hospital available to me. Right now, here . . .’ His voice
‘I want to
doctor helped the Ameer to his feet and began to walk him outside. Halting
at the door the Ameer rid himself of the doctor’s supporting hands, took
a deep breath, straightened his back and stepped out unaided. He was
enough of a leader to know that in this part of the world any show of
weakness was unacceptable. He was smart enough to know that weakness was a
clear invitation for the enemy to close in for the kill; Allah knew that a
man like him had enough enemies. Commanding his body to ignore the pain he
followed the doctor to the hut across the alley.
When he reached
the hut the Ameer could hear moans of pain, and the smell of spirit and
blood assaulted him as he went inside. There were two men hovering around
the frail, elderly mullah. More than half of Hamidi’s upper body was
drenched in blood. He seemed to be just about holding on to life.
Miraculously his face had been left untouched by the American missiles.
At a glance
from the Ameer everyone left the room, except the doctor who maintained
vigil from the door.
‘How is it
going?’ There was a trace of affection in the Ameer’s voice as he
gingerly sat beside Hamidi and took one of his hands in both his own.
well.’ Hamidi's voice was almost drowned out by his wheezing, rattling
The Ameer had
to lean forward to catch the pain-laden whisper. ‘We will soon have you
up and about,’ he said, trying to sound encouraging.
‘No, you will
not.’ The mullah gave a weak smile.
Just then a
sudden bout of coughing seized him. Flecks of blood spotted his lips and
beard. Picking up a wad of cotton from the bedside table, the Ameer gently
wiped his mouth clean. It was an uncharacteristic gesture from the cold,
acknowledged it with a grateful smile. ‘But there are no regrets, my
son. We have had a long and eventful journey, have we not?’
have, and by the grace of Allah it has been a glorious one.’
remember how it all began?’
‘Of course I
do. Can I ever forget?’
good. Don’t ever let go of the past. Remember that we are what we are
because of what lies behind us.’ Another burst of blood-sputtering
coughing interrupted Hamidi. After it had subsided he drew a deep breath,
and added, ‘You will remember what Allah wants from you? You will not
stray from the path, will you Jalal?’
not.’ The Ameer’s fingers pressed Hamidi's fragile hand
‘Good. Do not
let these treacherous army bastards get away with this betrayal. Remember
that Pakistan was established exclusively so that the sharia and the rule
of Allah the Magnificent could be implemented.’
so it shall be.’ The Ameer's face was taut with anger. ‘If they think
they can play fast and loose with us they are mistaken. Don’t worry, I
am going to make the traitors pay for siding with the crusaders.’
but be very careful. Remember there is too much at stake. Everything we
have worked for is now almost within our grasp.’ Hamidi was tiring fast.
His breath was becoming heavier and harsher. Another bout of coughing
wracked the old man. More drops of blood sprayed out from his mouth; the
internal hemorrhaging had intensified. His hand, clasped between the
Ameer’s larger ones, betrayed the pain throbbing through his body.
‘Can I ask
you a favour?’ the mullah murmured. ‘One final favour, for an old
looked deep into his eyes, a hint of sadness lining them, as though he
knew what Hamidi was going to ask for. ‘Of course,’ he replied
weakly. ‘You know me well my son.’
‘How could I
not? You have been like a father to me . . . the only father I have ever
known.’ There was an unexpected depth of affection in the glance they
exchanged. ‘Are you sure?’ the Ameer asked. Even voicing the thought
was hurtful for him.
‘Yes. I am
sure.’ Hamidi’s voice was fading. ‘There is no point in delaying the
inevitable and prolonging the agony my son. Let me go now.’
The Ameer threw
a quick glance at the doctor, desperately seeking some hope but saw none
reflected there. He turned to the mullah and gave a reluctant nod. There
was gratitude in the smile he got in return. Leaning forward, he gently
raised the old man in his arms and held him close. ‘Sleep well. I shall
miss your guidance and support.’ His grip on Hamidi tightened briefly
before he freed his right hand, reached for the pistol stuck in his
waistband, and placed it against the dying man’s heart.
Hamidi looked into his former student Jalaluddin's eyes, meeting death as
he had always lived his life: head-on, without flinching.
manning the door winced as the solitary pistol shot crackled through the
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