All the Sadeq are killed
The most naive boy in the village of Dhabaldhola had been murdered. The decapitated body lay on the dividing line between the Bangari field and the Taro cultivation field. The last person who was killed in this village was Dr. Mukul, and that too, about a decade ago. He too had been found decapitated in the street. He was an adulterer who had to face his ruthless fate. But none of the villagers knew why Sadeq had been murdered. Their assumptions were based on other murders that had taken place. This belief was reinforced when ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder on its website, which was later broadcast as a ticker on television. But the IS hadn’t provided any specific reason, so it remained a mystery. A few of Sadeq’s friends were talking about it atop the half-broken perimeter wall of their high school, where they always gathered before classes ended for the day, located across from the girls’ school.
“What ISIS did was wrong. They could have at least mentioned the reason!” Shafiq said.
“Listen, if ISIS kills, the reason is crystal clear. Have you ever heard of ISIS killing over petty arguments, ransoms or quarrels resulting from romantic affairs? They kill for one right,” said Barkat, the wisest of plot.
“Yes, but those who were beheaded were all atheists!
“Not all of them. Priests and clergy were also killed. They may have been infidels, but they weren’t atheists.”
“Same. Is there even a difference between infidels and atheists?”
“That’s not the right attitude to have, is it, Asad? asked Barkat.
“I don’t know what is good or bad. I heard that Hindus in India were burning Muslims alive!”
“Why? Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Amir Khan… then there’s Yusuf Pathan, Zaheer Khan… They’re all Muslims. Hindus practically worship them,” retorts Akbar, the group’s moron. As usual, Barkat and Asad pretended not to hear him.
“Okay, let’s say they kill infidels and atheists. But what about the professor from Rajshahi University who loved music? He was not an atheist. Why was he killed ?”
“Music is forbidden in Islam. Students used to go there to get an education, but this man taught them how to make music and showed them foreign films. Do you know what foreign films mean? Remember the back when we were watching two movies with one ticket. “You know the guy,” Habel added.
“I don’t know if the music is good or bad. But in the Hadith, I have yet to see a part where our Prophet said to the Sahabis, ‘Come, let us have fun with music.’ Nothing like that is mentioned anywhere.” Skinny, aka Chiku Mokles made his own argument in agreement.
“Good. But why Sadeq? Only a week ago, Sadeq and I were side by side during Friday prayers. I whispered to him, ‘Today is a special day. Whoever makes 50 rakats in a row ‘today will see the shadow of Mika’il in the sky at the stroke of midnight.’ He gave me a surprised look, but he didn’t say a single word. The next day, on the way to school, he ran towards me raising his fists as if he was going to hit me and he m asked: “Where? I saw nothing in the midnight sky! So tell me, why would this person have been killed? He couldn’t even sing. Once, when he was asked to sing at school, he ran away, don’t you remember? Hadisur asked.
“Say what you want. ISIS is not the kind of group to get its targets wrong. I heard they are more powerful than America. They spy on their targets for years before make any decision,” Habel said. noted.
“Hmm. They’ve been spying on Sadeq, twenty-one, for twenty-five years now!
“Stop ridiculing me, Barkat. ISIS will hear our conversation. It’s not like I’m saying anything against them! I have nothing to fear!” Habel cringed as soon as he said those words.
” Why ? Shah Rukh, Salman, Amir… then Irfan, Zaheer… They are all Muslims. The Hindus put them on a pedestal. Akbar the moron was repeating himself. When he has an idea, he repeats it from time to time. The others had gotten used to it now and weren’t bothered by it anymore. But hearing Shah Rukh Khan’s name, Asad could not sit still.
“Hey, did you watch the movie Fan? I tried to watch it a few times, but I just couldn’t sit on it. It’s just not masala enough!” Asad complained.
“Hmm. They could have included an item song. Sunny Leone’s Mastizaade is so much better!”
“Have you seen the music video for Sunny Leone’s ‘Pink Lips’? It’s on my phone,” Habel said, and Sunny became the focus of the whole band.
Friday. Gofur Mian, Sadeq’s father, had gone to the mosque earlier. Gofur Mian is the kind of man who wouldn’t pray regularly. But it was the first Friday after Sadeq died. He rushed to the mosque to ask the huzoor to dedicate a prayer to Sadeq after the usual Friday prayers. He had planned to sit in a corner and pray earnestly after Friday prayers. Police and reporters had harassed him with questions for the past few days and he had barely had a chance to mourn his son.
Sadeq’s request surprised the huzoor. “Will this be the right thing to do? ” He asked.
“Why wouldn’t that be okay?” Gofur felt anxious.
“You know… There is no evidence that your son was a believer or not. If he turns out to be an atheist, what’s the point of praying for him? want to get involved.” The huzoor was rational. Upset, Gofur ended the prayers and went straight home. He went to his room, closed the door and sat down on the prayer rug. He finally came out after sunset, his eyes swollen. He had gone to the sahib deputy of his constituency to seek justice. The day before, the deputy sahib had told reporters that no matter who the killers were, they would be brought to justice. But he had summoned Gofur to tell him something else – he wouldn’t meddle in any atheist business.
“Sir, everyone in the village can testify that my son was a believer. We didn’t even know what or who the atheists were!” implored Gofur.
“The villagers are going to testify, you say? But no one did! Every time someone asks about your boy, they run away.
“Sir, he used to pray all the time. People are too scared to say anything. But Allah is my witness.”
“That’s what I say too. Allah knows the truth. But if any evidence comes forward to prove that he was in fact an atheist, will you be able to stay in your village? You have two daughters who are of childbearing age. marry. Will you be able to marry them? Tell the reporters that you have accepted what happened. If necessary, I will make an announcement and give you ten thousand taka. I don’t always have money on hand. Also take two goats. They will be useful at your daughters’ weddings.” The deputy sahib always had to have the last word.
On the day Gofur returned from the district capital, he was visited by one of the MP’s men, who was joined by the local village chief. It was around midnight and Gofur had finally been able to get some sleep. The agitation and hostility that had been kindled in him on hearing the deputy’s words had evaporated. He had sworn not to seek justice from anyone but God, although he concluded that there was no point in looking to heaven either. He didn’t know how to react when he saw these two powerful men entering his house like thieves.
“Look, Gofur, you’re lucky. In fact, I envy your good fortune.” Gofur stirred upon hearing the words of the local chief. No one said such words to him anymore. The local chief continued: “MP sahib has a proposal. He will give you a shop in town, and with it all the goods you will need. Instead of farming someone else’s land like you do now, you’ll be running your own store. What do you think? “
“Yes, well,” Gofur replied fearfully.
“Not just good, damn good!” It was the first time the man from MP sahib spoke. Gofur wasn’t so sure he owned a shop in town.
“But you will have to do one thing,” the chef said.
“A very minor little thing,” added the MP’s man. Silently, Gofur waited, still wary of the offer.
“You only have to point the finger at Monsur Mullah as the culprit of your son’s murder. We will do the rest. You only have to go to the police station tomorrow and accuse Monsur Mullah’s men. We fill in the rest of the story. You won’t have to do anything else.
“And don’t you dare tell anyone what we asked you to do here. People might understand what’s going on, but it doesn’t matter as long as you keep your mouth shut,” the local chief added .
“Sir, can I take a few days to think about it?” Gofur asked.
“We didn’t come here to give you time to think! We didn’t come here to ask your permission. This is the order of the deputy sahib. We came here to tell you what to do.” The leaders left as they had entered – in silence. Gofur’s wife had hidden in a corner and heard everything. Otherwise, Gofur could have made the whole episode look like a nightmare and put it behind him.
“Let’s sell our land and move to another village. It seems we can’t live here anymore,” his wife said.
“It’s not like we can leave the country! Besides, do you really think we can sell our land if we leave the village? The president is planning to build a mill here. He won’t buy the land , and he won’t allow anyone else to buy it either.”
A month or two had passed. No one thought of justice for Sadeq’s murder; instead, the villagers had concluded that he must be an atheist. Gofur managed to leave the village. Just then, there was another incident. A Sadeq from the nearby village was also found dead, killed in the same way. A different Sadeq. He had studied in town and had come home for the holidays. When the gun hit his neck, someone had heard one of the killers say, “Shala, don’t get me wrong this time!”
Mojaffor Hossain is an outstanding fiction writer of contemporary Bengali literature. He has published seven collections of short stories which, in recent years, have been acclaimed by both the general public and literary critics.
Noora Shamsi Bahar is Lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages at North-South University. Ms. Bahar is a published researcher and translator.