Mahul’s published short story ‘Let there be Light’

It was a Diwali when I was born.

It is not auspicious. I am Ishaque Ali. I was born in a nation where we Muslims are a minority. We are, by our birth, branded anti-nationals. It is assumed we are sad every time Sachin hits a sixer to Sohaib’s bouncer. In this so-called secular Great Nation we are looked down upon as possible jihadis. Secular it is, because be it the army or the police or the leaders, we are all equal in their eyes — potential terrorists.

Quran has been my strength, my power to survive every day in this Great Nation. Discrimination and abuse were my two companions since childhood.

Life in this Great Nation had made me lose hope in living with dignity and honour. When the uniformed men raped and took away my sister when she was 15 and burnt down my house and killed my father, I was only 12. My mother was the only ‘saviour’ from that zillat (dishonour) as Allah had taken her away when I was born. I never saw my sister again.

My uncle taught me to survive. His friends took me in their panaah (shelter); gave me food, shelter and purpose.

The next five years of my life were spent just outside this Great Nation. In another nation where I felt I was not looked down upon and ostracised, a nation that took me in her arms and helped me live with my dignity. This Not-So-Great Nation became my true home.

During this period, I had been training for my purpose. My every breath was dedicated to that purpose. The only thing on my mind was, fulfilling it. I knew that is the only way I would finally get a life and see Jannat (heaven).

Allah be with me. The time has come.

It was 2 am when I reached the Great Nation. Yesterday. There were three of us. We feasted, had fun, that whore gave me a taste of Jannat last night. Today, I will be there soon. Very soon.

Today is Diwali. It is also my birthday, not because I was born on this day, but I will be reborn today.

I cleansed myself, chanted my evening prayers and reached the market. It is 6 pm.

The market is filled with people busy replenishing their stocks of crackers and sweets. There were hundreds, all around me, even jostling me, all of them in their best attires. The crackers are bursting, there is light all around. Crowd is good.

It is time. Time to fulfil my purpose. I have to make this Diwali the brightest for this Great Nation. They will remember it for the rest of their existence. They will pay for my sister, my father, my life.

It is 6.05 pm now. It is time.

I close my eyes. Reach for the red button.

Allah! Let there be light.


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