The Order Of The Forgers (A Microfiction Series)

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Part 6: Children No Longer

There was no telling what Sammy would do next while we were at Sensei’s dojo all those years back.

He was the most fearless of us all. He would talk back to Sensei and was capable of enough forethought and agility to predict where Sensei’s infamous Bamboo stick would fall and jump away. During some nights he would sneak to the village down below and bring back meticulously detailed stories of his romanticizing of girls who, going by his account, swarmed him every time he showed up at the village. Better yet, he would bring us a basketful of gulab and other delightful dishes that were specifically on Sensei’s forbidden list.

Today, Sammy is shivering in a corner, his long dirty nails and falling white hair prominent like an admonishment. Life and duty has not become him at all.

‘He is…a Binder…’ his voice cracks as he whispers.

‘I know what he is.’ I interrupt him.

‘Far as…duties go, he is our exact opposite.’

‘I know what he…look, Sammy I need your help, okay buddy? I need to find this guy. I need you to help me find him, and kill him.’

Sammy shakes his head furiously, pulling at his ears and wails, ‘No! No! No! Can’t go back, can’t. Won’t. Can’t go back. Martha, Teo, Frings, dead…Nacho, Ukwe dead, dead. All dead. Can’t go back. Go away!’

‘Yes Sammy, that’s why we need to get you back in tip top shape, so we can go kill this bastard. For them!’

I pull his arm from his face but he shoves me away with such violence and power that for a moment I think I see the fire back in his eyes and am tempted to recount to him his misadventures from his teen years in the hope of fanning the spark. But I hesitate too long and the moment soon slips.

‘Death. Darkness. Can’t go back. Won’t. Go away!’

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The Bedouin & The Dates

This story you’ve never heard before,

Of the Bedouin who terrifies his people so,

The amiable folk of Wadi Swaffah,

His name is Ali Hamza al-Jabbar.

 

See the earth crumple,

And squeal under his feet,

See it crumble and slowly wilt.

 

See the men scamper,

Forlorn and wimper,

As they crawl back into their mothers’ wombs.

 

See the ladies sweep his path,

With palm brooms,

And swoon in the aftermath,

Of his grand passage.

 

See him now,

Coughing and spitting,

His conduct unwitting.

 

See him look suspectfully,

At the tender dates,

Mixed into his meal most unsavory,

Of bony rats and slimy snakes.

 

See him shake his head,

And swing his sword,

At an enemy unseen.

 

See him wonder why,

One of life’s finer tastes,

Would make him question,

The sanity of his madness,

And claim,

The peace of his mind.

 

See him wander aimlessly,

Across the land,

Until he becomes the sand,

And the sand becomes him.

 

This story you’ve never heard before,

Of the Bedouin who terrified his people so,

The amiable folk of Wadi Swaffah,

His name was Ali Hamza,

But no longer al-Jabbar.

What’s In A Legacy?

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“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

-Benjamin Franklin.

 I’ve come to acknowledge the fact that there is no good time to receive bad news. But boy, there are times worse than others. For instance early in the day when you’ve only just shaken off morning nerves, or late at night when you’re so deep in sleep a horde of mosquitoes couldn’t possibly get you to wake.

A few months before the turn of last year, I received such kind of news just as I was bedding in to milk those final few minutes between pre-morning prayers (Fajr) and when I finally get ready for school. One of my cousins had been involved in a fatal accident and had died on scene. He was one of those cousins who seemed half a generation older than you so he was in fact succeeded by a wife and a couple of (very young) kids. Like my father, he spent most of his days on the road, driving cargo trucks to Uganda and back.

We had never spent a lot of time together, truth be told, just the occasional visits to their home during Eids and most recently a few months before his death while I was travelling with my father. My dad on the other hand, seemed to know him like the back of his hand. Which is why it puzzled me how calm his voice was, in the face of such tragic news, when I talked with him later that day. So I, indirectly, put the question to him and he simply sighed, ‘That’s just life.’ That’s just life. Life. Death. And a string thinner than silk strand to hold one aloft and keep it from plunging into the other.

Just imagine that! One moment someone’s here, the next they’re gone! Adios! Goodbye for good. Whatever brilliant ideas they held in their brains, whatever beautiful thoughts they once conceived gone with them. That life force and energy is no more, we can no longer tap into that and share stories, concerns and laughs with anymore. A few months later no one will even remember them…unless of course they left behind a legacy.

When most people hear the word legacy, thoughts of heroic acts, juggernaut corporate empire, a mind-numbing scientific discovery or a large estate including mansions in different countries springs into their minds. Sure that’s one way to etch your name in the minds of people for as long as there is an earth to live on, but the truth is, a legacy can be much simpler than that.

The purpose of life for those of us who are religious is simple: worship God. And while this may sound a bit vague for the not-so-religious, there is actually a lot that is entailed within that single statement. It includes doing right by oneself by leading a good healthy life, reaching out to those around with an open mind and a clean heart, helping those in need at the expense of one’s own comfort, inspiring others to improve themselves spiritually and otherwise, in other words being the best possible humans anyone could ever be. That’s the bare minimum legacy we should aim for.

The opposite of that is what breeds wars among men. Sure we’re humans, we’re prone to err. We step on people’s feet every once in a while because we are not perfect. Once we decide to do it purposefully however and make a habit of it, that’s when we create a legacy that leaves much to be desired.

Over the past two years, i’ve had to attend funerals of friends and relatives who were more or less my own age. But if there is any lesson I learned from that, it is not that we should fear death, for it is inevitable regardless of age that but we should worry about the legacy we want to be remembered by.