See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s different tales.
This is a multi-chapter novel. Chapters: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21
“We’ll make our own reality from now on. As a family.” – Omar
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By the time he crossed the Bridge of the Americas, it had begun to rain. The downpour thickened by the minute, and when he pulled into his personal driveway he sighed with reduction and forged his gratitude to Allah, saying, “Ayiboona, taiboona, abidoona, li rabbina hamidoon.” We return repenting, worshiping, and thanking our Lord.
He discovered Samia within the bed room armchair along with her headset on. She stood and embraced him.
“What are you listening to?”
“Youtube lecture on the philosophy of immortality. He points out that people want to live forever, but they don’t know what to do with themselves when they have a little free time. They talk about passing time, killing time. How did it go for you?”
Omar fell onto the mattress. The rain had risen to a uninteresting roar. “Feels like a different world up there. Beautiful, rugged. But crazy.”
“Honey,” Samia mentioned in a cautious tone, “Don’t take this personally, but I have reservations about how your uncle’s burial was handled. A Muslim has a right to an Islamic janazah, whether he’s been Muslim one day or a century.”
“I did the best I could. I didn’t have any control over what happened with Celio’s body. It was up to the Council. Mamá was pushing too hard. If I’d taken the same tack, they might have decided we were a couple of radicals and rejected all our requests. They might have buried him in a Christian cemetery. At least this way he is buried in free ground, in the wilderness he loved.”
“We could still have a janazah for him. We could pray salat-al-ghaib in absentia.”
“We’re doing that!” Omar snapped, irritated. “I met with the imam at Jama Masjid yesterday. It’s all set for this Friday.”
“Okay, baby.” She rubbed his shoulder. “I didn’t know. I’m surprised he agreed. Jama Masjid is Hanafi. The Hanafi madhhab doesn’t allow a janazah prayer for a person who isn’t present.”
Omar gave a drained snigger. “The imam mentioned that. He said, ‘For you, brother Omar, we will make an exception. Everyone knows the name of Omar Bayano.’” There was a contact of bitterness to the phrases. It may need been completely different if he’d been well-known for some good factor he’d truly achieved. But he was well-known for being a part of this mad household of heroes and villains, and for the bloody occasions on the bridge, which he would quite overlook.
As standard, Samia knew what he was pondering. “However this so-called fame came about, if you can use it to make good things happen, then it’s a tool Allah has placed at your disposal.”
República Islámica de Bayano
“I want you to know,” Samia went on, “if you ever decide you want to fulfill Don Celio’s vision and take a leadership position among the Ngäbe, I’ll go with you. I’m serious.”
“To the comarca. If they want to make you a governor, I’ll move with you to the comarca. Whatever you choose, I’m with you. As long as I’m by your side, I’m happy.”
SubhanAllah. This lady. “Sure. I’ll marry three teenage Ngäbe girls and have a harem. You’ll each give me ten kids, and I’ll have my own mountain kingdom called República Islámica de Bayano. We’ll grow coffee and build electromagnetic weapons based on ancient Ngäbe secrets. No foreign power will dare enter our land. The CIA will try to infiltrate us but we’ll catch them and send them home in giant teacups made of cocobolo wood.”
She pinched his cheek. “Shut up, buster. You’re loco. Take a shower and come to bed.”
“You sleep. I’m going to sit up for a while.”
He took a scorching bathe, which felt in that second like essentially the most magical factor he’d ever skilled. Afterward, he prayed ‘Isha, then went downstairs and sat on the couch. Sitting alone, listening to the rain, he imagined it because the sound of airplane propellers. He was a pilot in a kind of quaint prop planes, taxiing on the runway, able to take off. The airplane would leap into the stormy sky, its highly effective headlights tunneling via the darkness because it took him… the place?
“Hasbun Allahu wa-n’em Al-Wakeel,” he mentioned. Outside the lounge window, sheltered beneath the overhanging roof, a gecko known as: Dap dap dap dap dap dap. Berlina, who’d adopted him downstairs, lifted her head and gave a half-hearted bark, then went again to dozing and dreaming.
Take Your Victories as They Come
The subsequent day, on the AIR places of work, a cheer went up from the employees. Omar appeared up from his pc, the place he’d been reviewing the supplies they have been placing collectively for potential donors, to see Samia, Naris, and the others high-fiving and clapping one another’s backs. He got here out of his workplace and beckoned to Naris. “What’s up?”
She gave an uncharacteristic grin. “We just found housing for the last of the refugees by the Centro. That’s it. That field is now officially empty.”
Omar had determined ultimately to not deal with the combat over the Pared Blanca dam. It was too huge a challenge for his or her nascent group. For now, they’d deal with literacy, meals donation and housing the Centro refugees. Naris was in command of the refugees difficulty.
He chewed his higher lip. “Except that we missed two.” The outdated man within the baseball cap, the one who used to sit down out within the solar on the milk crate – his identify was Arturo – had died earlier than AIR was up and operating. His coronary heart gave out. And the boy Chiki, the one who’d thrown mud at Omar, had been assaulted by a gang and was within the hospital with damaged bones.
Naris eyed him. “You’re thinking of Arturo and Chiki. First of all, we did find a home for Chiki and Graziela. It’s not our fault the kid was beaten. Things happen. And the old man…” She shrugged. “Let me tell you something, Omar, and you’d better listen well if you intend to survive as an activist. There’s no such thing as total victory in this line of work, and there’s no room for self-castigating martyrdom. If you want to feel sorry for yourself, sit at home and do that nonsense. If not, then you take the wins as they come, for your sake and for the people who work for you. Do you have any idea what a remarkable achievement it is to have housed all those refugees in a week? Now get in there and congratulate your people for a job well done, and don’t ever let me hear you devaluing their achievements again, or I’ll be out of here before you can say, Wait Naris, don’t leave me.”
Thoroughly chastised, Omar did as he was instructed.
The Sun Runs for a Term Appointed
Celio Natá’s Islamic prayer service was held on the following Friday, simply after Jum’ah prayer. Omar had acquired dozens of calls asking a few memorial service for Celio, not solely from information businesses but in addition from authorities ministers, native celebrities, and even from the workplace of the president. So he was not shocked to see limousines and costly automobiles pulling up in entrance of the masjid, jamming the intersection.
It was a weird scene as non-Muslim visitors in black fits have been requested to take away their sneakers, and girls in attire have been handed abayas and scarves on the door. As he was approaching the masjid door, holding Samia’s hand on one aspect and Nur’s on the opposite, a silver Jaguar pulled up, and a jaunty man in a grey go well with hopped out. Seeing him, Omar’s mouth went dry and he choked.
“What is it?” Samia requested. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Carlos Small.”
“Árabe Unido number 58. Center-forward.”
“You don’t get it, Samia. I once saw him dance his way past five defenders – five! – then shoot the ball through the goalie’s legs to score.”
Samia smiled, then tugged on his hand. “Come on, buster.”
Inside, there was grumbling from the non-Muslims as women and men have been separated, with males on one aspect and girls on the opposite. Five hundred individuals stuffed the room, and the rest needed to be turned away. His mom and Masood have been there, in addition to a large contingent of Ngäbes. Omar noticed a well-known Colombian singer, the Panamanian minister of tourism, a legendary information anchor, and sure, the president of Panama, flanked by burly bodyguards.
The non-Muslims watched because the Imam led the Muslims in prayer, then the imam beckoned for Omar to take the mike.
“Why’s he calling me up?” Omar whispered to Samia.
“It has to be you,” she replied. “Go.”
Omar mounted the small platform the imam used for his sermons. Surveying the gang, he noticed Carlos Smalls close to the again, watching. Unable to cease himself, Omar raised a fist and chanted, “The blue express!”
Smalls grinned and pumped a fist in return. Nur, who was an Árabe Unido fan like his father, cried, “Yaaaaay!”
Scattered laughter broke out, although Omar additionally noticed disapproving frowns.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry.” He went on to reward Allah and name for blessings upon the Prophet, then he mentioned, “My name is Omar Bayano. Thank you all for coming. Allah says in the Quran that the sun runs for a term appointed to it, and that is the decree of the Majestic and All-Knowing God. Celio Natá burned with the power of the sun. And now he has run his course. He was a man who lived and died for others, rather than himself. What higher praise can be given?”
A murmur of assent swept throughout the gang. There have been a number of reporters taking notes, although no cameras had been permitted. Some of the attending dignitaries would wish to converse immediately, possibly sincerely, or possibly to generate publicity and make political hay. No doubt the president anticipated to be known as to the microphone. Omar meant to disappoint him. Tio Celio had spent his complete life combating the exploitation of Ngäbe-Buglé land by males like this.
“I know some of you hoped to speak today,” he mentioned, “But I want to hear from one of Don Celio’s own people. Is there one among the Ngäbe-Buglé who would like to speak?”
The room was silent. A hand went up slowly. Omar acknowledged the broad-shouldered, gray-haired man, and requested him to strategy. He shook the person’s hand and launched him: “Governor Amauro Ceballos of Kädridri district. This will be the only speech. Thank you.”
He merged with the gang and listened.
A Force of Nature
“When I was nineteen years old,” Amauro mentioned, “I was a canal maintenance worker, and lived in a shack with seven other men. I was walking home one night when the police accused me of breaking into a car. They beat me until I couldn’t see through the blood, and threw me into a cell. I was terrified. Two hours later, Don Celio came. I don’t know how he knew. I had seen him on the comarca, but we had never spoken. He took me to a veterinary clinic for treatment, because back then we Ngäbes were seen as little better than dogs, and ordinary hospitals would not admit us. Then he took me to the home of a Ngäbe businessman. The man appeared rich to me, though in reality he was probably middle class. That man took me in, and his teenage son taught me to read and write. Later, Don Celio paid for me to attend night school, and then to study sociology at the University of Panama. I do not know why.”
“When my youngest daughter developed leukemia, the hospital informed me that the medicine necessary to boost her immune system during chemotherapy was too expensive and not covered by insurance. Don Celio appeared, walking in out of the rain. He spent an hour on the phone making calls, then the doctor came and said the insurance company had reversed their decision, and my daughter would get the shots. Celio would not tell me who he’d spoken to, or what had been said. Just walked back out into the rain.”
“I could go on like this. And I’m not the only one. Many of our people could tell similar stories. The man was a force of nature. As Omar said, he was a brilliant sun that illuminated our lives so brightly that no shadows remained. And I will tell you something. If Don Celio believed that Omar Bayano’s religion -” Amaura waved to embody the masjid – “was the right path for him, then it is the right path for me too. That is all.”
Murmurs and mutters of shock, consternation and reward rippled via the gang. Omar smiled. SubhanAllah. The approach issues labored out amazed him generally.
He made the circuit of the gathered celebrities, chatting with Carlos Smalls, the Colombian singer, and others, telling them about Adelanto de Indígenas y Refugiados, aka AIR, and asking for his or her assist. Everyone turned him down, telling him they solely labored with pre-approved charities, or that he ought to ship his proposal to their workplace. When he reached Carlos Smalls, nevertheless, the person withdrew his checkbook with out hesitation and wrote a examine for a large sum, sufficient to get AIR via one other two months of operation.
“Do you play football?” Smalls requested.
“Well.. I mean.. I kick a ball around with my kid.”
Smalls’s white enamel flashed as he smiled. “Call me sometime. We’ll kick a ball around.”
It was a full minute earlier than Omar might moist his throat sufficient to swallow.
Before leaving, he put Amauro in contact with the imam, and gave him the variety of the converts’ assist workplace on the Centro Islamico.
That night time, Omar dreamed that he, Samia and Nur flew to California to go to Disneyland. When they arrived, Samia didn’t really feel nicely, so Omar took Nur to Disneyland by himself. They went on foot from the resort, as a result of the amusement park was close to. But they acquired misplaced. Somehow they ended up outdoors town, wandering via infinite kilometres of orange groves. The roads have been unpaved, and the mud rose with each step, choking them. There was not a human being in sight. The solar, as huge and brilliant as a navel orange, blazed unrelentingly.
They encountered a pickup truck sitting on the aspect of the highway, with the keys within the ignition. Exhausted and out of choices, Omar determined to borrow it. They drove, however simply when a metropolis rose on the horizon, the truck died.
“Don’t worry,” Omar reassured his son. “You stay in the truck, and I’ll carry it.” He lifted the truck onto one shoulder, balancing it, and started to stroll. They reached town, however it was not Los Angeles. It was sprawling, grey and dank, and consisted of tall concrete buildings streaked with rainwater. A pair of Venezuelan refugees approached and wished to know if they might get a trip. “Sure,” Omar mentioned. “Climb in.”
He carried the truck right into a crowded mall full of darkish banners and weary crowds, then down a staircase and again into the open. Rain started to fall. Many of the road indicators have been in Chinese. More and extra refugees clambered aboard. Everywhere individuals watched him, marveling at his energy, and this made him proud.
At some level, as he walked, he seen that the truck had shrunk. It was the scale of a golf cart, after which solely a big field. He set it down, and there was nobody in it. Dread stuffed him. Where was Nur? He appeared round wildly. He had no concept the place he was. Could Nur be again at the hours of darkness mall? But the place was the staircase? He couldn’t discover it. Where was his son? He started to shout, “Nur! NUR! NUUUUUUUR! NUUUUUUUR!” Panic overwhelmed him.
He awoke with a puff. It was very early on a Saturday morning, simply earlier than Fajr. Samia reached out for him, muttered, “Bad dream, honey?”
Omar rose from the mattress and went instantly to Nur’s room. The boy was quick asleep in his little mattress, loud night breathing calmly. He slept clutching a stuffed tiger. Omar kneeled and rubbed the boy’s again. Nur’s snore disappeared, and his respiration turned common and tender. He didn’t wake.
Omar carried out wudu’ and prayed Fajr. The dream had shaken him up badly. After he prayed, he sat pondering. He believed in what he was doing with AIR, however Samia and Nur all the time needed to come first. If he misplaced them, he could be ruined.
Eres El Milagro
Several hours later, a caravan of 5 automobiles turned off the Pan-American freeway onto the highway that led to Santa Clara Beach. A couple of kilometers in, the lead automotive – a silver Toyota sedan – slowed to a halt, the opposite automobiles stopping behind it. The door opened with a squeak of barely rusty steel, and Omar stepped out.
The day was brilliant and heat, trending towards scorching however not there but. Birds sang, and the scent of mangoes stuffed the air. Large, costly properties lined each side of the slender highway. Omar walked to a spot within the heart of the highway, in entrance of his automotive, and stood together with his palms in his pockets, wanting round. He was nonetheless out of kinds from his dream, feeling the anxiousness of it urgent on his coronary heart. Has he been a nasty father to Nur recently? Was he devoting all his power to different individuals, and depriving his household?
From the purple Renault three automobiles again, Ivana shouted, “What’s the hold up, primo? Did your piece of junk Toyota break down?”
A cane tapped the bottom as Samia got here to face beside him. “Hey, buster. What -” she stopped and tilted her head, as if listening to a distant ship’s horn. She smelled the air, then rubbed the bottom with the toe of 1 shoe. The highway was cracked in that spot, and a plethora of yellow wildflowers had rooted within the crack. “This is the spot, isn’t it? Right…” She tapped the highway along with her cane. “Here. This is where it happened.”
He didn’t ask how she knew. Seriously, she might have been Daredevil’s sidekick. He appeared on the spot she’d indicated and appeared to see a youthful Samia there along with her head in a canine’s mouth, screaming. Then himself with each canines atop him. Sharp enamel penetrating his face, collapsing his sinus cavity, tearing his muscle mass, killing him. He was blinded by blood, and blood stuffed his mouth. Kids round him screaming. Another minute and he wouldn’t have survived. He puzzled if there’d been a harpy eagle there that day, watching from the shadows of a tree.
“What are we doing here, babe?” Samia requested gently.
Omar rubbed his copper bracelet. He hadn’t been sporting it because the fireplace, as his pores and skin had been very delicate, however immediately he wanted the consolation it gave him. “Tio Melo – I mean Santiago – used to say, ‘The past is not a tourist destination. You don’t want to go there.’”
“Maybe I’m not a tourist. Maybe I’m a ghost, haunting my own past.”
Samia took his arm in each of hers, wrapping it tightly. “Or you needed to remind yourself how strong you are, and what you are capable of surviving. To remember that Allah has power over everything, and there is nothing on this earth to fear if Allah is on your side. And that you saved my life when everyone else ran. Maybe you needed to remember that you are a giant, Omar. Everyone stumbles through their days praying for a miracle. Not me. I have my miracle right here.” She squeezed his biceps. “Tu, mi amor. Eres el milagro.” You, my love. You are the miracle.
Nadia and Naris Muhammad exited a inexperienced mini SUV. They each wore colourful Indian outfits, however have been simply distinguishable. Nadia, along with her two children, had placed on a number of kilos through the years – simply sufficient to present her a motherly look. Her hair was hid beneath a brilliant orange scarf. Naris was nonetheless as lean as a young person, and her once-long black hair had been shorn to the bottoms of her ears.
“We remember this place too,” Nadia mentioned, and burst into tears. Her sister embraced her and wiped her face along with her sleeve.
“Qué bolá, idiots!” Ivana shouted in a combination of Spanish and English. “You holding the road!”
Nadia’s sobs changed into choked laughter. Omar and Samia started to snigger as nicely, and even Naris let loose a chuckle. Samia reached for Nadia, discovered her and gave her a hug. “Come on,” she mentioned. “I can smell seawater and grilled fish from here!”
The seashore was sparsely populated for a Saturday morning, possibly as a result of the surf was excessive, with waves rising like troopers in a turquoise military, perpetually attempting to beat the land. And they may lastly succeed, Omar thought wryly, with local weather change. No waders or swimmers braved these luminous swells, although a handful of surfers paddled and rode, on the lookout for that second of man-and-nature glory.
Omar wore knee-length shorts, sandals, an Árabe Unido jersey, a brimmed hat and sun shades. The group gathered round two picnic tables within the shade of an acacia tree. Omar counted twenty two individuals and a canine: Omar himself, plus Samia, Nur and Berlina; Nadia, Naris, and Nadia’s husband and two children; his Palestinian pal Mahmood; Ximena and Masood; Fuad, Ivana and Santiago; 4 younger AIR workers; Graziela and Chiki – the boy had been launched from the hospital and wore braces on his arm and ankle; and a fashionably dressed younger woman Omar didn’t acknowledge.
Naris known as out to everybody to assemble round. When they ignored her, she hopped onto the picnic bench, put two fingers in her mouth and gave a shrill whistle. When she had everybody’s consideration, she mentioned, “We have an announcement to make.” She blushed – one thing Omar had by no means seen her do – and appeared immediately tongue tied.
“We who?” one of many AIR workers known as out.
Mahmood stepped ahead and Naris jumped down beside him. “We me,” he mentioned. “Naris and I are getting married.”
Omar smiled. He’d seen Mahmood coming round to AIR to take Naris out to lunch, and had hoped for one thing like this, however hadn’t been certain. He was glad for Mahmood. The brother was intellectually good, with a complete information of historical past and geography, however he was perpetually anxious. He frightened continuously that the navy would take over Panama once more, China would seize the canal, he’d lose his job, he’d be robbed, his residence could be invaded, and so forth. Naris, along with her braveness, could be good for him. And he’d be good for her too, as a result of he was type and mild.
The girls crushed round Naris, whereas the boys congratulated Mahmood. Omar shook the brother’s hand.
Towels, frisbees and a soccer got here out. Someone had introduced a boombox and placed on some salsa music, and the ladies danced as they ready the meals, together with Samia, who waved her cane above her head like an Arab dancer with a sword, whereas Berlina sat wagging her tail fortunately. Omar was virtually blinded by a flash of golden gentle, and realized it was the solar reflecting off Ivana’s plethora of golden bracelets. She’d had no hassle changing those he’d made her give away, it appeared. Only Ivana would put on a queen’s ransom price of gold to the seashore.
The nicely dressed woman was staying near Ivana, serving to her unpack avocados, garlic, cilantro, an onion, a wide range of spices and even a pineapple. “Pay attention,” Ivana mentioned in Spanish. “I will teach you to make Cuban guacamole. Grab the olive oil.”
The woman turned to seize the bottle, and Omar noticed her face. He didn’t suppose he knew her, although there was one thing acquainted about the best way her eyes remained critical at the same time as her mouth smiled, as if there have been some inner nicely of unhappiness that nothing might contact. Then it clicked, and his eyebrows shot up in amazement. It was Amelia, the homeless Venezuelan woman. She appeared like somebody had taken her first to a spa to be hand-scrubbed from head to toe, then to a hair stylist, then to an costly gown store. Omar was baffled.
Santiago, wearing camo shorts, a New York Yankees baseball hat, a white t-shirt and flip flops, ambled over. “How are you?”
Omar gestured to his grandfather’s hat. “Odd choice for a Marxist.”
“I don’t know what I am anymore.” He pointed together with his lips to Omar’s bracelet. “I remember your father wearing that.”
Omar rubbed the bracelet. “I guess it’s a family heirloom.”
“I wish I had left you an heirloom. Or a legacy.”
“You left a legacy of kindness.”
Santiago’s eyes widened, and he appeared like he would possibly cry once more.
“Hey,” Omar cautioned. “Don’t get soft on me. You’re a revolutionary, remember?”
Santiago laughed. “Don’t make me thrash you.”
“Didn’t Che say, ‘The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.’”
“So we’ll make it fall. We’ll make our own reality from now on. As a family.”
Omar’s grandfather nodded solemnly. “Agreed.”
“Hey.” Omar leaned nearer to Santiago and whispered. “What’s up with Ivana and the Venezuelan girl?”
“Amelia? Ivana said she adopted her.”
Omar clenched his enamel. That wasn’t the way it labored. You couldn’t simply snatch a child off the road and undertake her.
Reading his face, Santiago mentioned, “Yeah, I thought there was something fishy. But is it so bad? Ivana is happy, the girl is happy.”
Yeah, Omar thought, however what about all the opposite avenue children promoting sweet to outlive? The children begging, stealing, and ravenous? You can take one child off the road, purchase her designer attire and create a man-made idyllic household, however what about the remainder? Plus, Amelia wasn’t an orphan. She had a dwelling father someplace. And little doubt different kinfolk too. You couldn’t simply strip her away from all that.
But backbiting was a sin, and he didn’t wish to speak behind Ivana’s again. So he remained silent.
Mahmood known as out to Omar. The males and boys had began a soccer sport.
Omar waved them off. “I’m going to the water!”
“Don’t worry,” Santiago mentioned, as he trotted off. “I’ll represent the family. I played with the best.”
“Who?” Omar known as after him.
“Shanghai Football Club!”
Omar’s eyes sought Nur and located him taking part in frisbee with Jameel and Fairy. They have been close to the picnic tables, and Nadia was maintaining a tally of them. Remembering his dream, and wanting Nur near him, even when it was irrational, Omar virtually known as out to him to come back alongside. But the boy was having enjoyable. Let him play.
Turning away, he walked right down to the waterline, the place he shed his sandals and let the cool foam hiss throughout his toes and calves. In his youth the ocean had stirred ideas in him of exile, and the determined want for change. It had been an emblem of his need to flee at any price. He’d even thought-about drowning himself in it as soon as.
Watching the pounding waves, he remembered the final time he’d been right here, on the Day of the Dogs. He’d heard Samia crying, and had gone to research. She opened as much as him about her household troubles and well being points. And she instructed him – uninvited – to cease pitying himself. He smiled now, remembering it. That had been the start for the 2 of them. The first time they have been trustworthy with one another in a mature approach. And regardless that their friendship light into the background after the canine assault, that day was the hammer that cracked open the seed. One of the worst days of his life had additionally been the origin level of the household he had immediately. Thinking of how Allah labored, and the way from essentially the most horrible second of 1’s life one thing lovely might develop, he mentioned, “SubhanAllah.”
You’re All Crazy
He spun to see Samia with Berlina at her aspect, and Nur laughing. Both wore brimmed hats and sun shades, and Omar detected the white sheen of sunblock on their faces.
“Good God, woman! You trying to give me a heart attack? How do you do that?”
Delighted, Nur grabbed his father’s arm. “We really surprised you, huh Papá?”
Omar smiled. “Yes, you did.”
“Can we swim?”
“The water’s too rough. But I have an idea. See that outcropping of rocks down there?” He pointed.
“Sometimes seashells get trapped between the rocks. Want to go look?”
Nur nodded quickly. “Yes Papá, can we?”
Omar pulled the boy near him and patted his again. “Hey, sweetie,” he mentioned to Samia. “Do you know that the girl, Amelia, is living with Ivana? Am I the only one who finds this bizarre? The girl’s not an orphan. She has a father, somewhere.”
Samia shrugged. “Ivana’s a Bayano.”
“What does that mean?”
She laughed. “You’re all a bunch of lunatics.”
“Even me, Mamá?” Nur piped up.
“No, you take after me. You’re smart and sensible.”
Omar snorted. “Thanks.”
“Why don’t you ask Naris to try to track down the father?”
He snapped his fingers. “Yes! Good idea.”
Three Plus One
Samia leaned in opposition to him and took his arm. “I have an announcement too.”
“You want to jump on the picnic table and tell everyone?”
She squeezed his arm. “I’m serious. How shall I put this? Three plus one equals four.”
Nur scrunched up his face. “Your announcement is about math? That’s boring.”
“Three plus -” Omar started, then understanding got here. Elation rose in him like a wave. “How do you know? Did you take a test?”
“Don’t need to. I just know.”
“Even I know that,” Nur supplied.
As Omar embraced his spouse, she whispered in his ear: “It’s a girl this time.” He didn’t ask how she knew. Samia all the time perceived issues that others couldn’t.
“What should we do?”
Samia laughed. “Nothing right now..”
“Can we go find seashells now?” Nur demanded.
“Yes,” Samia mentioned. “Take him.”
Omar took his sandals in a single hand and Nur’s little hand within the different, and set off.
“Hey!” Samia known as after them. “Say hasbun-Allahu wa n’em-Al-Wakeel!”
Omar mentioned it.
They prowled barefoot between the rocks, a few of which rose above their heads. The water swirled round Omar’s calves and Nur’s waist, however the rocks blunted the pressure of the waves, in order that the swimming pools have been comparatively calm. Nur froze when he noticed tiny crabs darting out and in of holes, however Omar assured him they have been extra afraid of him than he was of them. Purple anemones coated the rocks, their tentacles waving within the currents. Omar confirmed Nur a trick his personal father had proven him as soon as – how you possibly can press your finger into the middle of an anemone and it might seize your finger and squirt water.
So he was going to be a father once more. And a lady this time. The concept held no worry or anxiousness – solely happiness. He’d by no means imagined when he was younger that he could be blessed with a household that he beloved, and with work – as of lately – that he believed in. And in fact his religion – that half not less than had all the time been with him, even at the hours of darkness days. It had carried him via, and now the solar was rising over his life, and he was grateful.
To his delight, Nur discovered a stunning sea urchin shell, which appeared like a compressed sphere coated in tiny blisters. “Look Papá,” he mentioned, whisking it via the air, “it’s a flying saucer.”
Omar picked up a number of frequent fan-shaped shells and the tiny conical ones. Seeing Nur stepping right into a deep crevice between two tall rocks, Omar mentioned, “Come out of there, son.” Crevices like that would fill with water in a short time.
“But there’s something here, Papá,” Nur protested. “It’s a horn!”
A big wave was sweeping in. Omar circled an arm round Nur’s waist and hauled him out simply in time. As the wave rolled in, the hole full of water above the peak of Nur’s head. The water gushed out of the principle opening, and poured from different chinks in quite a few small waterfalls. When the water receded, Omar peered into the shadowed house. There was certainly one thing poking out of the sandy flooring. Something pink and white. It wasn’t a horn, clearly. His coronary heart skipped a beat as he realized what it could be.
“Go back up onto the dry sand,” he instructed Nur. “I’ll try to dig it out.”
“I lost my sunglasses. They fell off when you grabbed me.” Nur appeared like he would possibly cry. Omar hugged him. “I’m sorry if I scared you. Don’t worry about the sunglasses, we’ll get you new ones.”
Nur exited the water. Omar waited for a lull between waves, then acquired down on his palms and knees and pulled. The object was embedded within the sand and wouldn’t budge. He dug round it, and immediately the crevice was full and he was underwater. The pressure of the water banged him in opposition to the aspect of one of many rocks. In his shock, he gasped, and seawater stuffed his mouth. By the time he acquired to his toes the crevice was already emptying. He stepped out and coughed violently. Nur known as out to him, frightened.
“I’m fine,” he mentioned. “Stay there.”
He went again to digging, scooping quickly for a number of seconds, exiting the crevice when waves approached, then ducking again in. Within 5 minutes, he knew that the article was certainly what he had thought. Another 5 minutes and he had it. He lifted it, amazed, turning it a method and one other. It was the most important conch shell he’d ever seen. It was conical, with a big ear-shaped flap that protruded from one aspect, and a studded horn. The inside gleamed creamy pinkish white, whereas the surface shone orange with russet tones, reminding Omar of a Caribbean sundown.
He rinsed it off within the swirling water, turning it this fashion and that to scrub out the sand. Stepping out of the water, he confirmed it to Nur. The boy’s eyes have been vast with amazement.
“What is it? Can I hold it?”
Omar handed it to Nur. “It’s called a conch. It used to be the home of a very big sea snail, can you believe it? They crawl along the seabed eating plants, and their shell protects them from hungry sharks.”
“Wow!” The boy hefted the shell, feeling its weight.
“You know what? People eat the snail. In Panama we eat it in ceviche, but in the Caribbean islands they make it in stew.”
Nur made a face. “I wouldn’t eat a snail.”
“But here’s the best part. You can blow the shell like a horn.”
Nur gasped. “How?”
Omar took the conch, and turned it this fashion and that. “I’m not sure. There’s supposed to be a hole that you blow in.”
“Let’s go ask Mamá!”
Omar grinned. Nur all the time thought his mom knew the solutions to all the pieces. “Ask your great-grandpa. He’ll know.”
“Who’s my great-grandpa?”
“Tio Melo. Who we call Abuelo Santiago now.”
Nur frowned. “I didn’t know he was my great-grandpa.”
“Yeah,” Omar mentioned dryly. “I know the feeling.”
Give the Chicken
The solar had determined it meant enterprise, and was not taking part in video games. Omar was glad for his hat and sun shades.
Fairy got here operating throughout the sand. She put her palms on her hips. “My mum says it’s time for lunch, and get back before you drown yourselves.”
“Fairy,” Nur enthused. “Look what we found.”
The woman gazed on the conch with an expression of surprise and worry, as if some clawed creature would possibly dart out. “It’s gross,” she declared, then dashed again.
Nur shook his head. “Girls.”
By the time they reached the picnic tables, the solar – which had apparently concluded that immediately was a day for baking human beings like brownies – had dried them off fully. No one was taking part in video games anymore, and the group was crowded across the shaded tables, on which a feast was unfold. Omar noticed all kinds of delectable Malaysian, Cuban and Indian dishes and desserts.
Graziela appeared shocked on the amount of meals on show, whereas her son Chiki – not ready for anybody else – had already seized a Cuban sandwich and begun to devour it.
Omar’s abdomen rumbled audibly.
“Look what we found!” Nur exclaimed. Omar set the shell on the desk. People oohed and aahed, and Samia mentioned, “What is it?” Someone handed it to her. Feeling it, she mentioned, “SubhanAllah!”
“My father blew one like a horn,” Omar mentioned, “but I don’t know how.”
“Give it to Abuelo Santiago!” Nur mentioned.
Santiago checked out Nur with an expression of surprise, an enormous smile breaking his face in two. He took the conch, studied it. “Never seen one so big. You have to drill a hole in the tip of the horn.”
“I have tools in the car,” Shahbaz supplied. “I’ll do it after we eat.” Like Nadia, her husband Shahbaz was a Fijian Indian. Slender and darkish skinned, with completely minimize hair and a finely trimmed goatee, he was the gorgeous boy of their bunch. But Omar knew that as an engineer, Shahbaz might use nearly any software in existence, and was a useful individual to have round. Plus, the person’s passion was archery, and he might put an arrow in an apple at fifty meters.
“Say a prayer for us, brother Omar,” Fuad urged.
Omar pointed to Mahmood. “You do it, akhi.”
Graziela slapped her son’s hand and he put down the sandwich reluctantly.
Mahmood mentioned a dua’ in Arabic, then translated. “Oh Allah, bless what you have provided for us, forgive our failings, guide our families toward You, protect our children from evil influences, bless our teachers, have mercy on the oppressed and suffering peoples of the world, and be gentle with those who are no longer with us. Ameen.”
A collective “ameen,” arose. Ivana appeared pensive, and he knew with out having to ask that she was pondering of her misplaced son. But she coated it by declaring, “Drop the stone and give the chicken!” Omar imagined this have to be some unusual Cuban expression, however he was too hungry to hassle asking.
Let Me Try
He ate like a person who had not seen meals since 1999. Once, he glanced up at Amelia and noticed her attempting to stuff meals into the pockets of her lovely gown. Ivana seen it too, as a result of she seized the woman’s wrist and whispered one thing in her ear.
By the time they have been all completed, the solar was previous its zenith. As Fuad known as the adhan for dhuhr, Omar strolled right down to the water and made wudu with the seawater. They unfold towels within the shade and lined up for salat, with Mahmood main. Ivana – with an costly scarf draped over her hair – stood beside Samia, and Amelia in flip stood beside Ivana. It amazed Omar how the woman had taken to imitating Ivana in all the pieces, as if she had handed over her destiny to the girl who took her in. Or possibly it was a avenue survival technique, to take care of relationship with the one who was feeding and housing her.
Everyone was standing for prayer apart from the AIR workers, the 2 Venezuelans, and Santiago. The outdated man sat on the picnic bench wanting withdrawn and preoccupied, as if he’d made a mistake however couldn’t work out what it was. It occurred to Omar that each one of Santiago’s dwelling relations have been now Muslim. Omar stepped out of the road and went to the outdated man, patting him on the shoulder. “Relax,” he mentioned. “You’re fine.”
After salat, individuals started cleansing up. Shahbaz went to his automotive and returned with a handheld drill. Omar trapped the conch between his knees, and Shahbaz expertly put a small, neat gap within the apex of the horn.
“Let me try!” Nur exclaimed.
Omar handed the conch to the boy and defined that he ought to purse his lips tightly and blow as onerous as he might.
Nur’s face turned purple, however nothing occurred. Fairy and Jameel each demanded to be subsequent.
“No,” Omar mentioned firmly. “I let Nur try because he found it. But this is not a toy. In my family the conch always had a special significance. When I was a kid I saw it as a symbol that my parents’ love would last forever.” He didn’t add, Papá died, and Mamá offered our conch for meals. He forged a sidelong look at his mom. She sat on the desk reverse him, holding her husband’s hand. An expression that Omar couldn’t learn handed throughout her face like a cloud, and was gone.
Omar handed the conch to Santiago. “Give it a shot.”
The outdated man stood and blew, then tried once more. His palms shook as he handed it again. “My lungs are old and tired. It has to be you, Omar.”
The Trumpet Shall Be Blown
People gave the impression to be saying that to him quite a bit recently. In spite of the blazing summer time warmth, a chill ran up Omar’s backbone. He turned the shell over in his palms, and imagined he might really feel electrical energy coming off it. It was as if the factor wished him to blow. As if it had traveled who knew what number of miles within the deep sea, washing up in that precise spot, and revealing itself at precisely the correct second.
Standing and taking a deep breath, he raised the conch to his lips… and lowered it. Several individuals laughed.
“What is it?” Samia demanded.
“Papá tricked us,” Nur defined.
“Do not toy with us brother Omar,” Fuad mentioned. “We bristle with anticipation.” Fuad was the one man not sporting shorts. He’d come to the seashore in an costly wanting shalwar khamees, conventional gilded sandals with curled toes, and a turban, of all issues. He wouldn’t have been misplaced at a prince’s marriage ceremony.
Omar was not toying with them. He wanted to work as much as it. Saying, “Bismillah,” he took two deep breaths, and on the third lifted the conch and blew. He didn’t blow as onerous as he might, however gave it , sturdy breath.
The sound that emerged from the horn was as loud and piercing as a ship’s horn. It got here out lengthy and clear, and as pure as noon sunshine, or honey recent from the comb. Several individuals exclaimed in shock. Not everybody had been paying consideration, and as Omar lowered the horn he noticed that Naris, who’d been on the phone, had dropped the telephone within the sand, and was watching him in amazement, whereas Amelia’s face had turned purple, although Omar didn’t know why. As for his mom, she’d gone pale, as if she’d seen a jinn. Graziela and Chiki regarded him with superstitious awe. Others have been smiling with delight.
In the midst of this, Samia stood and recited one thing from the Quran, then translated:
“And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those that are in the heavens and all those that are in the earth shall swoon, except him whom Allah wills…”
A hush fell over the group. People appeared as if they’d by no means heard this ayah earlier than, and Omar noticed that they have been all immediately imagining the actual trumpet, the nice and horrible angel’s horn that will – by Allah’s command – dissolve all existence into nothingness.
“Blow it again, husband,” she commanded. “Louder this time.”
Omar took just one deep breath, filling his lungs, then tipped his head again and blew. If the earlier blast had been a ship’s horn, this one was thunder. It was the sound of a volcano ripping aside, or an asteroid colliding with a planet. It went on and on, inflicting leaves to fall from the tree above them, and at last vanishing over the waves. From the nook of his eye he noticed Nur wanting up at him in absolute astonishment, his mouth hanging open. In Omar’s thoughts’s eye, Nur at that second was he, Omar, as a baby, gazing at his Papá in adoration, and Omar was his personal father, blowing the conch within the face of the ocean’s wrath, shouting his defiance, not in opposition to God, however within the identify of God, defying all of the evil of the world.
Though ultimately, his father had been defeated by that evil. Or had he? As he lowered the horn, Samia mentioned,
“Then it shall be blown again, then they shall stand up awaiting.”
Looking round, Omar noticed different individuals strolling his approach, some from the far ends of the seashore. Among his personal group, everybody appeared shocked. A couple of had their palms to their mouths in amazement. Naris’s telephone nonetheless lay within the sand, and from it a lady’s voice – Omar thought it could be Nabila – mentioned, “Hello? Hello? What was that?”
Naris reached down, picked up the telephone and spoke into it. “That was Omar Bayano.”
“Blow it one more time,” Samia urged. “Just once.”
Omar noticed worry on some faces, as in the event that they thought he was really Israfeel, the angel of the trumpet, and that if he blew once more all would disintegrate into mud and smoke. Others appeared excited. A couple of put their fingers of their ears.
“It’s just a seashell, guys,” he mentioned into the silence. Then he lifted the conch and blew.
Reader feedback and constructive criticism are essential to me, so please remark!
Author’s Note: I struggled with this e-book. For a very long time I wasn’t certain the place it was going or what it was about, past a narrative a few boy who’s attacked by canines, and the way that occasion impacts everybody who was current that day. In the top, nevertheless, it turned out to be a narrative about household: what it means to be a part of a household, what lengths we go to to guard it, and the inside depths we dredge to forgive our household once they fail us. I plan to return and revise the story from the start with that understanding in thoughts. I’ll publish the completed product on Amazon.com, inshaAllah.
I’m engaged on some miscellaneous tasks, resembling Uber Tales (a narration of my 12 months as an Uber driver) and Haven Chronicles (a fantasy story about an immortal unicorn trying to find others of his type). In the meantime, as soon as Ramadan is over, examine again each different Wednesday for a brand new stand-alone quick story. Thank you for studying. It means greater than you recognize.
See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s different tales on this web site.
Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – together with Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – can be found in book and print type on his creator web page at Amazon.com.