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They are coming
Hundreds of men longing for bloodshed, for hatred

By Farooq Azam
May 2, 2002
The Iranian

Yesterday at dinner my mom was watching T.V. I never listen to news at dinner because then I could not eat. There was this usual piece about killings of Muslims in India and I had to get up without my dinner. I wrote this till late at night and hope that you would not let my hard work go in vain.

I was such a sound sleeper that the alarm clock would ring for as long as it could next to my head and I would not notice it. But that night I awoke instantly and dead alert. It was dark in the room. Every thing was quiet except a lone cricket in some corner of my room. I stared in darkness and wondered what had woken me from my slumber.

For minutes I sat still. I felt no alien presence inside the two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom that made my "home". The wind changed and the curtain moved as a cold gust came through the window. I knew it would be refreshingly cold and I inhaled deeply.

At that moment I froze and found the reason. It sounded like crackers exploding far away. Firecrackers were the usual and unnoticeable part of every marriage in India. But the odd thing was that who would be using them at two in the morning. Perhaps... suddenly my heart started beat picked up. I inhaled deeply to bring my breathing in control.

I quietly got up and switched on the light. The small room went white and it hurt my eyes. I strained my ears for another sound, but none came.

"Bhai (brother) what is that sound it?" voice of my sister almost startled me. Nazia was just two years younger than me and I loved her very much. I could sense a trace of fear in her young voice.

"Nothing, firecrackers maybe" I replied."I must show strength or she would be more scared" I thought to my self.

"Beta (son) would you please check all the doors". That was my mother. That means everyone is up.

A widow for eighteen years now. My father was a motor mechanic. He had his own shop back then mom says. He died because of some kind of illness when I was very young. My mother would check the doors before going to bed and also whenever she would wake up during the night. It was a normal request. So I went and checked all the doors. They were shut tight. I came back. Nazia was sitting holding mom's hand. "There's nothing to fear" mom was telling her.

Mom cocked her head and her eyes widened. Mom always heard more than I did. Then I heard it too. Now I could hear voices along with crackers too. Voices of hundreds of men. Not normal voices. But voices full of longing. A longing for bloodshed, for hatred, for greed, for lust. I was still standing. So, this is how it happens, I thought. This is what happened during the partition. But did it felt as horrible as it is now? That was the question in my head.

"Beta (son) close all the windows and hold that stick behind your door". Nazia's eyes were shining with tears. "There's nothing to worry about you little coward of a girl" I joked to try and raise her courage. I went and closed all the windows and picked the stick that reached up to my shoulder and was quite strong too. Now I could hear the shouting through closed windows too.

I felt slight tremor in my hands and legs. They are coming, I thought. Now Nazia was crying with big tears that she cries with. Mom was trying to calm her down. Suddenly there was a sharp bang and I jumped. It was rifle fire, followed by one, two and more. So people were getting out of their houses with rifles.

I heard a blood curling cry "Jay Bajrang Bali!" and felt what true fear feels like. That means only Hindus wee gathering. "Keep quiet and pray" mom was urging Nazia and I did the same. And by God I prayed. It could not happen. At least not here. May be they will forget us. Dear God make them forget us.

Rifle fire continued along with Hindu slogans. Slowly the shouting grew louder as those coming approached nearer. Now the voices of those outside took a higher note. Suddenly they started chanting slogans against Muslims. I stared at my feet. "O Lord in Heavens!" I asked, "What crime have we committed that You are punishing us so severely?"

My heart was beating as though I had been running for hours and my shirt was wet with sweet. "What are they waiting for?" I asked myself. I hoped against hope that they would just stick to slogans and then go away.

"Jay Kali Man!"

No, they are going to come, I found out, as I could now here underneath their chanting cries of women, children and men. How does it sound? Well kill a son in front of a mother, rape a daughter in front of father and brother and you will find out.

"Kali Man!"

It felt straight out of hell, now I could hear screams followed by pleas of mercy followed by more screams.

"This one, this one!" my heart sank.

Bang, bang, they were kicking Salman's front door. Salman went to school with me and we were childhood friends. Banging went on for five minutes and then door fell with a crash.

"Jay Kali Man!"

And they went in. for few seconds everything was quiet and then suddenly there were screams. It was Salman's mother. They were dragging her out.

"There are more inside", "where are they", "they are hiding in there somewhere like mice they are" I heard many of them.

"For bhagwan's sake leave my family alone. Kill me if you want to but leave my family alone" Salman's mother cried.

"Here they are!"

"Ahh! Come here, come here, they have sticks" and I heard few more hindus rush in. Salman and his brother and father must be fighting.

"Kill them, kill them!"

Bang! Bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang!

"Killed the swines!"

Salman's mother wailed.

"Where are the girls?"

"Don't kill the girls!"

"We will need the bitches for ourselves!"

And then they found Suraia and Nazneen. I looked to the skies, but the roof blocked my vision, it did not matter. Now it's our turn, I knew. I looked at mom, her white face, eyes red with tears. I never saw a more beautiful face. I will never forget that face.

"Fee Amman Allah mom, show courage, you are a Muslim woman!"

My voice was strange to my own ears. So cold, so deep, so true.

"Nazia, you too, show courage."

"Meet you in paradise."

Then I turned, faced the door, clenched the stick ever so tightly.

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Farooq Azam


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