It was the holy month of Ramadan and there was joy and fervour everywhere one looked. A little girl, Zoya was walking along the rugged sidewalks. She was barely 9 years old and had no one in this world except for her father, Bashir. Zoya was nine years old and hadn’t started fasting yet. She was a pretty girl with green eyes which complimented her skin tone. Her mother had died when she was younger. Bashir worked at a chemical plant as a System operator. He would come home every day by six in the evening. During Ramadan many of his colleagues applied for half working days of leaves but not Bashir. He was a hard working man and a thorough professional. A babysitter would take care of Zoya during the day and left after Bashir got home.
Today was different. It was close to seven in the evening but there was no sign of Bashir. The babysitter had tried calling him umpteen times but his phone was switched off. That was very uncharacteristic of him. He was usually very particular about his timings. They were both staring at the driveway waiting for signs of his return when the phone rang. The babysitter rushed to the answer the phone while Zoya continued looking out.
“What!?” yelled the babysitter “I am on my way.” She disconnected the call and picking up her belongings said “Zoya, some bad people have done some bad things to our city. I have to go and ensure my younger brother is fine. You don’t go out of the house or open the door for anyone except your father. Do you understand?” Zoya was looking at her intently as she spoke. She was admiring her lipstick, a dark shade of red and the red colour of her cheeks. She wasn’t afraid. There was nothing to be afraid of. She nodded in agreement and her pigtails followed suit. The babysitter rushed out closing the door behind her. Zoya waved her goodbye as she watched her go.
It was around eight in the evening and there was no sign of her father. She was tired of kneeling and looking out of the window. She thought of waiting for him outside. Stepping out the main door she looked around. People seemed to be in a hurry today. Everybody was driving fast and walking fast and shouting over their mobile phones. A beautiful butterfly caught her eye drifting her mind away from people. She loved butterflies. She wanted to hold the butterfly in her hands and admire her beauty. But it was fast. Zoya didn’t give up and kept trying.
The butterfly had flown away as Zoya looked around and found herself in a strange place. She had never seen this street before. There were so many vehicles and so many people! She was scared and started crying. A patrolling car saw her walking along the sidewalk, tears in her eyes and calling out to her father. They immediately took her to the nearest police station. They would have tried asking people around about her identity in case she was from the neighbourhood but not today. Today the city was in chaos. A bomb had exploded in a movie theatre!
Zoya sat on a bench in the police station. There were lots of people around, funny looking people. She saw a woman wearing weird clothes and unable to stand on her feet. Another man sat on a bench next to her wearing a Fedora and a white business suit. She loved observing people and this was a good place for her. After a few minutes an old woman came and sat next to her. She was bleeding from her forehead, had mud over her clothes and was visibly trembling. Zoya looked at her and said “you are hurt. You must go to the doctor.” The woman turned towards her, smiled and said “I will little angel. I have to give my statement and then I will go. I think I know who the bad people are. They work in the chemical factory.” Zoya didn’t understand what she meant by that. She reached out for the woman’s head and caressing it said “Abracadabra! Now your pain will go away.” The woman gave her a broad smile and said “thank you. Christ does speak through children.” Zoya sat back and said “who is Christ?” The woman said “Christ is God.” Zoya looked a little confused and said “then who is Allah?”
The woman went quiet. The child was right, God is one just known by different names. But everybody was blaming Islamic organisations behind terror attacks around the world. It was high time people started looking at terrorism as a separate belief system.
[the word ism denotes a system, principle, or ideological movement]
People around the world had starting stereotyping terrorists with a specific religion because they were unable to look at the fact that a new ideology or a new ‘ism’ had been born – Terrorism.
Zoya’s eyes lit up as she saw her dad walk out from inside the police station. He looked injured and beaten up. “Abracadabra” said Zoya running up to him and hugging his feet. The old woman got up and walked out without giving any statement to the police.