Chapter 4.10 – Freedom

Rakim has been permitted to visit with family for a last time before his mission to martyrdom.
Having no remaining family of his own, he agrees to allow his wife to visit her parents in a nearby village. The dreams have been coming to him nightly now; dreams of being buried alive and clawing through the earth to find the surface. He gets very little sleep as a result. Rakim feels ill on the morning of the trip, and his stomach churns at the thought of eating. Although it is forbidden, he quietly gives his portion of the meal provided during training to another recruit. Then, after training is complete, he collects his wife and son to begin the trip into the village.
He has not left the paramilitary camp for nearly five years, and the change of venue helps to ease his troubled mind. But meeting his wife’s family for the first time only adds to his anxiety. They seem very wary of him. His wife had told him the story of how she came to be with him. She had been repeatedly punished for dressing outside of the acceptable modesty code. Her third transgression was punishable by death, but her parents begged for a final attempt to reform her. They allowed the clerics to take her so that she might be given to a man who would discipline her properly. After being married to Rakim and giving birth to a son, she experienced no further incidents for dressing indecently. For this, her parents are grateful, but they speak to him as they would a stray dog that has entered the home.
He watches, sequestered, while his wife and her child interact with the family she was torn away from. They are happy. It is a gentle family who find themselves living in a time and place where standing up and speaking out can only result in death. They are victims who have drawn the strength they need to survive from devotion to their faith. They know the venom that is spewed in the name of their religion is the work of wicked men, with wicked agendas. Their faith is pure, but the sims who twist its meaning to suit their own schemes are poisoning it. The hate-filled words Rakim has been fed day-after-day, by so-called clerics, have been muted. They have been replaced with words that speak only of joy and love; of peace and hope.
Mark breaks through last bit of earth to the surface. He wants to celebrate his freedom, breathe in the fresh air and bathe in the sunlight. But there is no rest. He faces a horde of fighters whose minds have been programmed to kill in the name of their religion; by sims whose only religion exists within their own black hearts. Mark fights for the foothold he has gained, and refuses to lose ground. It is a mile-long stairway winding up the side of a steep mountain. With each step he gains, there is another after it, occupied by another adversary waiting to finish him. At the top step, he can see Ali, sending a flood of insurgents down the path to stop him from advancing. A tinny-sounding loudspeaker broadcasts an unrelenting message of submission and violence. The bodies spill past him down the mountain, one after another; one step at a time.
The time goes by in a blur, and it is late the following day before anybody realizes there is a problem. Rakim has not eaten, spoken, or slept for nearly two days. The father grumbles that he is likely just fasting before the big day where he blows himself to bits for nothing. But Rakim’s face tells a different tale. It tells of an inner battle being waged, with all sides taking heavy losses. His wife, while not in love, cares for the man who has given her a son. She does not wish to see him suffer, so she tends to him.
While readying his sweat soaked clothes for washing, she comes across a small, cleverly hidden pocket. Inside is a picture of Rakim. But in the photo, he has straw-colored hair, and is posing beside a woman of East Asian features. Two small girls compliment them. There are also small strips of paper that have been folded and refolded so much, that reading them is very difficult. Each has words written in Rakim’s hand, but in a language she cannot read. The tiny type print is mostly illegible, and seems to be only a jumble of nonsense simlish characters. She stashes these items inside her holy book.
On the third day, even her family begins to worry that something is not right with Rakim. He sweats and shivers uncontrollably. He has accepted the water given to him, but has refused any food. It is though he is living some waking nightmare. The father has seen addicts go through similar convulsions before. But if it were true that Rakim is an addict, then why would he voluntarily travel without a supply of drugs? It continues on through the day. And then, that night, he can be heard in agony, mumbling words from some foreign tongue.
 …and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…
Dawn breaks upon the small village and wakens Rakim’s wife. He had stopped his tortured mumbling some time during the night, but she feared to find out why. After tending to her son, who sit softly cooing in his bed, she builds the courage to check on her husband in the next room. There are no tears when she confirms what she had already known.
Rakim Hasan is no more.

4 thoughts on “Chapter 4.10 – Freedom

  1. Oh no! Mark’s obsession with his family’s death has led to his own. Now he has widowedto wives and left three children without a father! I hope that this “new” wife can find Mei and tell her what has transpired…



  2. Oh gosh! Hes gone? Where?!
    I wonder if he is on his way back to Mei, or if he really has abandoned two lives. He is so tortured…his obsession has driven him near insanity.


  3. OMG so much suspense and action, it’s amazing! Your pictures were so well taken, it felt real! I hope Mark’s obsession didn’t make him do something wreckless ..

    New comment on my legacy!


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