Silence. The air hung of the fresh salt of the ocean, as the shimmering water reflected the cloudless blue sky. The warm gentle breeze blew across the lazy waves, and my head raised up towards the realm of above, lost in amazement by the painting created for we weak beings, even a fisherman as simple as I. I lazily stared, hypnotic, as the Jay flew by. The feathered animal flying from left to right, with another following in tow. Beats after, a storm came, all of them flapping their wings, continuing a journey from the left to land was to come ahead. Ah, what a sight it was.
My eyes remained fixated, processing what had just unfolded itself. Once I realized it, my whole body began to shake, and fear coursed inside me, vibrating in my veins. Never in my fifthteen years of this life, would I imagine such utter destruction would be on its way.
Quickly, in panic, I hauled my fishing net from the water, onto my boat, and began rowing. My arms repeating the movement of pushing forwards and pulling back the ores, the sun that brightly shown over stung, my boat inching closer to the shore with every other heave.
Once, I had made it, I retrieved my boat, carrying it over my head as I ran towards my home, hastily returning it to its place. Stopping not even to secure todays meager of fish I had worked for, then speeding away for the village market.
I raced across the dry land filled with only trees scattered on its dirt, everything was a blur, the arid heat clinging like a kiss to my skin. My lungs like the force of each step ached and gasped for air, begging for rest, yet my mind set on spreading word of the sign.
It was long before I made it. A small area, illuminated by the slow setting sun, with merchants bargaining and selling a variety of things. From precious stones, glass, and jewels, to clothing and food. I desperately went to one of the many men, a vender with whom I at times exchange fish for peppermint tea leaves, struggling through heaves.
"Nāh, the birds tell of fore coming disaster! We must please the gods before we are struck down and reincarnated as untouchables!" I told the man.
Looking down upon me, dumbfounded and irritated he asked, "What are you speaking of?"
"Sir, the gods have been enraged! Please before we are reduced to untouchables!"
"No, I believe you are mistaken, Kaling, there are no 'gods'. There is only the beneficial and merciful Allah, none of these 'gods' that you claim."
I grabbed his shoulder, "I beg of you to believe me! This whole village will be wiped out by Krishna himself!"
"Listen closely, kafir," the merchant began as he gripped my hand, scowling, standing in a haughty manner with his broad shoulders spread wide apart, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. Do not state otherwise.”
The color drained from my face.
Does he not know what he had just said? Is this man suicidal?
I looked around the area frantically and spotted a woman dressed in both a black gown and veil, I rushed towards her, "Excuse me miss, I must warn you of coming threat."
She looked the other way, ignoring my words and presence.
"Please, this is very serious!” I urged.
Finally, she looked at me, her powerful dark eyes smoldering as she spoke, leaving me feeling little and pitiful, "I apologize but there is only Allah and no other god but he," her voice gentle and small, “and I must advice you to not speak to a woman dressed in black, it is a disrespect to our customs as those women are engaged."
She when walked away into the crowd and display of tenants with her basket in a firm hand.
I made my way to look for someone else, remembering what the woman had advised not to do, when I spotted a young man the same age as I, resembling my good friend greatly.
"Excuse me, young sir, but please heed my warning! The gods have become angered at us and we must find a way to please them!"
The young man held my shoulder kindly, smiling yet his eyes conveyed deep worry, "Are you ok, Kaling?"
I kept quiet as my eyes widen, everything about what danger had been completely forgotten in a second.
“Ahmed?” I asked astonished, “This was the village you told me about?”
He laughed, “Yes it is my friend! Now, what is this about danger and the gods’ wrath?”
“I have just seen the most terrifying omen! Will you listen to me, Ahmed?”
“Of course, although let us have some tea, you look like you need some. Not even, you look as exhausted as a man thrown out to the desert without food or water, if need be you can sleep at my home. My mother wouldn’t mind it all, she would even encourage it.”
I smiled, as always his warmth spread like candle-lit fire.
“Yes, thank you very much.”
Ahmed led the way to his house as we drank fresh peppermint tea from clay cups, the meanwhile I explained everything that happened from the sea to now. He was quiet, listening intently as we walked past the homes into the village, homes made of stone and others of mudbricks lined on sides of a road. I saw children playing outside, parents calling them in for dinner, and some adults making their way home from a day out in the market or towards a great building that stood far. The village was so lively and joyful, rather than the listen music of the sea.
I had finished the end of my story when Ahmed took the last sip of his tea, we were at his door step.
“Listen, Kaling,” he took my cup and his and placed them near his door, “We are both still young with no knowledge of this world, however I shall respect your beliefs. Here we’re a village of muslims that believe in Islam.” He smiled.
“Also, what you must know is that today was an unusual migration pattern of the Jays,” he laughed, “For I, nothing shall happen, along with that it seems nothing horrific will occur. You have nothing to fear my friend, I shall be here alongside you.”
I laughed, relieved, “Really? Thank you very much.”
He then led then led me to his house. Warm, just as his character, fresh incense burning on a table, the smell dancing around the home with the cooking of meat. In the kitchen stood a tall woman wearing a dark gown and a veil, her smiling eyes the same shade of brown as Ahmed.
She raised her arms up, smiling, “Salamaleco, Ahmed! Did you bring back the wheat and dates I sent you out for?”
She looked at me and then back at him, “And who is he?”
“Mother, this is the friend I tell often about, he needs a place to stay.”
“Ah! Well, welcome right in!”
“I, ah,” I began timid, “thank you, I’m grateful for your hospitality.”
“Hurry Ahmed, we have to dinner then go pray at the Musk.” His mother hurried Ahmed.
I stood behind Ahmed, petrified and amazed at all I was seeing and hearing. I began to realize how little I know. Not of living with another person or the different beliefs of others and their gods. What a naïve fisherman I truly am.
I placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a small smile.
“Ahmed, I want to know more seeing as how I am still confused, but what is being a muslim and why do you not believe in the gods?”
“Well, how I begin?” He rubbed the back of his neck as he then began.