The hot sun burns everything in its path, asphalt melts, mothers call their children inside, fans and air conditioners blare along the houses, I drive my car at top speed across the city.
And the dreamers walk to their mosques. The only thing moving was those fools in their white robes in silence, oblivious to the hot sun, moving like a flight of doves, or hawks. . .
As I drive past them I floor the accelerator, willing the car to move faster away from them, my hands strain against the sweaty grip of the steering wheel, I eye them in the mirror wearily. Yesterday I could have laughed if someone told me these were to be my executioners, today ? I don't know what to think today. I drive on.
I reach the mosque of Um Altubool, The preacher is half way through his sermon of the original sin and how we should never be arrogant. I park my car in the shade and wait , it's too hot to walk out, and I can never see myself actually going in, religion wasn't made for the likes of me, I am my own god.
I tried to remember the man who appeared to me out of nowhere 24 hours ago, his face, I couldn't remember his face, except for the feeling it gave me, that of helplessness. Not out of fear, for his face was not aggressive, nor was it passive however. it was the look of a man that scared you because he didn't fear anything, a man taken with zeal.
How could I see it was a dreamer ? the thawb, the looks, the wording he used, to meet my master ?
I strained to remember a time when these people were violent, or had structure, or did anything other than pray and be thankful for the hell they live everyday.
I must have slept or I wouldn't have overlooked him standing so close to me, kneeling so as to be on the same level as me and speaking to me through the car window. I jumped back and reached for my gun, I couldn't find it and panicked – he might have taken it while I slept ? frantically my hands jerked around the seat and finally found the calming heavy grip of the gun which I pointed directly at him.
He just stood there, smiling, unwavering. for now I had the gun and could shoot this would be assassin, but we both knew it was stalemate.
"You don't need that, I came to speak to you, brother to brother"
This was my chance to look at him more closely, same white thawb, how did he managed to approach me so quietly like this ? everything about him implied serenity, then what is it that's putting me on edge ? why is this man alarming me so much ?
"Don't call me that" I spat menacingly, I got out of the car, my gun still drawn but not pointed, I was taller and a good deal heavier than him. I still stayed clear of his aura.
"Come, let's walk while we speak", he turned around and walked away slowly. I wasn't used to being told what to do, but at that point I was so much in shock, I just followed.
I walked alongside him "Who are you?"
"My name is Tahir, I'm an engineering student at the university of Baghdad, I.." interrupting I said "I mean why are you after me ? who sent you?"
he laughed "I'm not part of any gang, I'm a Muslim son of Baghdad, there are many like me all over the city, we all saw the corruption and the crime, we all grew up in this city, we've seen what a utopia it can be, the people here are good and honorable, there is much culture and beauty here only if we can bring it back. The people and the earth are ripe for goodness- if only they can swim out of the sea of blood and grime they're sunk in."
His voice quivered with every thought he spoke "This is the city of peace, the gift of God, on its knees waiting for the right person to pull it up to its past glory, it calls for us, every explosion, every death, every bullet, every injustice calls for us to help, to take this dear city by the arm and pull it back up, with the help of Allah, we think it's possible"
He stopped and turned to me, the mosque car park now empty except for us, the mosque itself looms over me, a serious look replaces Tahir's smile "We are approaching all the sons of Baghdad to help us"
He's looking at me "Will you help us? "
I stare at him with surprise "YOU want ME to help you clean up Baghdad?" he nods and keeps his eyes towards mine, waiting for my answer.
I laugh, loud and hard, I laugh at the naivety of these dreamers with their hopes and their dreams, I laugh at their blindness, asking me, the thug of Baghdad, and master of Baghdad, to clean up my city of Baghdad ? I laugh at myself for having feared such a flock of sheep when this sea of blood and death IS my utopia. I laugh until my sides hurt and my eyes water.
Tahir stands still. his face unchanged, waiting for my answer.
"let me tell you something Mr. dreamer" I compose myself and look him dead in the eye "if you think your Baghdad needs to be cleaned up, then you don't understand Baghdad"
He questions with his eyes.
"Understand this, THIS is Baghdad as it is, any cleanliness is a facade, any honor is a joke played amongst the likes of me, for every bullet and death and rape, Baghdad cries for more"
While I talk and yell I feel him hurting like my words are bullets, I see disappointment in his face.
"This is the real Baghdad, this the Baghdad I know" I step up to him, my face few inches from his "I AM Baghdad"
He turns his face, and although this should have satisfied me, it doesn't, because he turns away out disinterest rather than fear. "It's unfortunate that you think this way"
He turns around again "You realize this means we shall have to clean you out too"
My heart turns cold, those words pierce my heart like a bold of lightening, I remember my gun in my hand still, I pick up the dead metal weight and aim it close to him face, though I don't dare touch him with it.
"You ? kill me ? Don't make me laugh !" though I wasn't in a laughing mood. All I wanted to do with pull the trigger and end this travesty.
Tahir smiles, a sweet surrendering smile. "Not me"
In an instant I understand, insight so clear is shocks my whole system,
Meeting at the mosque area, HIS area !
"let's walk" he's said, and I followed
Into a clear space that's an empty car park !
Deep down I hated myself for being led so neatly to a trap, like a lamb.
A moment for insight, no time to prepare for the loud CRACK in the air, as suddenly my gun was no longer in my hand, and instead is a explosion of blood where my fingers used to be.
I grab my wrist and scream so loud that I choke.
On my own vomit, my eyes are watering, I'm on my knees, I look up at Tahir. his face sad and serious, He looks at me, but through me, and says "I stretched out my hand to my brother and spoke of peace, and my brother spat hate at my face and stretched his hand to me to slay me, and my brother was not my brother"
My tears were of pain and fear. "but my enemy"
these were the last seconds of my life. I am the lamb sacrificed for the feast of the new Baghdad.
the second bullet dives into my neck, I am thrown by the force of the impact, but die before I reach the ground.