An excerpt from my new book, Military Rule: The Return of The Mandeville.
Rashid: The price I paid for the western God's glory. Rashid’s defences drained away at the mere mention about his brother. He perched on a pew; his thoughts flooding back to the American lead invasion of his country. Rashid visibly became uncomfortable as the sene in his head came to the fore. Mark stood rigid; ready for the unexpected as he heard Rashid speak. “It was a usual hot day in Baghdad,” began Rashid, with sadness. “It was afternoon and we were annoying our father for permission to go out. Eventually, he conceded to my brother’s desire, and passion, to play football. You see, my younger brother had a gift, a gift from Allah ...” “Had?” interrupted Mark. “Allow me to finish,” commanded Rashid, and continued. “My brother had the skill of all the great football players put together. So, with elation, we went to our usual place in the street to reenact his heros. We had a shabby ball and goal posts painted upon a wall. We were having fun but practising hard because my little brother had dreams of playing for Manchester United. He called it the greatest team on earth ... But, only within the walls of our home. Outside, Iraq was the greatest team on earth. My brother was showing off his skills while I had to try and take the ball away from him. Alas, my tackling skills were limited. We lost track of time and dusk was upon us ... A few minutes more, we thought. My brother had his sights on a winning goal for his favourite team ...” Rashid paused and halted the rush of sad emotion; wiping away the tears. Mark remained silent, hypnotised by Rashid’s story. Rashid took a deep breath, then resumed to expose his hidden secret. “My brother tricked the ball around me, passed me and scored a great goal between the painted goal posts. God, he was jubilant; waving his arms. I was clapping encouragement; telling him he had just scored the winning goal and he had become a hero for all to embrace ... Then, they came. My brother called them fireworks. During our celebrations, we were thrown to the floor with mighty bangs sounding all around us. My brother lay flat on his back and I lay on my stomach looking toward him. I stretched my arms out in front of me, calling his name. I heard him say, “Look! fireworks in honour of my goal.” “No!” I shouted, as I looked closer at his body without legs, and one arm. At that moment, an American trooper knelt beside my brother. My brother pointed out the fireworks. “Are you from Manchester United?” he asked the trooper. I listened to the trooper’s words. “No, son,” he said. The insult ripped through my body and I shouted at the top of my voice for him to leave my brother alone. The trooper told us he would get help as many soldiers rushed by us. I crawled, and lay on top of my brother ... I was lucky: I only had minor injuries. I cried, and cried, and cried to Allah; praying for his help. My brother asked me what was wrong. “Your legs,” I cried, “your legs.” He had no idea until we looked down together. I cannot repeat the shrill of realisation. His dreams were shattered ... his life in ruins. Suddenly, I heard a voice telling me to move away. I looked up to see a trooper pointing a gun at my brother’s head. “No, no,” I told him, “you can’t.” The trooper replied, as if talking to an animal. “Look at him,” he said, with no respect. “He’s better off dead.” I was defiant, but he threatened to kill me as well. I had an instant thought, as if Allah was speaking to me. I couldn’t avenge my brother if I’m dead ... I needed to stay alive. So, reluctantly, I moved, and looked away. I heard a single shot after my brother’s intensive pleadings. The trooper was so calm and lifeless. He told me to go home; find my parents. He even suggested that they maybe dead. I waited until he had gone and moved close to my brother. “Rashid,” I said, “I will take your name and avenge your death by the invader from the west. Rashid will join with Allah and fight a holy war.” I managed to stagger to my feet and watch the rain of bombs. After, what seemed an endless time, I shouted at the top of my voice. “Death to the west ...” “My God!” exclaimed Mark, finding it difficult to listen any longer. Rashid jumped up from the pew. “My God!” he shouted. Damn your God to hell!” It appears to be working, thought Mark, and focussed on the task in hand. “What of your parents?” he asked, tentatively. “No matter,” said Rashid, calmer. “But, if you want the gory details of my headless father and raped mother ...” “Surely not?” Rashid stayed silent, collecting his thoughts of the present time. Suddenly, he laughed and stared Mark in the eye. Mark placed his hand into his pocket and griped the mirror. Rashid stopped laughing. “You have tried and failed, Mark,” he said. “You have not angered me enough to fall into your trap. Now you know what drives me. I’m a product of the aftermath to your invasion. I’m a terrorist with brains; too cleaver by half.” Mark sighed, unable to respond. How can I blame him? he thought. How could I ...? Rashid drew a gun and pointed it at Mark. “Shit!” exclaimed Mark, not expecting a twist. “You can’t do it directly.” “I lied, like a good little terrorist.” “So, you’re not a virtual, then?” “Of course I am ...” “Oh yes. How?” “My own choice. Sound familiar? I wanted to fight Allah’s war against your Lord within the realm of the Gods. so I committed suicide ...” “Okay,” interrupted Mark, “I get it. Don’t want all the gory details. “No! You don’t get it. I wasn’t a bomber. I shot myself, knowing my own guilt and sin. I seized a window of opportunity.” “Sin? If not a bomber, then what?” “So, you do want the detail to your curiosity?” “I guess so,” admitted Mark. “My mother was not dead after the soldiers passed her through. I wept and called her a western whore ...” “Um, that’s bad ...” “Ha! That’s not all.” “Oh!” “I killed her and faced her toward the west. You see what your empire seeking Generals have done, Mark? I was just one case. Think of the many thousands that feel as I do.” “No doubt ...” A thought: Who so ever shall kill, shall be in danger of judgment.