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Karim`s Door

by  Fredja

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Word Count: 1753
Summary: Karim has a question about Ramadan that leads to problems. (1750 words)

Karim’s door
Doors are funny things aren’t they? Well maybe that’s not a good word – maybe strange is better. I remember seeing this film where a man was in a cell reading.  Suddenly two guys in uniform tie his hands, open a door to the side of the cell and march him out right on to a gallows with the noose dangling in front of him. Five seconds later he was dead, hung. Up till then you hadn’t noticed that door – just the main one to the cell. It gave me a shock – mind that must be three years ago when I was only ten.
But think of the door to the Man U dressing room – you open that to walk down the tunnel and out in front of 75,000 people, the pitch a green carpet in front of you, the great roar as the crowd see you. That’s a better door.
And there are doors that you know because you’ve opened them lots of times and they have good things, familiar things. I open the door to my room and there is my Beckham poster, my bed, my books and all the other stuff. It’s a welcome, you’re glad to go through.  And the other good thing about doors is you can shut them to tell people you want some privacy and even lock them. 
Al, my best friend, says he hasn’t a lock on his door so he jams his football socks under the base to stop anyone opening it. Now Al and I get on fine but you should have seen Mum’s face when I brought him home. You see the problem is – well problem for some people, not for Al and me -  I’m Muslim and Al is Christian – a Baptist he tells me – whatever that is. Bad enough in my parent’s eyes but Al is also black, so talk about consternation, dismay, wringing of hands and the like. You’d think the world was ending. 
‘We don’t think he’s suitable’ the parents said.
‘Why not?’
‘He’s not our type and’ slight pause here ‘he’s black.’
‘Well that had nothing to do with him’ I said ‘I get on with him, we’re in the same class, on the same football team.’  In fact Al is the stopper centre half and I’m the tricky winger. He has words with the opposition when they try and, literally, kick me out of the game.  Not only that Al is great at maths – he doesn’t know how, he just sees it. I mean when the teacher says if 2x plus y equals 15 and x plus 2y equals 18 what are x and y? That just means nothing to me but Al can do that stuff in his head and he doesn’t mind helping me out. But Mum and Dad think he will be a bad influence. And when he brought up the question of Ramadan in June – well the shit really hit the fan. That’s a great phrase isn’t it – I read it somewhere and use it whenever I can, though our English teacher says I should be more ‘sparing’ – his word.
Anyway it gets to Ramadan and I’m taking it easy at school because not eating or drinking is hard work when Al says to me ‘what about the Inuit? ‘What about them?’ I say and Al asks what happens when Ramadan is in June and the sun never sets in the far north?  Well I don’t know but I don’t recall hearing about an igloo mosque so I said I’d find out at my madrassa. It turns out that in these circumstances Muslims can choose to follow the daylight hours in Mecca. Alan said that was lucky and moved on to talk about football.  I wasn’t all that happy with the answer, I mean, shouldn’t that have been thought of at the time?  I asked my dad but he told me to listen to the mullah and went back to reading the newspaper.
Anyway, I Tweeted the question   for a laugh and got a few answers.  Someone said that as the prophet lived in 7th century Arabia he would not have known that the world was round, inclined on its axis and orbited the sun – interesting point but not really answering the question and, to be honest, I was more worried about the form of Man U than the plight of Inuit Muslims.   But I was soon to get an example of how a pebble can start an avalanche. Which brings me back to doors.
‘Karim come down.’
‘Dad, I’m trying to do homework.’
‘Never mind that. Come down now.’
Well that was a bit of a turn up for a start – leave your homework. I went downstairs to the kitchen but Mum, looking a bit worried, says go to the front room. So I’m at the door to the lounge. A familiar door to a room we usually keep for visitors or special occasions. But it looked more menacing now. I noticed the dodgy paintwork round the handle, the scuffs at the bottom where you sometimes had to give it a little kick because it stuck in damp weather. What was waiting for me? Only one way to find out. I turned the handle and went in.
Dad was there perched on the edge of the sofa looking uncomfortable and Uncle Mehmet, Dad’s older brother, enthroned in an armchair with his great black beard flowing over his stomach and arms stretched along the sides of the chair like an overweight pharaoh.
‘Karim’ dad said ‘Uncle Mehmet has come to talk to you about your..’ he hesitated ‘problem.’
I was at a loss. I didn’t know I had a problem unless it was that algebra stuff.
Uncle Mehmet grunted ‘Karim, I’ve seen what you have been writing about the Holy Word.’
Oh, that’s it. I gave an inward sigh ‘Yes uncle.’
Uncle Mehmet frowned ‘this is not a light matter, Karim, you must accept what the mullah tells you on these matters.’
Then I made a bad mistake ‘Yes uncle, but what he says isn’t a very good explanation is it?’ I should have stopped when Uncle Mehmet’s eyebrows took off ‘if God knows everything why make a rule that can’t be applied all over the world?’
‘Enough’ Mehmet rose eyes wide and panting from the chair ‘Brother’ he said ‘with this attitude he must go as soon as we can arrange it.’
‘What? Where?’ I asked. I looked desperately at my father.
He had his eyes on the carpet ‘To a very good school in Pakistan’ he said.
I’m not thirteen anymore. I went out through that slightly battered old door ten years ago and I haven’t been back since.
I’d been to Pakistan before. When I was eleven the whole family went back to what mum and dad called ‘home’. It was hot, dusty and full of people I didn’t know. Very friendly and exciting for a while but I was glad to come back . I mean, we’d bought Rooney so I wanted to see him and Ronaldo play together.  But I wasn’t as glad as Shona. She’s my sister and three years older than me. She was really tense until the plane got off the ground. I thought it was because she hadn’t been able to get out much being stuck with the women all the time. But she told me later that she thought she might have to get married. Apparently mum said she was too young and got a few years reprieve.
So when I heard my parents arguing and mum saying ‘how can you make me choose between my children’ though I didn’t make much sense of it then later I thought dad must have said either Shona goes back to get married or Karim goes to school.  So mum chose what she thought was the lesser of two evils.
The school was very different to England. No girls for a start. And a lot of religious stuff. I keet in touch with Al over the internet – pity about Moyes – Al’s doing a Phd in something scientific. At school we got a lot of talks from guys going on about the struggle – charismatic men – and they did make it seem the most exciting and glorious adventure.  Which is why I’m here and I can tell you Syria gets even hotter than Pakistan.  We’ve made good progress in the last few weeks – mainly because people are so scared when they hear we’re coming they just up sticks and go. The commander doesn’t really trust me. When we’d rounded up a few people at the last village he had us shoot them all – women, kids, the lot. I said my gun had jammed. I not sure he believed me – he’ll put me to the test soon I can tell – make me personally shoot a few prisoners to prove my loyalty.
We’ve been pinned down for a while at this small town. Some of the Kurdish troops are here and they’re no pushover.  There’s been no firing for an hour now and the commander thinks they may have retreated so he’s sent me to have a recce.  I’ve found a good spot beside a ruined house. I could see some movement near a wall and there’s the glint of a gun further into the town.
I get back to the commander.  ‘Looks very quiet I say. They must have gone.’ He grins at me ‘See. They’re cowards. Run as soon as we turn up.’  So he picks up his gun and walks out into the open.
They’re on the ball those Kurds. Took him out before he’d gone five yards. We’ve moved back until we sort out what to do next. The drones are getting to us now though.  You can hear them way up, searching.  I’ve got this app on my phone.  It pings out a gps code – accurate to within a couple of metres apparently.  So I just walk to the supply dump. Make a call and be sure to be somewhere else when I hear the drone.
Al’s in MI6 now and he’s made a vow – I get the best season ticket at Old Trafford when I’m out of this shit hole. The door to the premium seats is what I’ll be going through – sitting next to old Fergie.