Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)
Mujahid peeked out of his hideaway and saw a girl in a burka picking herbs in the mountains. She’d been at it for hours. He was trying to concentrate on his work and her singing distracted him.
He only caught bits and pieces of her song. But he knew she was singing it over and over again. He couldn’t get the melody out of his head. -- If she kept it up, he might just grab one of his guns and shoot her.
His patience wearing thin, Mujahid left his cave and stood on a nearby ledge. Nura stopped abruptly when she saw him. She turned to run, but he called out, “Stop. Come.”
And she did. Mujahid was feared, yet treated with respect. He’d come to her people for help, and although they disagreed with his acts, they were bound by duty to help him. -- It was their way.
When Nura reached the precipice below him he commanded her, “Sing.” And she did. Mujahid finally heard the complete song. “Again,” he said. Nura was terrified, but she obeyed. She wondered what was thinking. It wasn’t just a song. It was a prayer – for him.
Mujahid made her sing the song over and over again. Then he told her, “Wait.” He crept inside his hideaway, grabbed an automatic rifle, and headed back out into the bright sun.
Nura wanted to flee when she saw the gun, but Mujahid grabbed her arm. They hiked down the mountain and into the village. He made her sing the whole way there. Her throat was parched and her voice started cracking, but still she sang.
When they got to the center of the village he told her to fetch him a drink from the well. He guzzled it down and demanded another. Surprisingly, this one he handed back to her. She was so shocked at this small kindness; she almost dropped the earthenware cup and spilled the whole thing. Eyeing his rifle, Nura drank with shaking hands.
They were in the village center. Some people were already peaking out of their huts. When Nura finished drinking Mujahid raised his rifle up to the sky and fired one shot. More heads peaked out at them. With a wave of his gun Mujahid motioned for everyone to come.
When Nura’s mother saw her eldest daughter next to Mujahid and his gun, she dropped to her knees in prayer. Nura’s father fainted, but was quickly revived. When all the townspeople were present, Mujahid commanded Nura to sing.
He could see that everyone knew this song, from the littlest child to the oldest elder. He asked Nura to sing it once more – and demanded that the others join her. When they were finished, he pointed to the top of a mountain and said simply, “We go.”
Mujahid made them sing the song as they marched up the mountain, single file. The little ones were carried and the elders were helped, but they were a sturdy mountain people and the path wasn’t too difficult. They reached the wide summit at sunset.
Motioning with his gun, Mujahid told the people to make a circle around him and Nura. When they were done he fired shot after shot into the still night air, all around the circle -- but above the people’s heads. When the echoes of hundreds of shots finally stopped, Mujahid asked them sing the song once more.
Then he asked Nura to sing one last time. And Mujahid raised his gun one last time. He couldn’t help himself. He’d wanted to do it all day. He simply had to do it.
As Nura sang her heart out, thinking she was about to be executed… the unimaginable happened -- Mujahid sang along with her.
The melody had permeated the very depths of his soul. Nura’s light soprano and Mujahid’s deep alto sang together at the top of the mountain…
”God loves, not hates.
God creates, not bombs.
God helps, not hurts.
God prays, not preys.
God feeds, not fights.
Why don’t you help?"
When the song ended Mujahid stared up into the heavens and cried out, “I WILL!”
Nura beamed beneath her burka. Mujahid lifted her up into the air and spun her around and around. -- He was actually laughing. When was the last time he laughed at anything? He felt so light and free, freer than he’d ever been.
It was the beginning of the end… of terrorism.
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