Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Traveler
by Huma Ahmad

The man stood upon a bluff overlooking the sea. He looked across, across the wide blue expanse to the sun reflecting off the water and remembered all that he had seen.

He had travelled to India and seen the poverty of the people. So many people crowding the busy streets, teeming with bicycles, rickshaws and cars. The signs of poverty lay everywhere. Everywhere they held out their hands and begged money for food. Women asked for help gesturing to their hungry childdren. Old men pointed towards their broken limbs or where their limbs should have been and recounted how they had lost them. Disease, hunger, heat, pessimism, all lingered in the air.

He had travelled to Palestine and saw women in black hijab watching helplessly as outsiders demolished their homes and lives and enforced unjust laws upon them, in their own country. The young fought back in any way they could, fought for what they never had, for now this generation will have grown up without a homeland.

He travelled to Egypt and saw teenagers watching Western films and imitating them. He saw girls wearing mini-skirts and smoking and the boys using English swearwords and picking up girls. And this was a Musllim country. Completely rejecting their religion, they were concerned only with becoming as Western and as `cool' as they could be.

He travelled to Russia and watched with joy as the people newly free began to pray and read the Quran again. And he watched with tears as the people of Bosnia suffered. Hundreds of thousands died. Three million became homeless, to freeze or starve. Thousands were sent to torture and death camps. Women were used as a weapon of war. Innocent bystanders, those who tried to help and snipers were not differentiated among, all were gunned down on the streets regardless. Parents had to make the hardest decision of their lives, whether to send their children away from a warzone or towards an unknown future. University students now become soldiers, become accustomed to blood, killing and death.

He had travelled to America and saw the people, so rich in life, money and freedom do nothing to help those others around them. Content in their world, too involved in their own petty problens, they were ignorant. Children grew up on playgrounds surrounded by violence, drugs, and alcohol. No one was there to warn them. Going to public schools they were completely involved with `American' life. Religion, morals, thought, all seemed to dissappear from their lives.

He travelled to Somalia and saw the people starving from drought and war. Armed bands commandeered shipments of food and aid for hungry children and people. Up to 5,000 died there each week. Many faced imminent starvation. Hospitals were so crowded many lay bleeding in dirty hallways.

All over the world, he saw Islam burning. They had all thought the next millenium would bring power and strength to the Muslims. Instead, it seemed dissintegrating Qurans and boarded up mosques would become a scene from the future.

He looked up towards the horizon and saw a speck of gold that was his boat. It soon slipped over the edge and dissappeared. Now he could never go back. He turned and walked away as the sun set behind him.

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