Mus’ab stands on the field, looking out into a distant mirage. The heat is lethal.. He wipes the sweat off his forehead, and aims his bow into the horizon and releases.. Frustration.
‘Maybe I should just give up,’ he thinks to himself. ‘This is what You want! Do You enjoy the power You have over us? Huh?!’, he yells out to the sky. God has forsaken him and his people.
It has been dry for almost three months now, not a single drop of rainfall. The streams are drying, and the little game native to his region has migrated to greener pastures. He can’t remember the taste of meat because he sold his livestock when the drought started. What he got for the hoard has eventually dwindled away in his drinking and whoring.
Back at home, his wife sits with her face in her palms. She has her rosary in hand, saying prayers. Mus’ab’s faith is fading. He is constantly angry and she fears he will become destructive, harm her. He lashes out, he stopped praying and prefers to go out and be alone. In this heat, he could easily get a stroke.
Subhanallah. Alhamdulillah. La Ilaha illa Lah. Allahuakbar.
The rock is getting too hot to sit on, and Mus’ab is now a little dizzy. His camel skin sack is now empty and the thirst scratches at his throat like a mixture of salt and sand. He swallows.
A vulture is now hovering above him. In it’s beak, is what seems to be the insides of a kill. Angry and hungry, he aims for the bird’s eye and hits.
He slowly walks over, kicks the animal away and reaches for the stash in it’s beak and carefully examines it. Heart, liver, and intestines of a small creature that could be a baby goat, but he’s not sure.
He wraps the meat in his scarf, and struts home energetically.
‘Woman, take this and prepare something for dinner,’ he commands while taking his shoes off.
He brought sand in with him from outside but Maryam knows better than to complain. She receives the meat and heads off to the back of the house, where the kitchen and kiln are.
She cleans the meat without question, prepares a recipe that she hopes would appease her husband.
The sweet scent finds its way into the house, sautéed onions, the sizzling of meat on the pan, spices and herbs, saffron, lemon.. The food is ready and is served.
They both relish the wonderful taste of the meat. It is sweet, fragrant.. Nothing they’ve ever had before. Mus’ab is pleased, and after cleaning he takes his wife to bed.
The rains came. The village is green again. Trade is back to normal, and Mus’ab managed to get a new herd of goats and a few chicken.
His fascination for food took a turn after that meal Maryam prepared. Nothing tastes the same.
He shouts at her, tells her she’s useless. She can’t cook anymore. He eats in other women’s houses while their men are away, but Maryam stays quiet and prays. He can’t satisfy his appetite, nothing tastes as good as that meat.
Goat, cow, camel, chicken and even wild game from distant places, nothing can satisfy his palette. It’s been almost a year now, and it becomes and obsession and he seems to be going mad.
He decides to go back to the field and hunt.
It’s hard to believe that this green haven was once a dying piece of land a year ago. He sits, and contemplates about the trouble God has put him through in this life. His wife is now getting old and ugly, his wealth never lasts. His thirst for alcohol and meat is never satisfied, for he was created greedy and vile, and he accepts his nature.
His thoughts are now disrupted by the humming of a familiar tune, a song he’d sing as a child:
‘Tic tic tic, Suleiman’s mother
Tic Tic Tic where was your husband?
Tic Tic Tic he was in the fields
Picking plums and pomegranates’.
A beautiful little girl now emerges, with red fingers, palms and lips as she chews on the succulent pomegranate fruit. She turns to Mus’ab, and smiles at him. Her blue eyes pierce through his soul, and ignites a spark that had been long gone. He smiles back, and without thinking takes aim and shoots.