Excerpts From Book (5): Party’s Gone? Patria too
Nothing in Bassam Bourasin’s story is what it seems to be. We may deduce this from Part One of The Morning of the Mogul. Part Two reveals that the novel’s narrator, the events and characters, the country itself, time, and space are all warped or have numerous levels and dimensions. What is real? What isn’t?
In Book (5), Bassam Bourasin witnesses an insurgency overthrowing a dictatorship to install another in the name of religion. As he analyses the events leading up to his detention, he begins to assume that his “angels” are members of the invisible state police and the Muslim Brothelhood. Had he misinterpreted the cause of his incarceration? Is he really innocent, or is he a pawn in a larger game? Who is controlling the events and the characters in the background? If he indeed worked for the old regime, he is in grave danger. For the time being, the Islamist state has been proclaimed.
The following excerpts were chosen at random. They are provided to the reader only as samples or teasers. Start your morning with the ‘Morning of the Mogul’ series, now available as Ebooks and paperbacks.
A week later…
I have witnessed the most significant counter-Couvolution in this country’s contemporary history, which has no precedent or parallel. I saw the new Couvolution sneaking into this secure prison through holes in the security system. I will no longer use the name “hotel” to embellish or embalm the awful environment where I have been forced to dwell for several months. I’m still waiting for my trial, or at the very least, a judicial interrogation. However, I know that the Administration is too preoccupied to be able to treat my case. The courts will be working full-time in the next few days to deal with the issues of the treacherous collaborators who brazenly supported the vile government of the putschist who had taken power from his master, the monarch. The republic of our former beloved General President would have lasted only a few months and days. I’ve always suspected that such a tyrannical administration couldn’t continue for long. It was only an intermission, as evidenced by the cooks’ plot I discovered in the jail kitchens. So many things that seemed unclear to me at the time have now come to light. The sheep, for example, had been slaughtered, cooked, and even eaten, and I wonder who else he might be if he wasn’t the warden of this prison.
Truth be told, I had no idea that the conspiracy I could smell wafting from the cooks was so pervasive beyond these massive walls. It was insane to suppose the former president could be deposed in a coup since he was so popular and well-protected. True, I never had any genuine affection for him, but I foolishly assumed widespread public approval after witnessing the media’s obsession with him. I knew I couldn’t be an outlier, so I chose to praise him along with my bank’s boss if doing so would boost our company’s success, which it eventually did, albeit momentarily. Furthermore, I memorised portions of his ranting speeches not because I admired him — what business did I have betting on misplaced admiration for an ignorant swine who usurped power? — but because I felt obligated to be loyal to the administration, the head of which was the president, even if it was a burned head. Though I’ve never engaged in sycophancy or attempted to ingratiate myself with influential members of my community, I’ve also never been able to avoid the attention of those in positions of power. Simply put, I don’t like hypocrites who sit at every table and spit in the broth. A day ago, they were willing to die for the former president, today, they proudly proclaim themselves to be champions of the Islamic Republic, and the day before that, they were fans of the king and passionate defenders of the monarchy. Such erratic behaviour is simply repulsive. If I were the new ruler, I wouldn’t trust them because they have no ethics. Alas! Our illustrious new President must deal with such undefined, invertebrate amoebas. What would be different, in fact? The conspirators would keep working undercover, but the new leader would look in another direction. It never ceases to befuddle me to see some of the inmates act in such bizarre ways. True, I was prepared for anything from the Afghan Mohamed Mashawir and his cronies, for I had suspected from the start that they were exploiting the kitchens and the cooks for their own ends. I knew Hassan was “one of them” because I saw him conspiring with the Afghan and exchanging coded communications with one of the chefs. But in the previous few days, it was the people who seemed the most removed from and apathetic about the complex political climate in our country that startled me the most. Of course, I’m referring to Frankenstein, Zorro, and Suleiman Mughli. Three guys who, up until this point, had been gliding in a completely separate area of activity that had little to do with politics and even less to do with the Islamic uprising. Thus, in the blink of an eye, a gangster, a pimp, and a drug dealer had become not only the masters of our Bastille but also the confirmed heroes of the day, with the Afghan at their head and the journalist as their herald. I told myself: “If the Islamic counter-Couvolution can quickly convert such an unredeemable trio and turn them into competent fighters, then I’ll be damned if I don’t join its ranks myself.
In reality, it was this intrepid trio that incited the mob to attack the citadel. As the Afghan led a tiny group of men up the stairs, Frankenstein and Zorro led an assault on the second tower. At the same time, Suleiman Mughli climbed up the gutters and led an attack on the police officers who were stationed on the roof. By this time, I was shaking like a leaf in the library, debating whether or not it was wise to risk my life and career by witnessing such a bloody insurrection. To be honest, as I believed that the mutiny would soon be put down, I chose to wait for the conclusion while I prayed for the new Couvolution.
Probably, I exaggerate a bit. I wasn’t afraid for my own life (such selfishness was foreign to me) but rather for the new Couvolution, which I had not only predicted but actively contributed to through telepathy.
I went there for the first time with two bank colleagues. I used to meet them for Friday prayers at the mosque. One of them once told me:
– Now that we’ve completed our duty to God, it’s time to pound the ground. So, Mr Bassam, what do you think about joining us?
The second became enthused and exclaimed, without waiting for my response:
– Yes, let’s go. Sidi Abdullah is calling us to duty.
Credulously, I inquired:
– Sidi Abdullah! Who is this person?
They both burst out laughing. They understood I didn’t know anything about the area.
They advised that we go to the capital’s souks, where they knew of a fine restaurant. We drained three bottles at the dinner before heading to Sidi Abdullah Hush. I couldn’t believe those ladies were standing about in their lingerie. Finally, one of my buddies pushed me in the direction of a lady.
– Isn’t this big, Haram? I said hesitantly, conflicted between my desire and my religious feelings.
– Absolutely not! Are we, God forbid, leading you to sin? Go in. Talk to the one you choose, give her a dowry, recite Al-Fatihah, and perform your job, my brother.
-What exactly are these rituals? Will I wed her?
– Certainly! You may marry anybody you choose and change your mind at any moment. It’s a good marriage. You both agree on how long it will take ahead of time. An hour, two hours, a night…and so on. When the time comes, you divorce.
I was sceptical and hesitant. But the wine I drank that day was enough to bring my most hidden impulses to the surface. Furthermore, I found nothing to say, when one of them recalled the verse: “So whatever you have enjoyed from them, pay them their rightful wages”. Then he added a Hadith related by Al-Bukhari: “Imran bin Hussain said: The verse of mut’a (enjoyment) was given in the Book of God. Thus we did it with the Messenger of God – may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family – and no Qur’an was revealed that forbade it, nor did it ban it until the prophet died.”
– Do you believe you’re better than the Messenger of Allah and his Companions?” my second colleague said.
– Please, God! I’m not any better.
– Then trust in God and enter.
That’s precisely what happened. I’ve been married more than once since that day. Neither she nor I exchanged any passionate lip-locks with the others there. However, Nawara was my favourite. She’d welcome me with hugs, kisses, and the words “My love.” Indeed, I was doing so and even more of it.
Let me be clear: I’m Shiite only when I marry for an hour or two. Sometimes more, but it makes no difference. I should not be concerned about what I did since, thanks to Allah, we are now living in the Golden Age under the Islamic State.
I don’t believe any historian has ever encountered a situation as perplexing as I’m in. It’s terribly gloomy! I can’t say how Mr Toynbee would approach this tricky situation if he were in my shoes. In fact, it is widely established in our country that Party and Patria are interchangeable. Now, I’m wondering where The Islamic State was recently declared and, more importantly, where the Islamists would rule if they began their era by removing the party that is the Patria itself.
Eh! In other words, if the Committee of Revolution suppressed the party, it would be left with no Patria to reign over, which is not very intelligent. What’s the point of starting a revolution and establishing a new administration if you’re going to rule over a shithole? Since our country went away with the old government, we are now without a home. What a disaster! I can see the people around me saying we’re a developing nation, but heavens! Where has our country gone? I believe this is the most pressing issue that the Committee of Revolution must address. Our illustrious revolution is incapable of dealing with the phantom of a country. This is a genuine politico-legal battle. Nobody took our Patria from us, but it no longer exists because the first decree of the new power was to repress the party that is the homeland itself! Now we must demonstrate that our country still exists under the law. But can a simple decree-law actually create a country?
I told Haj Mukhtar about these bizarre diatribes I was having. Aside from being the mosque’s imam, he is also renowned for being knowledgeable in these matters. So many people seek his advice when in conflict with Jins, devils, or other extra-human entities. He must be at least 75 years old, but he leads Friday prayers with the same steady strength he’s always shown. He sat cross-legged on a small mattress on the floor of his tiny room, listening to me quietly. His bright face was framed by a white beard. His dark eyes, hidden beneath bushy brows, looked to be contemplating a distant horizon. His nose was long and hooked, and his cheeks were hollow and had white hair sticking out of them. He didn’t separate his thin lips until I was done talking. I couldn’t help but notice his kindness, which is very rare in ‘Ouja, whose inhabitants entirely disregard the art of conducting a conversation, so eager to dispute that they don’t even hear what you’re saying. His spotless white garments gave him a halo of respectability and, I dare to say, saintliness.
– I don’t believe your companions are angels, the old man remarked, but you may be taunted by Jins. Can you see them?
– No, no, I don’t see them, but I can hear them. Their voices are still quite distinct in my mind. It may be annoying at times because we obviously disagree on everything. They like to argue with me, but they get angry and uncivilised when they can’t make me see things their way. They’re always complaining, but I understand I’m carrying them around like fleas in a dog’s tail.
For a brief while, the old man appeared thoughtful. I was looking at his room’s naked walls. Nothing more than a frame hung above his head towards the centre of the wall, holding a small plate with the golden letters “ALLAH” printed on it. After what I revealed, I expected him to reply, “Maybe you’re the dog’s tail, my son!” But instead, he asked:
– Did they request you to make a sacrifice? Whether it’s a lamb, a red cock, a black goat, or something else entirely. Did they request that you go to a shrine?
– They never did, Haj. That’s why I doubt they’re Jins. A Jin would demand blood in exchange for peace, right? My… er… angels don’t seem to be thinking of such a deal. They are obviously uninterested in sacrifices and shrines. They are just thinking about how I may be of more use to the government.
– What exactly do you mean?
– I mean, they’re only interested in politics; I’ve never heard of angels who are also politicians!
– Neither do I, he exclaimed, surprised.
– Among all the billions of galaxies and trillions of planets in the universe, they must be bored and jobless to care about the predicament of this country’s government.
– Don’t blaspheme, my son.
– I’m not blaspheming; I’m only telling you the truth, Haj. What are they if they aren’t Jins or angels?
– Do you read the Koran on occasion? He asked.
I admitted that I didn’t.
– That’s why you’re being harassed. Your fleas are undoubtedly Muslim Jins. Thank Allah for this. Were they of another religion, they’d have harmed you. You need to cooperate with them, my son. Read the Koran every day before bed and when you wake up. They’ll be pleased. It would be much better if you prayed five times a day.
Suddenly, everything became clear in my mind. Looking back, I now see that my guardian angels were actually agents of the Islamic State. All they wanted was for me to be more devout, and maybe even more involved in the covert Islamic militancy of the time. God! But wait, there’s more! They wanted me to submit to the Emir of the Faithful even before he overthrew our previous BGP (Beloved General President).
Since I started studying the Islamic Revolution to write its history, I’m one of the first believers to have the legal right to live in a mansion, cottage, or even an apartment in heaven. What good is our revolution if it doesn’t earn us a sliver of God’s joyful and blessed universe? Indeed, I will not be alone in heaven. I plan to marry a young and lovely nymph, and with her help, I’ll finish relating my memoirs and the events I witnessed on Earth. (I have yet to decide if there’s a need for top-secret reports in paradise. It all comes down to the pay, of course.) We’ll be living in style in the paradisiacal capital, and if I can’t find a quaint town like ‘Ouja, I’ll open a bank there. We shall also have children. What is heaven without a few demons to keep it alive? I hate the kids because they cause chaos and disobedience wherever they go, but I must admit that life would not be the same without them. Not disclosing this nymph plan to Dalila is in my best interest. I know her; she would be so jealous that she would utterly sabotage it.
– What? You will not set foot in paradise without me, and I will not allow you to live out there with the first nymph you meet, she would say.
-That is completely insane, Dalila!
– No, your nympho bitch is not better than me.
-You can’t speak so improperly of paradise’s inhabitants, Dalila, my darling. They are not human, but aliens.
Then, through her sobs, she’d ask:
– Am I so insignificant in your eyes that you’d rather marry a nympho alien than me?
– It’s pointless, honey, don’t weep. In what way does comparing yourself to superior people serve you? Doing so will only bring you sadness. Look at me. I know I’m meant to live with an alien nymph (in heaven, of course, not immediately in this world). It’s Mektub. And yet I manage to keep my ego in check. If this is what God wants, then so be it. But I would never compare myself to an angel. Those guys work on both sides. You never know which side they support. It may be God or the devil. I lack both their abilities and their nature. They are composed of light, that’s why they can travel faster than light in the sky, whereas clay forms the basis of my being. I can’t even fly, and if I jump from my balcony, I break my neck. That makes such a difference!