Monday, September 1, 2008

The Killing of Salman Rushdie

Ahmed adjusted his night-vision. His compatriots assembled their rifles.

The four would seal their deals with Allah soon – unto each would be given a gift of seven virgins and an eternity in the fair land. He was ecstatic, for it would mean his life would have been meaningful after all. He had spent months planning the operation. The entry into Britain, the smuggling of arms, the relentless surveillance, and the constant battle with paranoia were now but mere chapters in the great book of his life, which was driving towards a conclusion at last. The others were equally eager. They, like him, felt truly honored for being chosen by Allah for the task they were about to complete. It would be their moment of glory, their tryst with history.

The fatwa was what had incensed them – Salman Rushdie was not Allah’s Musalman. He was a traitor and had dared to blaspheme against the sacred text. He had called their prophet a dotard, and their Allah a figment of their imaginations. He was a Kufri, a Kufr-bak. He was to be assassinated in the name of Allah, the one God.

“Kufri ko maut! Kufr-bak ko maut!”

Ahmed had been 14 then. Enraged by The Satanic Verses, he had left Mianwali village and enrolled himself into a Jihadi Camp in NWFP. His years had been long and hard. He would have them fulfilled soon. He brought his thoughts back to the present moment. Now, there was just the wait.

He smiled. Just a few hours more…

According to Ahmed’s sources, Salman Rushdie had had an eventful day. After a book reading at Manchester he had flown to Cardiff where he had been invited at Tussaud’s for an examination of his wax-double. He had napped on the flight back and had taken coffee at Paddington before heading to his hiding quarters in his bulletproof Maybach, and had retired without having dinner. The old man had called Padma exactly thrice before laying down between the sheets and turning off the light. Ahmed smiled, everything was perfect, the old man had followed his usual routine.

As history is their witness, at 3am, on the slightly chilly night of September the 3rd, Ahmad and three others gained entry into the Rushdie Compound, killed the two guards and their mastiff, shut off the power and air supply to the Panic Room, locked all the doors, changed their security codes, and walked onto the Rushdies’ carpeting.

As his breath fogged over his watch, Ahmad realized that the heating had been connected to the air-supply. He winced, but the end was near. It would wait for nothing. He prayed for history to fail in acknowledging his error.

Ahmed and another entered into Rushdie’s sleeping quarters, while two kept guard outside the room. Ahmed pulled back the covers. He wasn’t there. Ahmed did not panic.

It had been a good idea to use the Sonar mapping. The door to the real sleeping quarters was concealed in the wall to the right. He slid it open and guided the other in.

The room was lit. The bed was empty. Allah.

Footsteps down the staircase, the others are nowhere to be seen, surprised, Ahmed starts, runs for the stairs, squinting through the night-vision… Rustling in the Kitchen, he makes for the sound… the door to the study opens and shuts… Just then, Ahmed is astonished at how everything seems just out of his control, just on the outer edge of his command… but senses seem to boil and fizzle out… reality begins to blot out into whiteness, his vision starts to shake crazily like a camera’s… through sheer will he forces open the study door and finds it empty, but for a book lying open on the floor… and then all goes black, as he drops out of existence, out of history…

Rushdie yawns and stretches himself. It has been a tough night. He’s bored of the assassination attempts, and this one was a close shave. He and his magic are getting old. He caps his pen and closes his notebook. He’s tired, and he wants the heating on. Writing himself out of history, and back, is tiring enough.


Ko said...

*clap clap*
he still calls on padma??? haven't they like broken up?

Vinayak said...

okay man this i liked... very readings gone to the dumps and now all i got is my writing but this was a wonderful read...

Mohit Rodeja said...

@ko - exactly.
they've broken up.

@vinayak - read!
reading saves brain!