BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
The following excerpt is a chapter from my published work of fiction “SAVING LOVE.” Book is available on amazon.com and publisher’s site at wibblepublishing.com for purchase.
One week after the encounter with Khadija, Abdul visited Rasheed’s bar without informing his daughter. He told Rasheed that Khadija would no longer be working there because he and his wife believed that her job, among other things, was the reason why she refused to accept their arranged marriage. Rasheed warned Abdul not to force her into marriage if she did not want to but Abdul disagreed and stumbled out of the bar as Rasheed pleaded with him. Khadija needed to make her own choice as to whether she wanted to continue working in the bar or not so Rasheed decided that she could continue working there until the suicide mission. Their plans had reached the advanced stage and nothing must be allowed to compromise it.
Khadija continued to work in the bar despite her parents’ warnings and she became rebellious after her parents refused to accept her wish. Being an adult, she had the right to make her own choice. She did not like Samir because of his marital status and moreover, she did not want to bring any unhappiness into his home. She swore an oath to be a suicide bomber and marrying Samir would complicate things for him if she was suddenly found dead just weeks or months after their marriage. He had lost a second wife at childbirth and she did not want to bring him another tragedy. Khadija wished that her parents realized her plight but there was no other way of explaining to them. They only cared about preserving the family honor and were ready to do so at all costs even if it meant sacrificing her own wishes and desires.
She was stunned when, on the holy day of prayer, three of her male cousins arrived at her home. She had just returned from the mosque after performing the Friday prayers and was settling into her room when they came. Her parents had stopped talking to her since she refused to marry Samir and they had threatened to deface her if she continued to work for Rasheed and they swore to disown her unless their wish was granted. The three men pushed their way through as she opened the door to let them in. They seized her while her parents looked on as they had arranged to have her abducted and taken to Samir’s home. He had already paid the dowry on her and they were not going to renege on the contract. Abdul joined in the attack on her as she began to protest. She was bound and her mouth was covered with duct tape to prevent her from screaming out loud. Monsurat slapped her in the face when she yelled for help as the men began to drag her into a waiting vehicle provided by Samir.
Khadija cried throughout the entire journey to a new home which had been purchased by Samir. He did not want his old neighbors to know about the abduction so he and Zainab decided to move into a new home in the Maghrib neighborhood east of the Tigris River. He waited outside as the men arrived with Khadija and he ushered them into a room where Zainab was waiting. He had prepared the room for Khadija and was ready to counsel and assure her that she would be cared for in their home.
As they prepared to leave, Khadija was warned by her cousins not to return to her parents’ home and they made clear that she was no longer welcome there. Her parents had given her up in marriage so she must accept Samir as her husband or else pay with her life. Still bound, Zainab wrapped her arms around Khadija as she wailed loudly. She could not believe what had just happened to her and she had heard stories of women being beaten and stoned to death or buried alive by their own families for refusing an arranged marriage. She never thought that her own parents or cousins would harm her or treat her this way.
Throughout Khadija’s ordeal, Zainab tried to make her feel at home. She told her that she and her husband meant no harm but rather love for her. Khadija questioned why they would take her by force against her wish knowing she did not intend to marry. Zainab brushed the question and told her stories of how her own parents gave her in marriage to Samir. It is a common thing in Iraq for parents to arrange the marriage of their daughter and therefore Khadija must accept the wish of her parents, even though it might hurt. Zainab claimed she and her husband had a contract with Khadija’s parents and that is what matters not her wish.
Khadija decided that to gain her freedom she must make Zainab and Samir believe that she would stay. She joined Zainab in the home affairs but refused all attempts by Samir to get intimate with her. Samir was fond of coming into her room naked at night time and each time she refused him, he would release his liquid on the floor before he left. Samir became violent when he realized that Khadija wouldn’t budge. He once held her throat as he tried to force his manhood into her and, when he could not have his way, he released his liquid onto her face. The abuse continued for four months after the kidnap, before Khadija decided she had enough. Samir had turned to anger because he could not have his way with her and unless she did something to protect herself she realized she may end up dead. She carried a small knife inside her hijab each night for protection against Samir’s continuous abuse. The last night was like every other. Samir entered her room and when she refused to get intimate with him he proceeded to strangle her. Khadija pulled the knife from inside her hijab and stabbed Samir three times. She watched as he fell to the ground unconscious. Zainab heard the commotion and raced to the room with a broken bottle in her right hand. She tried to stab Khadija but missed. Khadija stabbed her once on her right breast and then escaped from the house and was never to be seen again.
Since she could not go to her parents’ she decided to see Rasheed. He was in the bar with the brothers when she arrived crying. Rasheed and the brothers had looked everywhere for her and they had tried to talk to her parents but they had been uncooperative. They had just got information through a link that she was being held in Maghrib and were about to go rescue her when she busted into the bar. It was no longer safe for her to go home so Rasheed and the brothers found her an apartment at a secret location in Baghdad.
The following day Samir and his wife Zainab were found murdered in their home. Samir’s throat had been cut with a butcher knife and Zainab had been shot through the head to make her death painless. Two terror operatives sent by Rasheed and the brothers forced themselves into their home in the middle of the night while they were asleep. Samir begged for his life and when he realized he was going to be killed he asked that his wife be spared. Zainab was raped and shot in his presence before he was slaughtered in cold blood.
Abdul and Monsurat had no idea of what had happened and were on their way to Basra for the burial of Abdul’s uncle when they got the news on the radio about the double murders. Monsurat became worried about Khadija as they had had no information about her since the kidnapping. Now that Samir and his wife had been killed she thought it might be right to let her come home and maybe she could finally have her wish to marry whomever she wanted. They had taken the dowry from Samir but the official marriage did not take place before his death due to the commotion surrounding her kidnapping and with the transport to Samir’s home. Monsurat blamed Abdul for not listening when she had told him she did not want her daughter to be engaged to a married man. Abdul wanted the dowry money irrespective of their daughter’s wishes and she had decided to go along with his decision because that’s just the way it was. In the Muslim world the husband is the leader of the home. He is the one with the final say and the wife’s wishes are considered secondary or not at all. A woman is expected to respect her husband and carry out his wishes or else she is deemed to carry herself contrary to Sharia and the dictates of Islam. The maintenance of patriarchy is one of the reasons why American education, democracy and other forms of western ideas are resisted in the Arab world. The fact that Islam allows men to control all aspects of the family, from overseeing the women and children in his care to being in charge of all decision making even when it restrains a woman’s rights.
The patriarchy society as it exists in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East made it possible for men to take absolute control. It is as though women have no significant role in this model of society except that they are considered properties of their husbands and fathers accompanied with inequality regarding legal matters, inheritance rights and marriage. Dowry price, polygamy and the early marriage of girls to sustain property rights have become common practice in the Islamic world and a woman who goes against her husband’s wish is deemed aberrant and her character is against Islam.
Monsurat realized they were wrong in forcing Khadija to go with Samir against her wishes. Abdul could not agree more but thought that they acted according to the culture. Arranged marriage is not uncommon in the Middle East. Parents give their daughters to whomever they desire as long as the man is capable and willing to take care of them. However, maybe they were wrong by having her bound and duct-taped and subjected to harsh treatments by her own cousins. They agreed to apologize and make up when they returned from Basra but they must find her first to seek her forgiveness.
The trip to Basra went as planned. They were on their way back to Baghdad and, as they crossed a police check point, they saw a big crowd of people running in every direction. They had discovered a bus packed with explosives in the middle of the road. Abdul’s car had reached the packed bus before he and his wife realized what was going on. The bus exploded just as Abdul’s car came close and the force generated threw their car into the air. It landed upside down and caught fire when the gas tank exploded on impact with shrapnel from the bus. Monsurat escaped with minor injuries but she suffered burns to ten percent of her body and was expected to fully recover. Abdul was pronounced dead at the scene. His skull got fractured on impact when the car turned upside down. He could not be rescued immediately due to a huge flame on the driver’s side of the vehicle. He suffered severe burns to seventy percent of his body and would have lived a miserable life had he survived.
Monsurat woke up at the burn center of the Baghdad Medical City in Bab Al-Moatham, Baghdad. She had just regained consciousness and was elated to find Khadija by her side. She realized that her daughter could not look her in the face because of what they had done to her. She narrated the entire accident and described how Abdul got killed. It had happened so quickly before they had the chance to speed away from the bus. She remembered that before she passed out, she thought that it might be Allah’s way of punishing them for forcing Khadija against her will and for subjecting her to cruel treatment.
Khadija cried as her mom begged for forgiveness. She felt sorry for her but could not forgive her parents at that moment for what they had done. Maybe someday she would be able to look beyond their mistakes but she could not understand how her parents would allow their self interest and greed to trump her desire. They were willing to sacrifice her just to meet their personal needs. They acted immorally in the name of culture and tradition and lacked the conscience to protect their own blood and child. She left the burn center as Monsurat began to cry. She did not want to deal with her emotions, at least not at the moment. Her wounds were still fresh and she hoped to one day erase the evil deeds from her memory.
‘Saving Love’ is a fictional account of how a US Marine married his would be suicide bomber in Iraq. It is a story of love, sex, hate and war as seen through the mind of an Arab woman with the preconceived notion and the hatred of the West, implanted through Islam and terror. Would Khadija do the impossible and commit the abomination of abandoning her religion, culture and tradition to take up with the infidel she was recruited to kill? The story is unique in the way it incorporates the reality of today’s world into a work of fiction and the reader is led to discover events in Iraq that would not normally be revealed to the outside world. The characters, Jason and Khadija, came from two different worlds and were troubled by conflicts and clashes of civilizations. Through their accidental encounter, the reader is led to discover how love can overcome adversaries. The setting is in Baghdad between 2003 and 2011, during the American invasion and the war in Iraq.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Murder of Diplomacy’ and an incoming book ‘Criminal Law-Homicide.’ ‘SAVING LOVE’ is his fourth publication and first work of fiction. Follow on Twitter @san0670.