His beard distinguishes him from the rest: it is well-groomed and contrasts sharply with the clean-shaven area where a moustache should be. His clothes are baggy: they do not reveal his figure at all and the trousers end well above his ankles. There is a dark circle on his forehead: it is barely visible, but a close observer can detect it. An even more astute individual will attribute this mark to his endless prostrations in the local mosque.
He is extremely regular with his congregational prayers. He will be seen walking to the mosque before the crack of dawn too! His prayers are performed with such deliberately exaggerated movements, one can only watch him with slightly amused awe. He hands over the money for charity with a flamboyant wave of his hands, making sure everybody around him can see the amount he is so generously giving. He talks with a loud pitch that one cannot block out and is thus forced to listen to. When he is done talking, he sits with a complacent smile etched on his face. People around him raise their eyebrows at each other. He doesn’t care.
At work, he seethes in his seat, purposefully mucking up the documents lying in front of him to avenge his boss. He knows that a clerk on a lower hierarchical level will have to deal with these stained documents first. He doesn’t care.
At home, he slouches in front of the television while his wife scurries around the kitchen, preparing the dinner. She made the breakfast and his lunch as well. She cleaned the entire house, fed/washed/clothed the baby, did the laundry, put it out, brought it in, attended a class in a neighbour’s house (on the proper pronunciation of certain Quranic words), rearranged the furniture in the living room (top-quality furniture, of course. They were expecting a house-call from their 20-year-old daughter’s prospective in-laws.), and called her friends about the committee money they owed her. She is tired. He doesn’t care.
At dinner, he complains about the food. He complains about his boss. He complains about the clerk. He complains about the woman who parks her car in front of their gate. He complains about the food he is eating: why did the wife make teenday again? He complains about their daughter and her ruthless attitude: when will she start covering her face as well? He complains about the government. He complains about the Panama case’s hopelessness. His wife’s eyes begin to glaze over as she contemplates strategies to make him pipe down. He doesn’t care.
He goes to sleep with his trademark scowl on his face, having already recited select verses of the Holy Quran (he never bothered with their meanings. He hasn’t bothered for the past 23 years. He began reciting them when he was 21. That was when he first found his decipherment of Islam).
He awakes before dawn breaks. He strides to the mosque with his head held high and his shoes making as much noise as possible. He returns, dresses for work, eats the breakfast his worn wife prepares for him, and leaves without even pecking her on the cheek as a thank-you. He finds the woman’s car in front of the gate again, throws his briefcase down, marches to her house, rings the bell, bangs on the gate frantically, and yells at her to come down. Having reached work, he storms past his boss’s office and yells at the clerk. He yells at the tea-boy (employed solely to serve tea to the frustrated employees). He yells at the computer, which is showing the dreaded blue screen of death. When his boss comes, he immediately adopts an obsequious manner. He compliments the boss’s clothing and says ‘Yes Sir’ to everything the boss says.
He logs onto his Facebook account during work. (The documents lie nearby, begging to be sorted).
WHAT IS THIS! He reads about a young university student saying something profane about Islam. Horrified, he slams the keyboard with his fist. He sends a message to a friend. They are going to teach that student a lesson.
They’ll make sure the lesson gets across effectively.
He picks up a plank of wood and approaches the son-of-a-gun.
He raises the plank.
He thinks about his boss. He thinks about the damned woman’s car. He thinks about his shameless daughter. He thinks about his boss, the clerk, the tea-boy. He thinks about his wife. He thinks about the teenday.
He brings the plank down with every last bit of strength he can possibly muster.
He walks away from the site. He flings the bloodied plank to the ground. The lesson has been delivered.
He adjusts his trousers: they were sliding down to cover his ankles.
Because God knows what a crime that is.