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- by rani drew
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Why was I being pushed through the streets handcuffed? And the policeman holding a dagger dripping with blood? What had I done? 

Before I knew it, I was thrown into a dark cellar. I heard the iron doors clanging behind me. 

Suddenly I knew what had happened. I grabbed the prison warden’s hand through the bars, pleading with him. “Please, wait, sir, please listen to me, I will only tell you the truth, I am not a killer, sir, I am an honest man, you can ask any of my regular buyers, they’ll tell you. Ask the babu who writes and his little daughter, they’ll tell you I have a family, a small daughter back in my country. Please believe me in the name of Allah.”

“Look, my good man, whether I believe you or not, is not important,” the warden disengaged his hand quickly. “It’s the police you have to convince, and for that I am afraid you have to go through a legal procedure, which will take time.”

“How long?” I was trembling with shock and fear.

“I can’t say. Legal procedure is slow in our country; it could be a month, a year, five years, even eight years. After all, my good fellow, you stabbed a man for a few pennies, your punishment will be severe.”

“I did not,” I shrieked in disbelief. “He was cheating me out of money he owed me. In my country I have the right to teach crooks a lesson.”

“Ah, that’s your Sharia law; every criminal, a law unto himself.”

“No, no, that’s not true, sir.” I saw an opening to put up my defence, “Sharia Court would first decide if my act was just; if not, they will tell me to pay money to his family. It’s called blood money,” I said, trying to take out money from my pocket, “I will pay some money to his family, if the man dies.”

The jailer laughed, shaking his head, he said, “Sorry, dear Kabuliwallah, a man’s life is not seen as so easy in our country. You can’t go around killing people for little money, and then say I’ll pay his family.” And he was gone.

I collapsed on the floor, crying out for Allah’s mercy. Let me die I implored. What good was life to me rotting in this dark hole? My daughter’s face rose before my eyes, she was running towards me with open hands. I suddenly remembered the crumpled paper I always carried with me. The thought of it stopped the flow of tears and I fumbled for it inside my coat. It was there, In that dim light, I could only see the outline of her palm, but it was there. 

It was something to assure me that one day, I will hold that palm in my hand. Always always, her little palm in my hand. 

was published in November 2018
    Flash Fiction
    Short Story
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