MALABAR AFLAME : Lesson 32 – (Karoor Soman)

Amazon Best Selling Novel “Malabar A Flame” in Lima World Library

32. Home coming

When Alhaji returned to his home in the early hours, a
large crowd had gathered in front of it. The word spread like
wild fire when early morning bulletins broke the news that a
young award winning engineer, born and brought up in East
Ham, had been arrested in the night for suspected building
of a bomb that could blast the inaugural train between
Britain and Europe being flagged off by Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth at 2 in the afternoon. It also spoke of suspected
links of Eurosceptics behind the scheme. Scotland Yard
has ordered nationwide arrests of suspects from London,
Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
The bulletin showed images of Akbar being rushed
to Ashford where he had intended to plant a devastating
chemical bomb that could go off with an electronic trigger.
The bulletin also showed parts of East Ham including the
Muslim masjid and the home of Alihaji from where the young
man was taken into custody by a crack team of Scotland Yard
in the dead of night. The camera then veered to a bomb
expert in the team who explained how advanced the bomb
was and how they found the wizard of an engineer giving
final touches to his gadget before planting it somewhere near
Ashford, the last point from which the Eurostar entered the
50-km undersea tunnel before emerging in Calais on the
western coast of in France. The police was also investigatingthe young man’s frequent visits to Kashmir to meet leaders
of the conspiracy that had links with international jihadists.
The crowd waited anxiously for Alihaji to open his mind.
They wanted to hear what he felt of his own son scheming
a diabolic act which would have blasted the life of many
faithful living right around the masjid in East Ham. Alihaji
stood before them unruffled. More like a bruised beast.
“What has happened has happened. You must know that
it was I, this humble servant of Alla, servant of Islam and
servant of all believing Muslims in this crowd, who went
to the authorities to tip off the conspiracy. I tipped off my
own son. You could not convict me to capital punishment
because I did not kill anyone. The maximum punishment is
the jail for some years in this country. There is no clause in
your penal code for capital punishment” He told them in one
The crowd listened to him in abject silence. Finally
someone in the crowd spoke aloud, “Haji, what would
happen to the Muslim community in this country? What
would happen to all of us? Would not the government
suspect the community itself is part of the conspiracy?”
Alihaji shouted back in equal ferocity.“My son is a
terrorist. Member of a terrorist outfit that could have
international connections. Remember it was I who brought
the police. He was cheating not only us but Allah too. He
betrayed all of us. All Muslims in Britain. He was a traitor!”.
‘Traitor, traitor!” there was a chorus. “Allahoo Akbar. Was
he a terrorist? How can we believe? Did he not do niskar’
with us? Did he not help the poor financially? How can theson of an Imam do such things?” again they asked.
As the questions and answers were being exchanged, a
few media vans surged in and stopped. Cameramen rushed
out to focus on the speaker and the milling crowd.
“Think, I myself tipped my own son to the authorities.
He was a terrorist who betrayed all of us. He betrayed Allah.
He betrayed all Muslim faithful. No real Muslim could be
a terrorist in this land of believers, cradle of democracy,
land of freedom, land that welcomes people of all colours,
languages and faith. A true believer could not ever become a
terrorist,”. The reporters lapped up the Imam’s words. Some
had their antennae revved up for live coverage..
Someone among the faithfuls cried : “Haji, we thank you
for saving our brothers and sisters who are travelling on
that train. Some of the passengers belong to this very place.
Some are sons and daughters of some of us. Thank you for
saving them at the cost of your own son We thank you for
the modern living sacrifice that reminds one of the great
sacrifice of Ibrahim who raised his sword on his own son.
Do we not celebrate it at Eid-ul-Fitr? Don’t we celebrate it at
Mecca? Did you not Haji?”.
Alihaji stood there bowing his head at his followers. His
fading white hairs and foamy white beard swayed in the cool
breeze of the fading winter. Spring was fast approaching, he
thought. The remaining leaves of maple trees started falling
down. Haji looked up. Rays of the Sun was peeping through
the bare branches of the maple trees.
The crowd dispersed. So did the cameras. Nabeesa was ready to receive her son’s father to her chamber. She had not
slept in the night after her son was taken away by the police.
She was left helpless when Jamal refused to come to comfort
She had stood in front of her house listening to what her
husband was telling the crowds. What she heard appeared to
sooth her tormented psyche. Yes a true Muslim could not be
a terrorist. A devout Muslim could not betray the teachings
of the Quran or the prophet. Alihaji’s words reverberated in
her mind.
Alihaji saw the remains of whisky left on the table of his
chamber. He called Nabeesa in to his room and asked her
to take it away and throw it out. Check if there are any more
bottles. Destroy all. I don’t want it any of it any more. I have
decided to live the rest of my life as a true believer. I will do as
I preach, ” he told her.
He was too weary to speak any more. The arduous walk
to Antony’s place in rainy night. The sleepless night when
he waited for Danny to arrive and take action to prevent the
catastrophe. The thought of a horrendous explosion that
could have destroyed many lives. He fell it a sleep, Nabeesa
withdrew from his chamber to her own private sorrows.
The Eurostar was ready at St Pancras. As soon as the
Queen raised the green flag, the new most modern train
started to move. Because of security reasons only selected
invitees were allowed to be on platform number one. The
security people both in uniform and not walked the plat
form with their walky talkies in tandem. The police rest their
hands on their holster to shoot immediately at any suspiciousmovement. But nothing marred the take off.
The swanky Eurostar soon raised its speed to more than
200 km per hour (though the maximum is 300 km) and sped
like a bullet towards its first stop at Ebbsfleet, exactly 17
minutes from St Pancras. The stop was just for 2 minutes.
There were a few passengers to join the inaugural trip. Then
it sped to the second international stop of Stratford and then
toward the third and last stop at Ashford before leaving the
landmass of England for the Channel tunnel.
Ashford International terminal also had a smooth run.
There also a few passengers waited to board. In two minutes,
Ashford also was over. The train then was speeding towards
Folkstone, the last point in England before it entered the
Channel Tunnel before entering the Channel. Five minutes
after leaving Ashford and 10 minutes before Folkstone,
there was a terrific explosion on the track that broke the lines
and the engine derailed and the 18 coaches speeding behind
it crashed into it one after another. The engine got fire and
amidst the billowing smoke, cries of “Oh my God, Oh my
God” rose from a thousand throats in unison. Nobody could
hear them in the deafening explosion and confusion.
“Oh my God, Oh Allah the merciful,” Alihaji suddenly
woke up from his nightmare. It took some time for him to
realize that he was in deep sleep for almost an hour. He called
Nabeesa and she rushed to him.
Antony and Mary sat glued to the television ever since
they woke up in the morning. The screaming headlines in
The Times and the streamers and breaking headlines in the
TV bulletins were riveting. Danny felt lucky that he and his company were spared by the newshound though he
was instrumental in relaying the bomb scare to the police.
Rachel joined Mary to thank God for sparing Danny from
the publicity. Though it was Rachel who relayed the news of
Akbar’s arrest to Sara and her husband.
Exactly at 2 in the afternoon Her Majesty the Queen
arrived at St Pancras International to flag of the first train
to Europe. History was being made when the conch-shaped
engine drew a thousand passengers on the newly laid tracks
well past Ebbsfleet, Stratford and Ashford. To make the
historic journey under the Channel linking the Island nation
with Europe and opening the way for a revival of the old
Orient Express linking the East and the West. And then
linked to the Trans-Siberian railway, it could one day reach
Beijing and from there to Guangzhou and Shanghai and
from there ultimately to Singapore. Who said the East was
east and the east was west and the twine shall never meet?
As soon as Alihaji woke up the phone rang. He took it up
and said “Hello this Haji speaking,”. Just then a car drove to
the front of his house. To Ali’s surprise, Aiysha alighted from
the car and walked up to the front. Ali rose from his bed and
stood there in disbelief,
There was a lanky young man behind her. It was Abu with
his young son Najeeb hanging on his daddy’s hand. His wife
Nimmi was a little far behind. She was carrying her young
daughter. A chirpy cute little one.




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