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Thursday, May 14, 2015

THE HEAVENSGATE SCANDAL: A Short Story by Vivek Pereira

(A Political Satire as it first appeared on and in 'Rose Gardens and Minefields', a literary bhel puri published in 2010)

It was a hot flinter aftermoon on the Planet Zrrxy. The God shield had been switched on while the Tellicans discussed a top-secret mission. This shield was used by the inhabitants to ward off the presence of the almighty from the vicinity of their planet. Nothing, no sound, light or matter could penetrate this shield. It was the ultimate invention.

The Tellicans were a creative race whose influence had spread throughout the universe. There are many wild rumors about this ambitious race. Some say that they are the aliens who hover over earth in flying saucers with the intention of monitoring the progress of humanity on the planet. Some even say that the Supreme Being was created by this technologically advanced race. These Tellicans were alleged to possess the most dangerous of all inventions viz. The Universe Reverser. This device could reverse the effect of the Big Bang such that the whole Universe would collapse into a tiny, primeval atom, and ultimately into nothingness. The dark angels of Satan were desperately plotting to steal the Universe Reverser from them.

The Tellicans had borrowed the concept of the Internet in the development of the Universenet which linked almost all intelligent life forms that existed throughout the world. Tellica, their cyberwebsite, was the most popular site which specialised in webcasting universal news.

At length, the Tellicans had finished their intense discussion. The God shield was off. Nobody, not even the almighty, was aware of what had transpired during the meeting (except for the Tellicans, of course).

The Gates of Heaven are enormous structures that prevent the extremely sinful from entering that cherished place. These gates were made up of Kryptonite which is widely considered to be the strongest element in the Universe. When the devils bombarded these solid gates, the ammunition had bounced off harmlessly into the dark void. The living dead formed a never-ending queue down the long, spiral staircase which originated at The Limbo. The supervisas were issued by the ministry only to those who had passed the test of life. A special supercomputer processed the track record of each individual case with the help of a complicated software program, 'The Morality Examiner'. A report was instantly generated that decided the outcome of each case. The supervisas were issued only if the results of the reports were positive.

"I'm sorry, but we cannot give you the visa," St. Jitley told a living dead, "You will have to go to Hell !"

The report had clearly indicated that the applicant had failed the test miserably. The applicant refused to budge an inch. He gave a sheepish smile and winked.

"What do you want?" asked St. Jitley. "You will have to go away."
 "Yeah, yeah," said the applicant, absolutely out of context.
 "Then why don't you?" 
"Okay, what?"
 "Yeah, Yeah" 
"You must be crazy."
 "yeah, yeah."

St. Jitley grew impatient. The queue was extremely large as usual, and she had no time for this foolish soul. She would have to ask the Divine Security to throw him out of the reception area. But, before she could press the buzzer, the living dead opened up his suitcase The contents were breathtaking. There was a piece of a Giant Buddha statue that was destroyed by the evil Taliban regime, a glittering sidereal clock that measured the progress of time, a halo intensifier that made the glow brighter, a Martian chocolate bar, a miniature statue of an honest politician (the most endangered species on planet earth) and a large bundle of Divine Dollars.

"Take your pick," said the soul, with an air of nonchalance.
 "But, this is nothing but bribery."
"(Winks) Yeah, Yeah."
 "I think I'll settle for the Halo Intensifier."
"The glow of our halos are fading. These sort of deals are the cause, I think."

The living dead laughed loudly. "Were there many such deals ?" he asked. 
"Yeah, yeah," mimicked St. Jitley, grinning from ear to ear. 
"Can you give me some instances?"
 "We have allowed Adolf Hitler to enter Heaven in exchange for some precious Nazi gold ." 
"Yeah, yeah." 
"We have illegally issued a lot of supervisas for sinners who did not really deserve the magnificence of heaven. They greased our palms, and we gave them what they wanted."
 "Okay. I see."
 "Now, you can give the Halo Intensifier to the angel on my right."
 "Okay," said the soul, handing the device to the angel on the left-hand side of St. Jitley. 
"Now, you can meet the next angel in the hierarchy, St. Namxal. I'll make sure that he helps you."
 "Yeah, yeah."

The living dead moved (dead men don't walk, silly) closer to those massive gates. He could clearly make out the writing on a board at the side. It was one of the unrecorded beatitudes which read : "Blessed are those who are dead - for they do not have to live."

St. Namxal was an elderly angel. He was short and dark. The fluorescent spectacles that he wore gave him an air of respectability. 

"I have your fudged report here right in front of me," he said. 
"That's right," said the soul, a being of few words. 
"There must be some good reason why it has been fudged. I heard that you are making a contribution to our special fund."
 "Yeah, yeah. Sir, what do you want ?" 
"Give me dollars." 
"How much ?" 
"Whatever you've got." 
"Sir, here is my contribution to your Judgement Day Fund."

St. Namxal smiled. He took the money and put it casually into a secret drawer in his desk.

 "Now give me my supervisa," said the grateful living dead. 
"I'm sorry, I cannot. Now go away."
"Yeah, yeah."

The living dead laughed heartily all the way back to the planet Zrxxy. He was actually an undercover reporter for the popular Tellica cyberwebsite. During the meeting on Zrxxy, the editorial board of the cyberwebsite had decided to investigate the rumours of corruption at the gates of Heaven. The sting operation was successful in exposing the scam. The hidden cameras and the concealed microphones had done their bit. St.George resigned as the Entrance Minister of Heaven. A one-angel inquiry committee was set up to probe the various aspects of the scandal. The report of the inquiry was shredded and the tiny fragments were tossed out into the cold, dark void of space.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Indians in Pakistan: ebook Promo

"Love blossoms in the strangest of places - a terror training camp in the heart of Pakistan."

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Both the Print and e-book versions of 'Indians in Pakistan' are now available for the Kindle, Smartphone & PC on leading online retail sites such as Amazon and Flipkart.

Where Have All the Pigs and Cottages Gone?

“If you tossed a stone up in the air, it would fall down upon either a pig or a Pereira” was an old Bandra saying. In places like Chuim or Chimbai, the prevalent version ended with “a pig or a Fernandes.” Apparently, since there are hardly any pigs left in Bandra, the  Pereiras and Fernandes have eaten them all up. But there has been a steady decline in the number of Pereiras and Fernandes in this area as well, due to  such factors as migration, the high cost of real estate and the pressure tactics employed by unscrupulous builders. No longer do we see those beautiful cottages with their breath-taking gardens. Bandra has indeed changed a lot and mostly for the worse. 

We now live in a concrete jungle filled with malls, shopping centres, eateries and mobile stores. This concrete  jungle  bustles  with  humans  but  is devoid of humanity. It is a “might is right” world where kinfolk slap court cases on each other. This is a far cry  from   the  Bandra  of  yore. It  is  as  if  when the old wells of Bandra were blocked, the old Bandra died and a new one, much  adored  by  our  modern  teenagers  and  shopaholics,   came  into  being. And   even    now    the   process   of    change   continues    as    talented    musicians     compete    with     recorded      music,    top notch      athletes        turn         into  online gamers and face-to-face conversations  are  substituted  with  impersonal  greetings on  Facebook.

“Waterfield Road got its name from the water that collected on the paddy fields when we were school kids,” said Uncle Neville, who then provided me with a nostalgic image of the Bandra of yore. Yes, we need to lament the change that has happened to this queen of suburbs; but we also need to keep an eye on the future and somehow endeavour to cope with this change.

Mr Miranda's Review of my book, "Rose Gardens and Minefields"

I have been picking up and browsing, treading my way carefully through the minefields, yet taking time to smell the fragrance of the roses. I found it to be a delightful collection – a veritable ’bhel puri’, a combination of political, religious, moral values to satisfy all tastes and appetites. I was impressed by your reflections in the poems ‘Philosophy of life’, ’Pleasure’, ’Love’ ’Dreamer’, Thinking,’ and the touch of humour in, ’Trying to enter Heaven,’ and ‘The Husband’ and the note of sadness in ’Agony’ and ‘Night after Christmas’. The essays ’Sport in India’ gives a good insight into Indian sport and Indian sporting legends past and present. ’Tryst with Destiny’ gives a sweeping view of Indian history and the hopes and expectations of a nation while your ‘Mumbai for all’ reveals a true Maharashtrian-East Indian spirit and love for our culture and heritage….I could go on…however, I will conclude by saying that the book as you so well said in your introduction is a literary collection, a bhel puri to ponder, taste and enjoy.. 

(The Reviewer is an eminent East Indian and an expert on English literature). 

"Rose Gardens and Minefields" (published by Leadstart Publishing) is available at several bookstores in India and can be purchased at various online sites including,,, rediffshopping,,,

The Vivekean Version of the Prodigal Son

(An Extract from Indians in Pakistan, the Action Thriller on terrorism)

‘It was all my fault,’ I said frankly. ‘I was blind then but now I see the truth. You were right and I was wrong.’
‘Mother would have been happy to see you,’ he told me, sadly. ‘Too bad she’s not around.’
‘Wh - where is she?’ I asked, looking around frantically for her.
‘It’s too late,’ he said. ‘She’s no longer in this world.’
‘Mother, mother,’ I continued, not heeding him. ‘Mother where are you?’
‘She’s dead, dear brother. She’s in heaven now.’
‘No, it cannot be. She cannot die! I need to tell her how much I love her. I need to tell her how sorry I am for walking away. I wanted to introduce her to Najma, my wife. I wanted to - ’

Words failed me at that moment and I sank to my knees. There were plenty of kind words from everyone around but there was nothing that could console me – not even the beautiful hands of Najma wrapped around my neck. I was truly inconsolable.

Visit the Fan Page of this exciting novel at

Read the preview at

Indians in Pakistan – An Exciting and Informative Novel

I smiled at the irony that while we, the trainees, were equipped with rocket launchers, AK47s and other sophisticated weaponry, the head of the mission confronted us with a measly pistol. I was still smiling as my fingers pulled the trigger. The short, bald leader collapsed in a heap. Our jeep sped away.

We left the camp that night, leaving a trail of destruction in our wake. Scores of dismembered bloody bodies lay strewn all over the place. Almost every solid structure had been reduced to rubble. Small fires flared at various places. There were a couple of big fires that lit up the night sky. But what I remember most vividly was the ghastly silence just before we left the site.

The above segment is a short extract from my novel ‘Indians in Pakistan’, an action thriller that will leave you spellbound. It will also immerse you into a totally different world in which different forces are at play as jihadis plot a rebellion against their evil masters.

Firstly, love blossoms between a male and female jihadi during the terror training itself. Then there is a sudden outburst of patriotism among the Indian jihadis at the camp. However, the camp management uses harsh tactics to keep all the jihadis in check. Will the Indians revolt? What will be the outcome? Buy the book to get these answers.

‘Indians in Pakistan’ will also take you down memory lane by delving deep into the history of the subcontinent. It takes a frank look (a bit too frank some may say) on certain controversial decisions and actions of people from both sides of the border during and after the partition. It even revisits Pandit Nehru’s famous speech made at the dawn of India’s independence. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Fallacy and Evils of the Beef Ban

Here are a few points that expose the fallacy and evils of the Beef Ban implemented by BJP in Maharashtra and Haryana:
1) Cowslaughter was already banned 4 decades ago, but what we are protesting against is the extension of the ban to bulls and bullocks.
2) Most of us respect the religious sentiments of Hindus vis-a-vis cow worship; but the bull should not come under this category especially as the Hindi word for bull i.e. bayl is used to abuse people who don't have their own minds. How can it then be claimed that bulls are divine?
3) The leather Industry would be badly hit in Maharashtra ruining the state economy badly.
4) Lacs of people employed in the beef trade will face unemployment in Maharashtra
5) Sexual offenders face lighter jail terms than the 5 year sentence for possession of beef. In Haryana, you will be charged with manslaughter if beef is found in your possession.
6) Beef constitutes a major part of the diet of millions of people in Maharashtra (representing nearly 35% of the population) including a large number of Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Dalits and Tribals (Hindus) - they will all be deprived of the fundamental right of eating the food items of their choice.
7) Prices of non-veg food items like chicken and mutton have already increased by more than 10%.
8) Prices of vegetables could increase drastically too as people switch to a vegetarian diet.
9) Old bulls and bullocks could be let loose on the streets as the farmers would not be able to care for them after they have outlived their utility.
10) Lacs of these poor farmers will be deprived of a major source of income as they no longer will be able to sell their old cattle to beef traders.
11) The communal intent of the Maharashtra State Government stood exposed as immediately after the Beef ban was implemented, it moved against job reservations for Muslims in the state.
12) The Maharashtra and Haryana Governments have exceeded their mandates in banning the possession of meat as the slaughter could have happened in other states in which the act is perfectly legal - The law is called COW SLAUGHTER and not BEEF POSSESSION.
13) Under the leadership of Narendra Modi of the BJP, India's Annual beef exports are the world’s second-largest with lacs of cows being slaughtered legally for consumption abroad.
Isn't it hypocritical of Modi and the BJP to allow COWS to be slaughtered in India for consumption by foreigners but not allow INDIANS to eat the flesh of BULLS and BULLOCKS! This is food for thought - Modi and Fadnavis might soon even ban FOOD for thought as they continue to dish out BULLSHIT!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Anti Beef Ban March - Mumbai

It will be a peaceful march but a strong protest in the heart of Mumbai against the harsh, sadistic, illogical and unconstitutional Beef Ban implemented by the states of Mumbai and Haryana. The patriotic and secular stakeholders of the action-packed 'Indians in Pakistan' Novel feel that the BJP governments in these states do not have the mandate to enforce such a stringent and outrageous legislation that deprives millions of Indian citizens of their right to choose what to eat, of their right to livelihood as beef traders or vendors of leather products, and of their right to possess beef for whatever reason they deem fit.

We respect the religious sentiments involved in the slaughter of the COW and many of us may agree with state laws banning their (cow) slaughter, but still feel it preposterous to include bulls and bullocks in the definition of the cow for purposes of this act. By fast tracking these legislations within a few months of assuming power, and that too without proper consultation with the citizens, we feel that the two state governments have blatantly targeted various sections of the minorities who are known for their beef eating habits as well as for their active role in the beef and leather trade.

The Beef Ban is well aligned with the repressive agenda of the Maharashtra State Government which includes the unfair persecution of the participants and organizers of the 'vulgar' AIB Roast, threats against the popular movie 'PK' and the vindictive cancellation of the Jerry Seinfeld Show in Mumbai due to lack of parking space!

The Consequence of not protesting is too great! Today the Maharashtra Government told the high court that the slaughter of other animal species may be banned too in the near future. The Non Veg way of life is under threat in Mumbai and the Rest of Maharashtra. Those who are found in possession of Beef in Haryana now face manslaughter. Violation of this act in both states is a non-bailable offense with a long jail term. Other disadvantages include the loss of livelihood, spiraling prices of non veg food items, higher vegetable prices and livestock management woes (for farmers).

The FB link of this event is  Please share this link online and spread the word.

So, put on your marching shoes and let us march unitedly for the sake of millions of beef eaters, beef vendors, leather traders, farmers and every Indian citizen who has been deprived of fundamental human rights. We appeal to the Maharashtra and Haryana Governments to revoke the atrocious beef bans in their respective states at the earliest. We shall meet at 9 am on 1st May (Maharashtra Day) to commence this peaceful protest on the streets of Mumbai. The route is yet to be finalized. Jai Maharashtra, Jai Hind!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Deja Vous: So near and yet so far -The End of India’s World Cup Campaign

At the start of the ICC World Cup, Indian cricket fans were extremely skeptical of India’s world cup chances as they had been badly thrashed by Australia in the Test and One Day series. We knew that it would be virtually impossible back then and most of us were happy when we thrashed Pakistan in the first match. But then Team India did a complete U-Turn à la Modi Sarkar and started winning one match after another – including against strong cricketing teams like South Africa and the West Indies. And then they raised the hopes of even the non-cricket lovers and it was as if were at war against the other nations. Yes, many people who told me that they would not be following the cricket world cup as they hated the game watched the entire semi-final in which Australia trashed us badly.

These folks declared that Virat Kohli was the villain of the piece for dropping a sitter and then making just 1 run in 13 deliveries. There were dirty abuses hurled at Anuskha Sharma, the Bollywood Superstar, for just being present at the ground. They didn’t bother to ask why Raina didn’t bowl in the Australian innings, why Dhawan and Rohit Sharma frittered away a perfect start, why Raina did not fire and why no batsman except Dhoni could stand up to the might of the Aussie pace attack. Because they had their villains – Kohli and Anushka, and they need not look any further.

Yes, the memory of these folks is short. It was Kohli who had been the most consistent batsman in the 2011 world cup which we had won. It was Kohli who had single-handledly taken on the Aussies the whole summer. It was Kohli who has been declared our batsman in the past few years. The expectations were high and Kohli failed to deliver. That was all. Let us not blame Anushka for it. Mistakes happen, especially against the Aussies who have probably the best side in the world and are playing with home advantages. They knew the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) well. They have the fastest bowlers in the world in Starc and Johnson, who were deadly accurate as well. They had eight proper batsmen in their lineup.

It was Deja Vous for India. It was a replay of that awful 2003 world cup final. Australia batted first the too and had made a few runs more, and our best batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, got our cheaply at the start. The pressure got to both Indian teams in a big world cup match . And now it’s time to enjoy the finals with the Kiwis possibly getting clobbered tomorrow. That’s my prediction. What is yours?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Chapter 1: Indians in Pakistan (Free Preview)

We were not discernibly different from the other passengers on Flight PK-269. We spoke Urdu fluently just like most of them. We wore kurtas just like many of the other male passengers. There was nothing in our physical appearance that gave us away either. But we were different - we were Indians in Pakistan.

Irfan, my companion, was getting quite restless on the flight. He kept staring around at the other passengers in an extremely suspicious manner. I cursed my luck. The last person I wanted seated besides me right now was a jerk like Irfan. He kept having doubts, and I simply hated those who had doubts. We were doing this for our religion - and for the whole of mankind. When the whole world looked through our eyes then there would be nothing but peace. But till such time, there had to be some violence.

It was early March. It had been nearly a week since we left our homes in Lucknow for this jihadi mission. We had sneaked across the border into Nepal before boarding the PIA flight from Kathmandu to Karachi. The exact details of our mission had not yet been revealed to us, but we were confident that before the training got over they would give us a detailed briefing on what we were supposed to do.

‘Take it easy,’ I told my companion curtly.
‘We should never have left India, Zameer,’ Irfan complained. ‘Our jihad could have been waged over there itself without coming to Pakistan.’
‘Shhh,’ I whispered to the stupid fellow. ‘Be careful of what you speak. And talk softly, you fool.’
‘I’m sorry,’ replied Irfan, ‘but ever since we left Lucknow I’m feeling quite uneasy.’
‘We will also feel like this sometimes, you fool,’ I scolded him in an undertone. ‘This is our mission in life. This is what we do. We’re doing it for our God and for our religion. Just stay focused on the mission.’

There was a long period of silence as Irfan pondered over what I had just told him. I was angry at his stupidity, but I, too, lost focus for a while. My mind strayed back to the distant past. There was my mother asking me whether I hobnobbed with the gun-wielding militants in our area. I remember denying vehemently and stating that it was not the case. I had told her, rather untruthfully, that my friends were religious people who did not believe in violence. Then I remembered leaving home forever in a huff after a quarrel with my older brother over Kashmir. He had the temerity to insist that Kashmir was an integral part of India. Had he not been my brother and the head of my family at the time, I would surely have killed him on the spot. I hadn’t heard from my family since that day more than a decade ago.

But I had no regrets. When we fight for the glory of Islam, we need to forget our families and friends. We need to leave them behind and see the vision of the future - a world in which Islam reigns supreme over all religions and even over such evil doctrines as communism. Towards this end, we need to focus our thoughts and actions.

Irfan looked at me again. His manner was abrupt and nervous. Evidently, he had lost focus a long time ago. I wished there was some way I could keep him focused on our goals and ambitions. This reluctant rebel was straying away from us at a rapid pace.

‘How long is this flight taking, Zameer?’ he grumbled.
‘It’s not been that long since we left Kathmandu,’ I retorted. ‘It should land in an hour.’
‘Good,’ he remarked. ‘I just can’t wait to get off this plane, although I’m not too keen on stepping on Pakistani soil either.’
‘You should have stayed back home,’ I whispered, angrily. ‘Why did you come here anyway?’
‘Haroon threatened to wipe off my entire family if I didn’t volunteer for this mission.’

That’s what I didn’t like about some of these people. They forced and coerced reluctant Muslims like Irfan to join our cause. What was the use of all their actions if it didn’t come from the heart?

Haroon Rashid was a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander, covertly living in India. He had formed numerous sleeper cells of local extremists ready to perpetrate acts of violence all over the country. These sleeper cells were randomly activated at regular intervals to unleash a spate of violence whenever the Pakistani bosses gave the orders. Rashid was in charge of LeT’s operations in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Since Irfan and I belonged to that state, Rashid was the one who had approached us for this mission.

Meanwhile, Irfan became quieter as he seemed to be mulling over the pros and cons of our mission. The other passengers on the flight were oblivious to our presence. We maintained this low profile until the plane landed at Karachi Airport. Irfan and I got off along with the other passengers.

At last, we were on Pakistani soil. Honestly, I was quite thrilled to set foot on Pakistani soil. Pakistan is revered by jihadis in much the same way as America is revered by capitalists. It was indeed a dream come true for me.

Irfan, on the other hand, walked cautiously on the ground at the airport as if it were heavily mined. There was one thing I could bet my entire life on. I was absolutely certain that that jerk would never kiss the soil in reverence.

At length, we approached a small group of men standing at the exit. One of them held a placard bearing our names. We simply nodded our heads to signal our arrival. They crowded around us.

‘Welcome to Karachi,’ said a burly man. ‘I’m Lieutenant Ashraf. I will be in charge of you during your stay here. You will do what I tell you - nothing more, nothing less. If you go against my command then God alone can help you.’

‘Hi, I’m Zameer Khan,’ I introduced myself nonchalantly. ‘This is my colleague, Irfan Ahmed.’
‘Assalamu Alaykum,’ greeted Irfan, in a subdued tone.
‘I’m Commander Inzamam of the ISI,’ a tall bearded man told us. ‘I will be coordinating with the head of this entire mission. This is him.’

Commander Inzamam’s finger pointed towards a man of short stature. His round head was completely bald but it still gave him a somewhat imposing appearance. There was a distinct coldness in his eyes that seemed to be an outpouring of the coldness in his soul. I shivered a bit. Yes, I had been trained to be cold and heartless by the local jihadi group in Lucknow, but this short man succeeded in giving me the creeps as well. He introduced himself as Commander Abu Hamza of the LeT.

After the introductions had been completed, the group split into different teams. Each team left the airport in a separate vehicle. There were four of us seated in the old jeep. Lieutenant Ashraf sat besides the chauffeur while I joined Irfan at the rear. There was utter silence for a while as the jeep sped past urban structures and headed towards a range of hills on the outskirts of the city.

My mind strayed once again to the past. This time it went further back to the riots that had erupted after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. I was only twelve years at the time, but I can still remember it all so vividly. My father had come to reach me to school that day. They told us that my school had been prematurely closed for the day due to the horrendous rioting that was taking place in the city. So, we turned back and headed towards our home. Suddenly, an unruly mob of rioters emerged from nowhere and charged towards us in a state of frenzy. Those crazy men were equipped with sticks and swords. They attacked my poor father, who fell helplessly to the ground. I was terrified and speechless. They walked away quietly without a sign of remorse in their cruel eyes.

I turned around hopelessly. The sight of blood streaming from my father’s mutilated body was simply horrific. I wept bitterly. My father had been such a good and pious man. All of us loved him a lot. It took me a really long time to get over the trauma of this cold-blooded murder.

Soon everybody knew me as the kid who was thirsting for revenge. It showed on my face and in my walk. I hoped and prayed for the opportunity to avenge the murder of my father. When I was just about sixteen years old, a group of fundamentalists convinced me to join their cause. They convinced me that jihad was the only way to find the peace which I was so desperately searching for. I had to join them and fight for the greater glory of Islam. Yes, that’s how I became a terrorist. Of all the militants who choose the path of violence, there are a few like me who are virtually driven to it.

All this simply shows us that communalism and terrorism are nothing but opposite sides of the same coin. They keep feeding on each other in a vicious cycle, resulting in a society full of violence, hatred, sorrow and intolerance. Every communal act is used as a justification for mindless acts of terrorism. Similarly, each act of terrorism is used as a justification for such horrible atrocities like genocide and ethnic cleansing. And, it is always the innocent people who get killed. This is the sad truth. Unfortunately, many of us realize this truth when it is too late. Some of us never do. Luckily, I realised it before the end.

The long spell of silence was finally broken by the burly lieutenant. His voice was loud and commanding.
‘Remember this. Whatever you see or do here should not be disclosed to anyone outside the camp. It is strictly confidential. If you reveal anything, you could jeopardize our cause and the whole jihad could be lost. Is that clear?’
‘Yes, sir,’ we declared in unison.
‘And remember not to mingle with each other as well,’ the lieutenant went on. ‘Just cooperate as much as possible with each other, but don’t interact with the other jihadis. This is not a place for socializing. If you want to socialize, I’ll stop the jeep right now and you can get off if you wish. Does anyone want to get off now? No, good! Remember this as well. In this camp, you will have to be serious and pious. You will have to offer namaz daily. Remember we are doing all this for our religion. The rest I will tell you when we reach our destination.’

Once again there was a long period of silence. I was quite happy that Irfan was not that irritating any more. I hoped for his sake that he was once again the master of his life. We did not need puppets to fight in the jihad. We needed men who would put their whole heart and soul into it. We needed men who were willing to make all kinds of sacrifices for the greater glory of Islam. We needed men who would even make the ultimate sacrifice for this noblest of causes. So many martyrs have laid down their lives in this global jihad in the hope that our cause will prevail. We were determined to overcome the forces of evil existing in this world.

The vehicle moved quickly on the dusty tar road. It moved westwards and I presumed that we were somewhere near the Baluchistan border. I had done a lot of research before sneaking into Nepal for this mission. I had gone through the detailed maps of our subcontinent. The other jihadis living with me in the Lucknow apartment had supplied valuable information on the geography and history of Pakistan and India. Of course, the historical versions fed to me were not that accurate. They never are!

Ali who had once trained in the famous Muridke camp gave me a thorough briefing on what to expect after I had landed in Karachi. It was Ali himself who had introduced me to Haroon Rashid after learning about the tragedy that had befallen me. Till then I had been a radical jihadi without a mission, a rebel without a clearly defined cause.

Meanwhile, the colour of the sky turned to a pale orange as the sun began to set. But the light was still good, and the chauffeur manoeuvred the jeep skilfully on the winding road. He was not a regular Lashkar operative like us but a member of the large support team that had been specially recruited for this camp.

Soon we reached a desolate hilly area that reminded me a lot of the Himalayan foothills in Uttar Pradesh. In fact, the entire terrain had reminded me of India. But I was in Pakistan and there was no remorse at all in my heart for what I intended to do. I was just paying them back in their own currency, the currency of blood.

‘We are approaching the camp,’ Lieutenant Ashraf told us in a matter-of-fact tone. ‘Now relax and enjoy as much as you can. After we reach the camp, there will be no time for relaxation and enjoyment.’

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