How I became one of the 'namaloom afrad'
All I had to do was point a gun at a pedestrian, and then enjoy his face turn pale.
I was never really the brightest kid in my class. Going to school meant tolerating the teacher’s taunts as he caught me trying to distract my mates from the last bench. It also meant getting kicked out of class almost each day, and spending the rest of the day roaming around the city with my other close pals.
My elder brother was different. His studious nature meant that I was always second best at home. My father spent his entire life as a school teacher, earning just enough to feed and educate us. My mother was a simple housewife who had buried her ambitions of leading a comfortable life as soon as she got married.
My father was regarded as one of the nicest men in the neighbourhood -- a reputation that did not do too many favours to our family. Being a nice guy in the locality we lived in meant it was easy to be pushed around, and there was no such thing as freedom of speech or actions. My father always told my brother and I how this life is temporary and how the real reward lies in the skies. And while my brother -- being the well-behaved son that he was -- always nodded in acceptance, my ideas were different.
I found it extremely hard to accept this life of submission.
To sum it up, I was a rebel with no interest in academics, and no special talent to boast about. My parents saw me as a failure in life ahead, and put all the hope of their well-being on my elder brother. With the pressure of living up to my parents’ expectations relieved, I knew I had the liberty of living as I wanted.
When my brother joined a small factory at a meagre salary after getting his engineering degree, he advised me that I should work hard like him so that I could give some direction to my life. And while it was true that I was unaware of the path I was walking on, I also did not want to end up like my brother or my father, living a life of that had no value whatsoever.
I wanted a life of power and dominance -- a life in which I was the captain of my ship. I wanted a life in which my pride was not threatened by those who enjoyed authority.
While my ideas seemed to be attractive to me, the ground reality remained that I was heading nowhere. With no proper education, I was not even eligible to follow the path of my brother and father. My mother’s secret resentment grew by each passing day, as she saw me wasting the most productive years of my life, roaming around the streets, spending time with people who were regarded as a menace for the whole neighbourhood.
Little did my mother know that these were the people who were the torch-bearers of the path I had sought all my life. While my brother worked tirelessly in gruelling conditions to earn a trivial wage, I stamped my authority on anyone I saw, thanks to the influence of my seniors. With them, I felt the power I had longed for since childhood. All I had to do was point a gun at a pedestrian, and then enjoy his face turn pale, as he would give me all the valuables that he carried. A few fires in the air would send entire markets into a state of terror, with shops closing down instantly.
The media attention I got was also part of the package. As my identity was never revealed when my actions were reported, I felt like a superhero who would fly across the city with a mask on his face.
This power was addictive. I brought home an expensive cell phone for my father one day, which cost twice my brother’s salary. No longer was I the loser at home. There was no one who could dare to take advantage of me. This power, this authority, this infinite strength, had been granted to me by my honourable leaders, to whom I had become indebted for life. As a return of their favours upon me, I was ready to put my life on the line whenever they instructed me to.
My identity has become a secret for the rest of my life. But then who said secrets are a bad thing?
NOTE: All events mentioned in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.
Read more by Ali here or follow him on Twitter @dralirafiq