Children of Hell

Maskwaith Ahsan
Short Story
Children of Hell

Marino asks Asad, “Why don’t you want to talk about your past, your country. It’s not only you guys who migrated here, there are migrants from Africa and other places and they all have a story to tell. So why this silence?”

“I just know that I escaped from hell. It was a choice between life and death. I opted for life, knowing well that I may never see my parents again,” says Asad.

Maskwaith Ahsans Children of Hell

Maskwaith Ahsans Children of Hell

Posted by Ongshumali অংশুমালী on Thursday, July 4, 2019

It’s a bright morning in Naples. Young South Asian men gather at a desi restaurant near Garibaldi square. Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani and Afghan; they all gather here whenever they get a break from work.

Marino, a freelance journalist, is assigned to write a report on South Asians living in Naples. Asad works in a shop near Marino’s residence and that’s how they met. Marino is always curious as to why Asad doesn’t talk about Bangladesh, the country he left behind.

Varun, a smiling young Indian, enters the restaurant. Asad introduces Marino to him, “he’s a journalist and wants to interview us all.”

“Nice. We are celebs in the making then,” jokes Varun.

They are joined by Sherdil, an Afghan who starts running his hands through his hair the moment he hears about the interview. Anxious to get started, he complains about his Pakistani friend, “Sheeraz is always late. Such a lazy soul.”

Varun doesn’t wait and starts, “We have similar stories. Our parents had many children, we were raised in poverty and dust. Unfortunate craps we were, went to school but were treated like animals by our own teachers. They used to beat us as if we were not minors and called us criminals for crimes none of us knew about. Out on the roads the patrol police were no different.”

Asad takes the story forward, “Political parties try to allure people like us with promises of fortunes if we become their cadres and do their bidding. What they don’t tell you is that changing your fortune comes at a very heavy price. If you are lucky you survive, otherwise you die in political gang wars. What they also don’t tell you is that getting out has a high cost too. There is a very popular form of ‘justice’. Law Enforcement Agencies shoot small fish like us and plant drugs or weapons on our bodies so that the names of big fish don’t come out in court hearings.”

This is where Sherdil murmurs, “In an environment of such desolation, lurking around are religious parties that lure you into a false sense of belonging, but again at the highest of costs: kill people in a suicide attack and we will take care of your loved ones, or your heaven will not be approved.”

Sheeraz, the one with the ‘lazy soul’, joins them, “If you want to impress the masses with law and order, you have youth like us. Kill us like birds and brand us criminals. But real criminals, who run political and religious businesses, loot public money and store it away in Swiss banks, remain untouched. Their fortunate children study in Europe and America, live a lavish life with stolen money and some go back as heir to their fathers’ power-empire.”

Sherdil is incensed, “Had I been a son of a powerful man or bureaucrat, I would have also enjoyed heaven. Sitting in a luxury apartment abroad I could have hyped up cricket nationalism on social media.”

But Varun has none of this, “This cricket hype is nothing but a cover for the ongoing crimes against humanity in South Asia.”

“Cricket is a ruse to fan hatred amongst neighbors so that the youth are distracted from hating the real monsters in their own countries. And they can keep on slaughtering poor, young men to expand their power-business. We are like lambs on their dinner table,” affirms Sheeraz.

Asad looks at Marino, “We want to forget our horrifying past in the hells of South Asia. In your country children are treated as gifts from heaven but in ours children are born to be sacrificed in the name of development, nationalism, patriotism and religion.”

Notebook forgotten, Marino stares helplessly at the children of hell.

Maskwaith Ahsan. Maskwaith Ahsan is an international journalist, educator and the author of over 14 books. His columns appear in several Bengali newspapers, magazines and websites across the globe. He also hosts his web TV show E-SouthAsia. With socio-political satire...

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