He smiled as the world collapsed around him. Huge blocks of concrete and glass fell from the sky; with buildings which had towered just minutes ago now turned to dust. Screams were lost in the deafening silence of the blast that he had just triggered.
These were the times when a man's true nature was unveiled. He had seen a bloodied father jump over injured people in order to get to his children, a woman howling helplessly surrounded by corpses.
He could see all that. And yes, he was the cause of all this. For he was the harbinger of woe, sorrow, and death for these infidels. And he was happy for that. He was finally doing His work.
Or was he?
His smile disappeared as he saw a bloodied man reaching for the sky, his skull cap crimson with blood. He wanted to kill all the infidels, what was his brother doing in the middle of this?
He had asked this question to Mahad once while drinking the sweetest cup of tea he had in a while. Mahad had flicked off a fly running around on the brim before he answered, friends of infidels were infidels too, betrayers of their faith.
But what if they just happened to be there?
Then they were a liability, a necessary cost towards our war, Mahad had answered. Even when in the Holy Wars of yore, babies had been ripped from their mothers' bosoms, men and women had been killed, but it all was for a cause. A cause that required you to let go of all these worldly feelings, for you were doing the work for Him, and he rewarded those who worked for him.
Although not satisfied, Nadin had nodded his head knowingly. It was considered inappropriate to talk back to Mahad, one who had been sent by Him to help them cross this chasm of a life unto the Jannat, the ultimate aim.
There had been twelve of them there, apart from Mahad and a full time cook. Others came and went, some who taught them the guns, some who showed them how to make bombs, others who came to speak to Mahad. Every Friday, an Imam would come, and lead them through prayers. Although Nadin had been saying these words since childhood, they had been simply mechanical. But now he knew, the true meanings of the words, then spoken in whispers, now with enthusiasm.
Of the twelve, seven had survived the six month training. Two had been lost during the bomb making exercise, managing to detonate a disabled bomb. A special place in Jannat was reserved for them, the Imam had said, there on his only visit apart from Fridays. Kerim had told him later that Mahad had sent two lakhs to their families back home. Nadin hadn't known them that well, but all the same here had wept that night. At least they could have taken a few of the infidels with them.
Three had been killed while trying to cross over. They had crept under the cover of the darkness in the desert sand but still the enemy had spotted them and opened fire. They had burrowed in the cool sand, hiding until the gunfire had stopped. By the time, they reached the safe house, two had died of the wounds and the third was almost dead. Mahad had been waiting for them when they had arrived, ready with tasks He had chosen for them.
Nadin became dimly aware of the bloodied policeman in front of him brandishing a pistol. Nadin threw his head back in laughter. This infidel thought he feared death?
He welcomed it.
"PUT YOUR HANDS UP!"
Nadin looked hard beyond the man that stood in front of him, not really looking. He slowly invoked the final prayer, one he had spent long nights practicing with Kerim. Finishing, he moved his hand up to the button on the belt Mahad had gotten made especially for him.
Suddenly his eyes fell on the policeman's name tag. He drew in a sharp breath.
"You will die for them, these infidels?" Nadin said, his eyes fixated on the tag.
"I'll die for them ten times over," said the policeman, his hands shaking “Ten times OVER!"
Nadin stood still, his finger frozen in place. "Don't you want Jannat?"
"Jannat? You will get jahannam for this you..... you.... animal!" the policeman yelled, choking back tears.
Nadin stared at the crisscrossed bloodied bodies that lay on the street with disdain. He spat on the ground. "I did His work. I will get Jannat!"
The policeman wiped tears off his soot covered face, "His Work? When did he ask you to do this? Look around you, what did they ever do to you?"
"They were infidels!"
"They were HUMANS!"
Nadin gasped as the first bullet hit his chest with a thud. A second and third followed, but Nadin felt no more.
The policeman let out an anguished howl as he collapsed into a heap on the street, surrounded by death they said his religion promoted.
Never judge a religion by the actions of those who never even understood it.