A collection of Short Stories on my Grandfathers

In this short story, my grandfather, as a young boy, is tortured by the thought of having to drink a particular oil during his holidays. It takes place in Malaysia, in the year 1946.
This is a story which I have written for my Personal Project at school. I will be writing a total of 13 different stories about my grandfathers and this is the first one! I would appreciate any feedback!

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4. They Are Going to Kill You

 

“This is your Captain speaking; arrival at Bangladesh will be in fifteen minutes. It is one thirty in the afternoon and the temperature outside is thirty three degrees Celsius. To all Bangladeshi’s, welcome home, and to all visitors, hope you have a pleasant time. Thank You for flying with us at Dakar Airlines.”

                Two stewardesses walked down the aisle in their well ironed red skirts, fitting purple shirts and tightly pined back hair. Gracefully, they smiled at the passengers with their pearl white teeth and reminded some to use their seat belts, bring their chair up right and open the shutters on the tiny windows. Satanam was one of them, he had slept throughout the journey; his head titled back and mouth slightly opened, until he heard the captain’s announcement and woke up.  He was traveling from Bangkok after sharing the faith for two weeks and now arrived in Bangladesh, hoping to do the same.

                Outside the airport, Satanam stood in front of a crowd of aged men whose faces were covered with white, grubby beards. Below their murky eyes their skin sank in, creating small black circles, their hair was cut short with random strands sticking out here and there, and many wore plain back pants with an oversized shirt.

“Taxi, taxi, taxi!” They shouted at the top of their lungs, trying to get the attention of the foreigners which they had spotted. They had been lingering around all day and it was time for them to make some money.

It was gloomy day, the sky was cement grey and the clouds were ready to cry. Leaves of all shades of green flew about in the air and into the main entrance of the airport. Satanam looked around in search of his friend Joe, who had insisted that he would meet him here and then bring him to the village where they would share the faith. He first looked at the small tea stalls and newspaper stands at the right side of him, followed by the information counters, a money exchange counter, and in front of him, a group of young men eager to tell people of the tours and attractions.

Joe was nowhere to be seen.                                                        

Satanam decided that he would walk closer to the main road with his small backpack and wait there. ‘Perhaps he is trying to find me too’ He thought to himself. That must have been the case, for within five minutes came Joe on his ancient motorbike. He took his helmet off, along with the small red and black backpack which he had around his back, and shook Satanam’s hand gently. He was a tall, thin, Indian Malaysian who had been studying in the capital of Bangladesh.

“Alla’u’abha Satanam, how are you?” Joe said jovially as he moved in to hug his dear friend.

“Alla’u’abha, I’m very fine. How are you?” Satanam laughed and spoke with love. His face beamed in happiness as he hugged Joe. One thing you should remember about this grandfather is that he is the kind of person who likes people; he always invited friends to his home and treated them with as much hospitality as possible.

“Fine, fine, thank you. How was your flight?”

“It was very good, even the food was good.”

“Ok,” Joe chuckled, “We better go then. Do you want to go straight to the village or do you want to have a rest first?”

“No, we can go straight away. Let’s not waste any time.”

Satanam sat behind Joe on his motorbike with his small backpacks and they rode away. He wasn’t on Joe’s motorbike for long as they moved into a bus after thirty kilometers. In the shabby looking bus they sat among the locals, on hard yellow seats and heard the shrilling cries of hungry babies.  The smell of dirty socks clogged their noses and sticky skin brushed against their arms. By the time they arrived at the village, it was four in the afternoon.

They stepped off the bus and as Joe lead the way to his friend’s home, Satanam looked around him. The baby blue sky slowly turned cobalt blue while ebony black birds flew out of the trees and dispersed in all directions. Children cheered as they played with dusty rocks and teenage boys rode rusty bicycles to their chestnut colored mud houses. Roofs made of palm leaves glistened and small platforms made of mud stood in front of each home. Further inside the village he spotted small patches of land where farmers were growing rice, corn and lentils.  Locals looked at them with curious eyes and smiled awkwardly. The women cover their heads with their sari’s and some carried baskets of food on top of their head as they walked about.

“Shubha-gaman! Welcome.” A man with a oblong face exclaimed.

“This is my good friend, Najib, and we will be staying in his home.” Joe explained. “Ē'i Satanam; this is Satanam.”

“Nice to meet you.” Satanam said as Najib smiled at him shyly.

“Come, we shall leave our bags here and visit the people.” Joe took Satanam’s bag off his right shoulder and placed it on the platform in front of them. That afternoon, they jumped from one home to the other, sharing the faith as they went along. As they sat in a home and ate a soggy cold dessert, people gathered by the door and listened to their conversation. A group of ladies peered in and observed the clothes they wore and the way they spoke.

Five men in checkered lungis stood outside the home and listened attentively. Their eyebrows were crunched up into a straight line, their eyes burned in anger and their minds grew bigger with every cruel thought. They did not like what they were hearing. In fact, they hated what they were hearing.  ‘How can they come into our village and talk of some other religion?” One of them thought.

Later, a group of villager gathered under the biggest banyan tree as the sky twisted into a mixture of pumpkin and tomato soup. Everyone squatted beside each other in silence and stared at the man who stood before them. He walked from right to left with his hands on his waist, kicking the dirt on the ground. His shirt was crimson red and his lungi was torn right down the middle.

“Today, two visitors came into our village, talking of a new religion.” His voice grew louder. “They are trying to convert us!”

“But how do you know?” A voice from the crowd inquired. 

“Look at them. They have spent the entire day at your homes, talking of religion and this faith of theirs. What do you think their motives are?”

People sat still; their head tilted towards those next to them. A few men began mumbling in a deep tone.  Their arms folded while taking deep breaths.

Ten men began talking.

Then there was more Talking.

Soon they were all shouting.

“How dare they!”

“They do not have the right to do this!”

                The sun had gone down and the villagers were now on their feet shouting out their opinions to those beside them.  As more dark thoughts and murderous feelings were shared, the crowd became more aggressive.  So loud was their outburst that the sounds of crickets, the hissing of snakes and the barking of dogs diminished.

                “Silence.” The man in crimson red shouted. He thought for a while and then finally declared what should be done with Joe and Satanam. “We must kill them!”  He said bluntly; there wasn’t a hint of doubt in his voice. “Grab your knives, sticks and blades!”

                Everyone in the crowd growled like wild animals, except Najib. He stood at the back and painfully listened to what was being said. Immediately, he ran to his home where he found Joe and Satanam laying out their mat for the night on the platform.

                “You must leave now! The village is coming to kill you. Go, go, go!” Najib whispered frightfully. He shoved them off his platform and handed them their backpacks.

                “Huh? Why?” Satanam asked as his face drained of blood. He was still as a statue and his hands felt like jelly. ‘Kill me?’ He thought to himself as he recalled everything that happened that day; the hospitality of the people, the warm conversations and the generous offers. He simply could not understand what they had done wrong.

                “They think you are trying to convert them.” Najib answered. He was collecting their valuables and shoving it into their backpacks, ignoring Joe’s watery eyes and Satanam’s dense forehead of creases. Both were scurrying around the platform like piglets, finding their shirts and belt. “You must leave now; at this very instant. Take all your belongings, pack your bags and run out. Follow the main road and after two kilometers you will see a bus stop. I believe the next bus leaves in three hours. Go, go, go, they are coming with knives!”

He didn’t wait for an answer; he threw them their bags and pushed them in front of him as he led them out of the village. Grass brushed against their ankles and bats flew past their ears as they made their way through the paddy fields and behind the homes. Mud jumped in the air, rats hid within stacks of trash and the only light visible was Najib’s dim torchlight and the street lamps that were placed beside wells.

Satanam sprinted along with Joe and Najib, only thinking that he had to get back home to his family.  Fear had conquered his heart and taken over all the other emotions. All he did was run for his life; his determination to get to the bus stop was so strong that he did not notice the absence of Najib until twenty minutes later when he and Joe slowed down to a jog. They were out of breath, sore in the shoulders and were the only ones on a sandy deserted road.

 ‘They thought we were trying to convert them? No. All we did was share the faith with them; converting them was never our intentions.’ He thought to himself when he finally calmed down and was able to reflect.  As he pondered, he stared at the pale moon and thanked God that he was safe.

 

 

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