Blasphemy – A Novel by Tehmina Durrani

Although Pir Sain’s duties had been reduced to sending messages of blessings to supplicants, people believed that even from this action, he could clear the debts, heal their illness, enliven their barren wombs and grow their crops. This, twelve decades of not a single sign of improvement in their lives. Poverty prevailed whichever way they turned. Tattered souls lived in empty hovels like dark graves, no different from their final burial place. But they flocked and crawled and groveled to his empty charpai at the Shrine, losing something more every time they turned to leave.
Contemplating the murder of religious leader of thousands of illiterate people needed supernatural courage. Transforming myself from a slave to master of my own destiny needed a miracle.
Pir Sain was a symbol of munafiqat.
I was a soldier.
This was Jehad.

… but He did not listen. I prayed and prayed, until I turned away from His Almighty’s silence. Allah, who had been everywhere was suddenly nowhere. There is no God, I thought. The entire world is misinformed like Gori, I concluded.
The night, I changed into my red costume free of Islam. God had been a moral hindrance. Religious guilt was blackmail. No God meant no sin.
As Allah had not stopped the crimes against me or would not or could not stop them, then it was clear that at least for me He was not there. I could swoop down on the young and preserve myself until doomsday, only then, Allah might appear. According to me, He still might not.

Facing Allah on prayer mat, I begged to know, 
‘Whose sin is this? Mine?’
‘Whose world is this? Yours?’

I recalled hearing about the urs of the great Sufi poet Bulleh Shah. There was joyous singing and ecstatic dancing at the celebration of revolt and freedom. There was happiness, not gloom. Here, everyone was dead, and yet, the dead were alive and the living were dead.

Amma Sain had told me, ‘When a wife has secured a hold over her husband’s bed, she can use it on everyone. It’s an art.’
Oppressed women mastered and excelled in this art; so too had Amma Sain. It was whispered that she had catered to her husband’s needs like a professional seductress whose enticing powers in the dark of night converted into administrative ones in the day.
Amma Sain confirmed the rumor when she said, ‘All women know that nothing except sex can hold a man, and yet most fail in keeping him.’

I realized that the suppressed deprived strength from suppressing others. It helped them to accept their own imprisonment and was an easy occupation for the trapped.

I looked around the dark and deathly room and noticed that the bed was like a wide grave. A high headboard rose like a tombstone.