THE PERKS OF INSULTING MUHAMMAD

`”Muhammad was a pedophile!”

I said that yesterday night. And to my defense, I was drunk! Well, not that drunk but Ahmed’s cousin was also being an asshole to me. And so I fought back the best way I know how!

Ever since he visited about a month ago and found me at Ahmed’s place after a sleep over, Hassan has not been very pleased with this “arrangement”. He called it that when I eavesdropped on him lecturing Ahmed about sex and religion. (Sex and religion- who does that these days?! It was almost cute.)

 So yesterday night…

—————————————————————-

Omar, Fiona, Ahmed, his asshole cousin, Hassan and I are out for a drink.  I have no idea why Hassan tagged along but do I make an issue of it? No sir!

I was not looking for trouble; Hassan started it! He brought the religion issue up. In a club! Okay it was 8 p.m. so it wasn’t booming or anything but still!

He asked whether I’d become a Muslim yet. (I didn’t know I had applied!)

I told him no, I would never become a Muslim. No offence to Ahmed but he knew that. We’d already talked about this.

His cousin pushes and outlines all reasons I should cross over soonest possible and quiet Omar chips in occasionally to support the cause. Fiona too (soon to become Fatuma) puts in a good word here and there and Ahmed watches them all with an amused smile playing on his lips. We’ve been this way before- he knows the drill.

I patiently indulged them they way I do C.U. preachers who pester me to get saved. And along the way, Hassan put in an annoying comment about my mini (which I’d worn with stockings!) but did I throw a fit? No I did not!

And I don’t clearly remember how the argument got to Islam being the one true religion; or how Christianity is full of western influence and tolerance to immorality, but by that time, I was up to my neck with Hassan’s self righteousness.

I’m no staunch Christian or religious fanatic, but when all odds are against one side, I always become the devil’s advocate. And so I said the one thing I knew would get him off my case.

 “You honor a pedophile and you think Christianity is the immoral religion?” I asked him and scoffed.

He shut up alright, but so did everyone else. Even Ahmed,seated next to me, turned to stare at me like I’d dyed my hair yellow.

“Excuse me?” Hassan asked, his drink pausing on the way to his mouth.

“Muhammad and Aisha,” I said as a way of explaining, “Is it moral for a fifty year old to fuck a girl of nine?” (Shit! I said fuck!)

Ahmed was glaring at me in almost amused shock. We’d never gone this far in the differing religious debates we occasionally had. Besides, we had agreed that since I am no longer a Christian- and on my way to having no religion- we would never seriously talk about my religious status! And all was well, until good old Hassan brought it up!

“How dare you?!” That came from Omar across the table whose girlfriend Fiona, instantly looked away from me and left me to my own defense. She was not yet a Fatuma! She was supposed to be on my side!

I fixed Omar with a matter-of-fact-look, “We were measuring degrees of immorality between Islam and Christianity.”

Omar hit the table with his fist, “The prophet was the most moral and upright man! He was honorable and you ought to be ashamed of tarnishing his name!” Omar cried and for one who isn’t much of a talker, he looked very angry and defensive.

I was liking this more and more! I love seeing calm people worked up- and boy was Omar was super charged! But not like Hassan who glared at me with his mouth agape, like he would pounce on me and pound my face with his fat fists.

I felt the need to validate my claim, “I’m not tarnishing anything. All that is in your Koran…”

“Do not…” Hassan interrupted but I was unstoppable!

“Muhammad married Aisha at age 6 and had sex with her when she was nine. In the 21st century we call that pedophilia,” I said my punch line and Hassan almost knocked the table over, standing up with his bottle of Picana in one hand.

He held it like I would hold a knife to a rapist, and I did not like the look in his eyes.

Ahmed eyed him warily and said “Do not.”

Atta boy! My knight in shining armor! There should have been drum rolls!

“You are just going to sit there and let her insult your religion?” Hassan asked in a burst of anger- I think he spat on me some. Ew! He had attracted some attention from the two tables to our right and left and I was getting little uncomfortable at the turn of events. Maybe I had pushed too far. Who knows what he could do with that bottle. Extremely religious people can get pretty violent.

Ahmed started saying something and for lack of anything valid to placate his cousin, he claimed, “She’s had a lot to drink…”

I beg your pardon?!

“… She’s not usually like this…”

I am exactly like this most days!

“…I think we best be heading home now.” Ahmed finishes kissing ass and nudges me to get up.

So much for applauding my knight in shining armor!

“And before we do, I think you need to apologize,” Ahmed adds giving my coat to me. Yay! My knight is back! I glare up at Hassan and smile at him in smug satisfaction. Apologize for threatening me, you asshole!

Ahmed nudges me and I realize he’s been talking to me; asking ME to apologize. A minute after it sank in, I laughed- that one beat surprised laugh that’s out before you can stop it.

The others are waiting. Fiona’s eyes are all on me now, just waiting to see what I would do! She might as well have jumped up and down, clapping her hands and screaming “OMG! OMG!” in her usual YOLO way. Wait, would that translate to “OH ALLAH! OH ALLAH” when she converts? That thought brings a bubble of laughter up my throat and taking the last swig of my drink I decide that Ahmed is not really serious about the apology.

He is staring at me with that look he always has when we have argued too long and he is tired. I shouldn’t push it but he isn’t getting an apology from me.

So I put my coat on and walk away from the table.

I don’t know where the hell I am going with only 200 bob in my pockets but I am hanging on to the hope that Ahmed will come after me. And he does- thank goodness! He’s donning his silver armor again (without the awesome sword though.)

 “We need to talk,” he says and steers me by the waist toward the club’s exit. It’s cold outside and I shiver inside my denim coat. Our feet crunch on the gravel parking lot where we stop and stand. There are very few people around because the weather is looking nasty and its bound to rain. Well, it’s not the only thing about to pour!

I turn to him angrily and ask him silent questions. Why had he not stood up to his cousin? How dare he ask for my apology when his cousin had been the pushy one the whole time? And why the fuck did he bring him tonight anyway?

“I really need you to apologize to Hassan,” he says and I can’t help rolling my eyes.

“There we go with Hassan!”Just for kicks, I ask, “Why should I?”

He has his hands about his chest- all tough and macho and about to make a point, “Well you insulted my religion today- and I understand how liberal you are but you offended my cousin and Omar. They take religion very seriously and I need you to apologize to them for that.”

Like I care so much for their hurt feelings!

“If they were so serious about religion, they wouldn’t be insulting other people’s religions!” I exclaim and he nods indulgently- like he’s heard this before. He’s starting to annoy me.

“You don’t feel very strongly for Christianity and I think you’re just being difficult to rile them,” he says and he’s right. I hate him for always making a good point when I just want to cause chaos and watch the ants scramble! But then, I also hate quarrelling with him so after folding my arms about myself and frowning, I acquiesce and hope we can just go home already.

“Okey!” I agree half heatedly, and get closer to him. He has his leather coat on and he’s warm inside when I circle my arms under it. He smells a little of vodka and his cologne! I love his smell so I snuggle into him.

But just so we are clear that I am still not defeated, I add to his chin “But even if they’d spoken against Hinduism, I’d still have told them off. You know I hate self righteous people!”

 “At least they didn’t call Jesus a pedophile.” He says down at me and I take my hands back.

“They had no reason to! Jesus didn’t deflower a child of nine!” I all but shout and throw my hands in the air.

Ahmed groans in frustration and turns away from me pacing with his hands akimbo. He doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to call the cab.

“Can we go now? It’s cold here.” I tell him but still, he hesitates. What the heck is wrong with him?!

“Okay, I’ll be honest with you…” he starts and I have a feeling I won’t like what he has to say.

 “The thing is, Hassan will cause trouble for both of us in front of my parents if you don’t apologize,” he says it like a bomb is supposed to detonate anytime now.

Nothing explodes.

“So what? It’s not like I’m ever meeting your parents anyway,” I tell him.

He pockets his hands uncomfortably and shakes his head undecidedly like that was still up for discussion.

He had been asking about it for the past two weeks and I had made it crystal. While he had met my mum once- totally by accident- I was never to meet his parents under any circumstances. His dad was an imam-super religious and staunch – and his mum was the good wife who never said no to her hubby. No, I was never to meet his parents. His sister was okay though; very loud and pleasant.

“I was to tell you within the week,” he says and hesitates again. “Nasra is getting married next Saturday; she needs you to be there.”

This is not good.

 I love Swahili weddings and Nasra is nice and all but I never planned on becoming besties with my boyfriend’s sister. Nor meet the whole family especially not his dad!

“I have plans next Saturday,” I lie and try my most sorry look. Ahmed just looks at me flatly, knowingly- shit! He must have asked about my plans this past week.

Why should I lie? I don’t want to go- and I don’t care much for playing nice to his family!

“Just tell Nasra am sick or something…” I say.

“I know you’re terrified of my dad- and so am I sometimes- but he’ll be too busy at the wedding, to ask about the state of your soul! My mum too and Nasra just really wanted you to document her wedding; photos and that sort of thing.”

Ok, that’s new!

“Excuse me?” I ask for clarification.

“She wanted you to be there as her photographer. She’s comfy around you and she’s seen your sister’s wedding photos and liked them,” he shrugged, “I promised her I’d get you to do it.”

Am truly flattered but there is a bigger picture here!

“Why can’t she just hire a pro? I’m an amateur,” I say and he shrugs again.

“I also have no idea why she’d want you,” he shakes his head sardonically and I hit his arm but smile a little. Wait no smiling! Nothing he does or says will make me go meet his family- or apologize to Hassan- especially not the latter!

 “I was to tempt you with a camera later in the week but I guess now is just as good a time.” He says and everything but his voice stops.

“I’ll get you the camera,” he states and for clarity, he adds, “Buy you. I’ll buy you the camera.”

My oh my! Talk of a deal you can’t say no to!

A camera! Can you imagine that?! I could get my very own camera and everything else suddenly doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

I’ll have to meet the family…sure, but that’s just for a day. I can always hide out somewhere.

I’ll have to apologize to an asshole- well my pride will be bruised but my pride can’t take great photographs! A camera can!

All the evening’s drama is wiped out of my mind and a huge black camera with lens as long as my arm swivels at the center of my universe. That image is tainted by one of a small pink digital camera with lens shorter than my little finger and I feel the need to be clear on what camera I want. If am going to apologize to his asshole of a cousin and meet his family too, I may as well bargain big.

So I say ,“A DSLR,” and he shrugs like he expected that. Shit! Maybe I should have asked for a car!

“Are you for real?” I ask suspiciously.

“If you apologize to Hassan and Omar, you get your camera. Oh, and attend Nasra’s wedding too. I promised her that.”  He crosses his arms and smiles a little- like he knows he has won! I feel a little conned.

 “You had this all planned out, didn’t you?” I ask him and he shrugs like it’s that thing he does with a snap of his finger.

“I didn’t plan on you calling Muhammad a…” he rolls his eyes and waves his hand about. “I was to tempt you to come to the wedding because Nasra is depending on your being there and she’s very excited so I really can’t risk any drama from Hassan. He’s a trouble maker.”

“Really?” I ask defiantly and cross my arms. “What if I’d said no?”

“You wouldn’t say no to a camera,” he sounds so sure I want to call the deal off just to spite him. But though I may be a tad proud, am not stupid. A great camera is a GREAT camera!

“That’s blackmail.” I tell him though I am well pleased with this arrangement. 

“No you’re the one blackmailing me,” he says, twines my arms behind my back, and pouts, “I can’t believe you won’t do something for me without getting something in return,” he shakes his head in mock disbelief, “I’m hurt!”

I roll my eyes at him and give him a quick kiss.

“Come on, I have a show to put on,” I take his arms off me and taking him by the elbow, I turn him back towards the club.

“Wait, we aren’t sticking around are we?”I stop and ask at the door.

“Heck no!  I’m not going to risk having to buy two cameras,” Ahmed says much to my relief. He pushes me on by the small of my back- desperately eager to get it over with. Poor Ahmed.

I really didn’t mean to put him in this position but I can’t say I am unhappy at the outcome.

The thought of my soon-to-come camera is my motivation as we walk past the now full tables and on, towards where Hassan and the rest, watch us walking back.

————————————————————–

Ahmed had his hand on my back the whole time- maybe as assurance or to pinch me if I went astray in my act. It worked out pretty well, gauging from Hassan’s self-righteous forgiveness speech afterwards. I hate the fact that the asshole is his cousin but on the other hand, Ahmed is super amazing and since the family was never in the picture, that’s good enough for me.

Besides we are set to go and watch Life of Pi in 3D today evening. It’s his treat and I don’t want to miss that, seeing as I’ve been yapping about it for weeks! Then of course, there is the DSLR which we are shopping for this very day- just in case he changes his mind or some other shit happens.

 I didn’t apologize for nothing!

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