Keeping Faith This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 7, 2010
By , Vienna, WV
My bear feet pound painfully against the gravel with each swift movement. My eyes stay closed and I don’t dare breath. My ears are aroused by the harsh sound of hymns. These are not familiar church tunes; they are Muslim songs being spat out angrily by unfamiliar voices. Tears build up in my eyes as I hear little Abella screaming in my mothers arms. I fall to my knees in desperation longing for some sign of guidance. My eyes cautiously open as I peer at an open field of grass. I bury my head in my hands while millions of unanswerable questions pick at my mind one by one.

I open my eyes and release the dozens of tears that retreated to my cheeks. I look back directly and saw my village, the houses, the cows, the sheep, and the tall steeple of the church, located in the center of our small Christian community. I am used to looking at the rows of mud brick houses from this field, and most times it all looks the same. This time is different. The night is illuminated by dozens of torches being thrown aggressively towards my friends and neighbors. My mind is blown wild with shock and utter fear.

I see a few familiar faces in the mob of angry Muslims, they live on the outside of our small village of Korian, Pakistan. Just earlier that day I was celebrating my cousins marriage. She was getting married to a man in a neighboring village called Gorjara Basti. Like our city, Gorjara is a mainly Christian city, has a few Muslims scattered around the city which is hard to come by in Pakistan. Nobody minds though, they are always nice to us Christians. That is why I cannot imagine why they had such a dramatic change in heart. Just this afternoon we gathered together for my cousin’s marriage ceremony.
My cousin’s wedding was in Koiran’s church. After the minister wedded the couple we dismissed ourselves into the streets and said a prayer for the couple’s happiness and health over the next years to come. The Muslims stepped to the side and said a prayer to their God, Allah. I looked up and saw a bright ball of yellow that shone down on us willingly. There were no white clouds surrounding it, the sun was the only object suspended in the sky. I treasured these days; they were like a sign from God reassuring me that all was good.

After we prayed we surrounded the city and sang hymns while dancing spontaneously. The little children would take turns eagerly as I would lift them and twirl them in the air. The hours went by fast and I began to notice a few of the people were had gathered behind the church and staring at us eerily. I could see hate and disbelief in their eyes. My stomach churned while one person in particular met my gaze. We stood there for a minute, acting as statues just peering at each other. It seemed for a second that the whole world had stopped. I felt as if he was sucking my soul from my body. Unexpectedly he whipped his head around and gaped at something behind the church with an even more vicious stare. He ran off, down the main road followed by the others and a cloud of dust. I saw a piece of paper fly from his pocket and rushed to read it. It said, you will pay for your hatred towards Allah.

My curiosity had taken control and led me to the back of my church. I only found 3 babies ripping out pages of a Quran, the Muslims holy book. I couldn’t make myself believe this is what the men were angry about, so I meandered back to the festivities without. I never thought anything of it for the rest of the afternoon, but now I think I am the only one who sees a connection between the mob of Muslim invaders and that mob of angry people from this afternoon.
So here I was staring bewildered at our city in shock and utter horror. I said a quick prayer for God to give me strength, and almost instantly after, I felt as if something carried me into the town, God had answered my prayer and was showing me what I needed to do. I saw people, families standing on top of their mud brick houses clutching small children trying to calm them. I saw my own mother doing the same with my only sister, Baby Abella. My mother stood firmly while covering Abella’s mouth and nose gently with her hand, keeping her from inhaling fumes. I yelled to her, showing her I was safe, for the moment. I saw my father, accompanied by my uncles, fighting off a group of Muslims with determination and integrity using only their fists. I smiled knowing some of his spirit had rubbed of on me.

Something hit me, not my body, but my mind. I realized I had not seen my brother, Lurim. I ran back to my flaming house and peered through one of the windows in search of him. I spotted him easily. He was sitting in a corner, grasping our family’s bible while silently praying. He was not crying or even quivering. He just sat there while silently talking to God. I wanted to run in and grab him, but knew that I would be risking both of our lives. I said a silent farewell and fled the house.

I weaved through the town and coaxed people off of their roofs and sent them into the field. I went back into the center of the city and could not see anymore people quivering on the roof tops. My father, Malik was still intently warding off the same crowd of Muslims. I knew that he and the rest of the brave citizens could handle it. I fled out of past the houses and went to find my mother in the field. I found her sitting surrounded by a patch of daisies, all the while Baby Abella was quivering with shock. I admired Mother for that, she was always strong, when others were weak and in need of a shoulder to cry on. That is how I wanted to be, that is how I would be. I silently joined her and leaned my head gently on her shoulder. That is when I fell asleep and drifted off into my own world.

I was awakened the next day, by the sound of Abella’s gibberish. The men with the torches were gone and the sun was back out shining as if nothing in the world had happened. My mother tapped on my shoulder and beckoned me over to the orange tree a few yards away where my father was already waiting. I went over calmly, not knowing what to expect. I sat down cross-legged next to my father waiting for one of my parents to speak. My father was the first to speak. His voice was calming and strong. He told me that we were going to leave our village. He said we would be moving across Pakistan to the East, to a different Christian community called Yaqeen. I didn’t cry, for I knew this was for the best. The rest of the day, we gathered fruit and wheat from the surrounding fields so we would be well nourished during our short journey. I took one look back on our burned village and said another prayer in my head. Dear Father, please be with me and my family as we make this journey, be with the other citizen’s of this community, and please Father, help me to keep my faith.





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