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Tragedies besiege and give us perspective in our daily struggles.
Today I heard a story from a friend that shook me to my very core.This is a friend from a war torn dysfunctional ‘Muslim’ country,
like many Muslim countries are today.

My friend told me that he won’t be keeping any fasts this year, explaining that he will justify not keeping any due mental health
reasons, he exclaimed all this with a wry smile.

I stated, surely you cannot be that depressed. But, I do know that life is a very heavy burden. As humans, we are all cowards, we
distance ourselves from our loved ones, our problems, burying them deep in our psyche as a coping mechanism. Until you start
resenting life. You become an automated machine, smiling, shaking hands, keeping up appearances. When in reality, you’re just a
walking box, an automated flesh machine – the spririt and mind are all shredded to bits. We are all cowards.

He replied solemnly, looking me directly in the eyes. ‘No, that’s not it – let me tell you a story.’ He’s full of entertaining and ironic stories everyday I see
him, I thought to myself with glee, I can’t wait to hear this.

He continued.

Around 10 years ago. My cousin, was a wild man. He went to Russia to study and escape the trappings of society. He lived his life to the max. Let’s just
say he had fun, A LOT of fun in Russia, not halal fun. Upon finishing his studies he decided to come back to his home country. At the security desk,
he was detained, because his name popped up as a ‘threat’  – some form of association to an Islamic group. He thought nothing of it.
It was probably some neighbour vendetta. Often happened in his part of the country. Many people go in and out of prisons being accused
of being islamists. They took him to prison. He was beaten in prison, questioned, interrogated. Nothing ever came up. Whenever they
tried to pin extremists events on him, he stated the dates don’t coincide because he was in Russia, or in prison. Standard bullying tactics
by the government. So, he got beaten again and tortured. All the while, keeping his spirit. Of all ironies, he learned about
religion in prison. Outside of prison, his religion was hedonism. Eventually he was released. A certificate of ‘innocent’ was given to him.

He spent 10 years of his life there.

At being released, he was always jovial about his past experience. Often remarking humourosly at the beatings, the interrogation,
the psychological turmoil he was put in. He built a life for himself, got married, had kids. He had however, remained passive and careful
so not incriminate himself into anything remotely dissenting. A model citizen as they say.

The past comes to haunt us like a recurring cold. A few days, the secret police took him at the early hours of the morning. Breaking down
his door. Questioning him for days. All due to somebody mentioning, he had spent time in prison for suspected Islamic activities.
His brother becoming worried, looked for him at police stations and prison. To no avail.

They found his body near the house, in a field. Tortured and shredded like my friends soul – to bits.

That is why I’m sad my friend. That is why I escaped to the UK, to get away from that crap. But you can never get away. It will always
come back to hurt you in the most vicious way possible. He was my brother and my the very human being who gave me joy everyday with
his smile.

I stared in silence, not knowing what to say. Silence, engulfed me and grief eventually took over.

I cannot fathom his anger, his pain. The reality hit me that he didn’t want to fast due to depression. He didn’t want to fast because
he had lost all hope. Lost hope in religion, love and life.

Perspective is a powerful thing. We take our freedoms for granted. Our comforts for granted. Life isn’t cheap here like it is abroad.
We can seek comfort and religion or whatever else we want, whenever we want.

Live your life, be happy and let all grudges go. Tragedies strike us everyday – but there are some tragedies that we cannot even fathom. They happen
everyday to the mirrors we call other humans beings across the world. See your reflection in them from time to time – and give them comfort.

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