Who am I?
I am Mohammad.
There are other Muhammeds here
I hear them
They come and go, so many faces, so many voices.
Muhammed is kind, he saves me scraps of food
and shields me from the others.
Where am I?
So many Muhammeds here, but I,
I am Mohammad.
Where are all the children?
The little children have all grown up,
so many children.
Where are the little girls?
The boys are here with sticks and guns.
They did not listen to me.
Why are they in my bedroom?
I have come to help my people
and they will not listen.
There is a man doing his business in my room
business, I remember, I am a businessman.
A businessman, a man of standing
He is not standing, he squats
in my bedroom.
I must call the police. Why is he here?
The door will not open, they are laughing
‘Stupid old man’ ‘come away’
hands pulling, jeering.
The door opens
The room is empty.
Another man comes in, a policeman.
He will help me, he has a gun.
I am a businessman, a man of standing.
He speaks, who are you?
‘I am Mohammad.’
There is so much noise. So many voices, shouting, screaming, so loud that I feel they are inside my head. Even at night the voices continue, moaning, crying, calling.
Everything has changed. I remember visiting the school, the school that I founded, so proud and happy to see the children playing. Happy to see the little girls running in the schoolyard, playing and learning as well as the boys.
I was watching, feeling so proud, calling out to the children, and then the people around me started to move away. They stared at me with fear and hate in their eyes.
I didn’t understand – they should have come to me not run from me. I called out again, I told them not to fear, I told them who I was.
The guards came with guns and batons, I thought they were coming to see me, to hear my words. They came to me, but not to hear me. They came to strike me, beat me, bind me. They shouted at me to hold my filthy tongue, to get on the ground.
They were shouting, the people were shouting, so much noise. The noise was in my head, it was so loud. I could not hear my thoughts, so much confusion, so much noise. They pulled a hood over my head so I could not see, there was only the noise, the voices.
I was pushed into a truck, one of the men struck me across my legs as I stumbled. The engine started, I did not know how many men there were but they were still shouting. The voices were too loud, I did not know what they said.
Time passed. How much time? How many days? I was given medicine, they did not say what, to be quiet they said. To shut my filthy mouth they said. They told me I was in prison, that I was waiting for a trial, that I would die.
I did not understand. I do not know where I am. I have seen no one except the men who beat me when they bring my food. I have learned to feign sleep. There is no one else in my room but I know that I am not alone. I can hear the others, they call, they speak to me. Who will die?
Where am I? This is not a hotel, even in the small towns in this country the rooms to rent are clean and dry. I have forgotten where I was and how I got here. They are still speaking to me, they shout at me when I sleep and when I wake. ‘Answer the question’ – but what is the question? I have told them who I am and I do not know how I got here. I told them that they must know, that they brought me here, and then they strike me and tell me to be quiet. How can I answer the question if I must be quiet?
They wake me, pulling me up, telling me to go with them. I am going to the court for the trial. I do not understand. A trial means there has been wrongdoing. I have been wrongdoing they say. When was I wrongdoing? What did I do? There is no sense.
I am in the courtroom, I am on trial. It is very fast. The noises are still there, I have to speak, to tell them that I am a good man, there is a mistake. I try to speak but I cannot. It is finished, the guards have come to take me to the prison. They tell me not to speak.
This is a different room. No, not a room, a cell. Dark and dirty, a hole in the floor to do my business. There are other men here – I think they are the men from the schoolyard. They have the same eyes, filled with hate and fear. They are not my friends.
The guards give me medicine and I sleep. When I wake the men have eaten my food, but I do not care. I sleep again. Is this a dream?
The voice tells me not to be afraid, to tell the guard when he comes. He comes into my room with his gun, he pushes me in front.
I shout at him, My name is Mohammed, I will save you.