El Mawardi Cafe, al-Rabiya
I was meeting my friend Rami for the first time since he relocated to Jordan since 2005, he has brought his friend, Mohammed, with him. Mohammed is a very pleasent, good-natured kid, he's three years younger than both of us, and he's a Shiite. Rami is also a Shiite, but his mother is a Sunni. After a pleasant introduction and a slew of jokes to break the ice, I asked Mohammed why did he move to Jordan. This is what he said:
My father, Ali, runs a contracting firm in al-Harthiya district in Baghdad. Six months ago, masked gunmen broke into his firm, beat my father until he was unconscious, then took him and dumped him in the trunk, and rode on...my father woke up shortly thereafter, and the first thing he did was empty his pocket of all the business cards of foreign firms. After a long and bumpy ride, the gunmen took my father and threw him in an empty room in a deserted, dirty house. They accused him of working with the crusading occupation.
The gunmen called on Mohammed's family, and demanded a big chunk of money as ransom (I can't remember the exact amount, but it was impossible), they wanted it in two days notice or his father will be beheaded.
Those two days were, needless to say, frantic. In between sits with his mother, his uncles and cousins, and selling everything they can get their hands on...Mohammed's family managed to obtain the desired sum.
As for his father, the Mujahideen said to him: You shall spend the day alone, tomorrow the Emir will come and decide what your fate shall be.
and with these words, they left. and Ali slept.
With the fact that Ali's father deals with foreign firms (Mohammed didn't say exactly what was the type of business) and his Shi'ism, there was little chance that the Emir will persuaded to understand the concept of mercy in this case. Also bear in mind that back in 2005, sectarain killings weren't as audacious as they were today, they were usually veiled in ransoms.
Sometime after that, Ali's father woke up, alone. After a time of defeated idleness...Ali decided that he will not go down without a fight, he tried with all his might to do something about the rope that ties his hands...after much wriggling, the rope somewhat let loose and he was freed - after a brief euphoria, Ali realized that nothing much has been achieved, perhaps the Mujahideen didn't care much about tying him up, because the room was locked and there was only a small, high window that will not provide exit to anything but a cat.
So this is how it ends, huh?
Ali's father looked around, gave up and cried...
Is there a God? the question was posed for centuries past, but in this particular case, I strongly think so.
As as footnote, Ali's father decided to feel the bricks in the wall, which was unpainted. Lucklily, one brick was loose...Ali's father did all what he can to further pull the brick out of way, after much work and effort, he did pull it out, and used it to destory the adjacent bricks.
Half an hour later, Ali's father went out in the open like a madman who has never seen the sun...the area in which he was was semi-barren, he went running into the middle of the desert, people who were in the area fled, and as he was crying for help from a pick-up truck, the driver alarmingly drove away, Ali's father collapsed in the middle of the street.
10 minutes later, however, the pick-up truck returned, carried Ali, and provided water and food for him. He drove him down into Ramadi, found a way for him to get into Baghdad, and wished him well with these words: "This is just you know that not everyone in Ramadi are bad people. I bid you farewell."
Ali's father returned late that day, the next morning, Mohammed and his uncles were supposed to hand a briefcase filled with cash to the Mujahideen in exchange for Ali's safety.
They were sitting dead silent when Ali's father came banging on the door....his mother cried again, but this time it was tears of joy.
The next day, Mohammed, his father Ali, his mother and his siters were on the road leading to Ramadi again, but this time they weren't stopping until they reach all the way to Amman, Jordan.
NOTE: The father's real name is not Ali, in the previous story, the boy was actually named Omar. I am recounting the story from my memory, so several details may be missing.