Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Fiction, Philosophy
Convinced that God is a negative force, tormenting the helpless human race, an ailing English professor becomes determined to put the deity on trial. But when he’s diagnosed with schizophrenia, he soon succumbs to the damning madness and brutally stabs and kills his wife. And in the deadly manhunt that ensues, he is ultimately shot dead by the police. This prompts his grieving sister to follow through his life’s mission to bring God to justice.
He’s now back home in California. It is another night. That tantalizing sensation overtakes his natural senses again. Growing up, he always felt a sense of discomfort that was unrelated to his illnesses, and he still feels it now. He never has been able to identify the source of his severe and unusual discomfort. He wonders whether it was his family, religion in general, or society, with its unscrupulous culture.
He thinks of his parents. “Sadly, They were at odds,” he hears himself utter. “And rightfully so.”
His mother was at home, taking care of five kids, and his father was either working or endlessly playing. His mother had a tender soul. She was simple, affectionate, and caring, and loved her children dearly. The child in him sees her before him as a pretty young woman with fair skin, brown hair, and large brown eyes. She stands by his bed; she is neither too tall nor too short and neither too slim nor too heavy, but she is mysterious. Though his mother probably never knew it, she has had an immense impact on his life that continues with him until this moment of certain hallucination.
He becomes fully awake. It is 2:25 a.m. He gets up and decides to make a cup of espresso forte. After breaking a couple of coffee cups, spilling coffee all over his kitchen counter and floor, and mumbling a few expletives, he cleans up. Now he is calm; now he will taste the fruit of his coffee-making adventure; he places the cup on his desk and starts to write.
I’m not sure my parents’ odd relationship had any effect on me. I was a happy child tormented by religion and religious people’s hallucinations. I was tormented by Egyptian hypocrisy. I’ve seen a great deal of hypocrisy, child abuse, infidelity, abuse of women, and abuse by the government, churches, and mosques.
He hears the voice of his mother; during his childhood she always read to him in bed before he went to sleep. Now she reads from the Bible. In both her wisdom and lack of awareness, she reads from the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelations. This exposure to apocalyptic writing at a very young age has had a profound effect on him.
Being imaginative, and in this phantasmagoric state, he now experiences the same fright he experienced as a child. He returns to bed and suddenly falls asleep but is soon awoken by one of his many epileptic seizures. His body shakes uncontrollably, and his tremors seem to have a mind of their own.
As his attack gradually dissipates, he thinks of the savagery of God and questions why a peaceful God would be so cruel and nasty. These thoughts make him feel even more terrified. Since childhood he has been petrified of that entity referred to as “God.”
At age seven or eight, he developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder. He’d repeat the phrase “God forgive me” to himself all day until he went to bed. He kept this a secret because he had no idea how his mother, siblings, or Zakia would react. He remembers that he often went to Zakia, who was a Muslim, and asked her to hold him. She would oblige, and he would feel protected, even from that savage God.
He gets out of bed. It is 3:42 a.m. He makes another cup of espresso forte and sits at his desk, thinking. Again he writes.
This phase simply shaped my feelings about whether God does indeed exist. I often thought I’d be better than him or her or it, for I would not be as cruel, brutal, or malicious. Today I am an agnostic, and I can’t get myself to understand why anyone would believe in such a God as depicted in the holy books, including the Bible.
In addition to the Bible, there were other sources of great damage. Egypt is an Islamic country. I was exposed to and forced to learn about Islam and its holy book, the Quran, which is like the Bible in its catastrophic content. I was forced to learn about the Islamic laws, Sharia, even though I was a Coptic. I did so in schools, and I did so in everyday affairs. I was even forced to memorize and recite verses from the Quran, which also had a negative impact on me.
The daily prayers announced over loudspeakers, and coming from all directions, were a frightening experience for me. Everywhere in Egypt, between each mosque there is a mosque, and even that wasn’t enough. The radio broadcasted Quran readings repeatedly. Even today the memory of these sounds brings a deep downheartedness to my soul.
I remember Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric who’s in a North Carolina prison now for conspiring to commit terrorism. His mosque was right behind our house. I remember Abdel-Rahman’s Friday sermons. He’d curse the Christians, Jews, and Americans (I don’t know why he cursed Americans) publically over a loudspeaker that echoed miles away. The sheikh would scream in a screeching, deafening voice, “May God burn them and displace their children, and may God burn their houses.” The congregation would repeat, “Amen.” And the pattern would continue.
This persisted for a long time. We were so used to it, however, that it didn’t bother us much. The amazing thing is that Sheikh Abdel-Rahman was a friend of my father’s. He often visited my father at his law firm and spent hours talking with him. My father considered him a harmless, kind man.
Well, for once my father was wrong. The sheikh always has been a terrorist, and he put his evil spirit into action. Fortunately he’s in prison now. I hope he never gets out.
He stops writing for a minute and wonders how the United States allowed that savage man to enter this country. Where was American intelligence? Didn’t they know how radical Abdel-Rahman was? This was simply bizarre. But the United States government overlooks such things so often that he wonders whether the word intelligence is fitting at all.
His mind is racing, and he grows exhausted with the burden of thoughts. Hoping for a few minutes of sleep, he goes back to bed. His hope materializes, or perhaps he thinks so; at the very least, he is semi-asleep.
About Sabri Bebawi:
The middle of five children, Sabri Bebawi was born in 1956 in the town of Fayoum, Egypt, where he attended law school at Cairo University. He then left Egypt for the United Kingdom. He was invited by Oxford University, where he spent some time, and never returned to Egypt. A few years later, after living and working in England, Italy, France, and Cyprus, he took refuge in the country he loved most, the United States.
In California he studied communications at California State University, Fullerton, then obtained a master’s degree there in English education. Later he worked at many colleges and universities teaching English as a second language, freshman English, journalism, and educational technology. He did further graduate work at UCLA and obtained a PhD in education and distance learning from Capella University.
Although English is his third language, he has published many works in English on eclectic topics. It has always been his ambition to write novels, and this is his first attempt. As English is a foreign language to him, the task of writing a novel has been challenging.
As a child, Bebawi struggled to make sense of religions and their contradictions; in fact he grew up terrified of the word God. As he grew older and studied law, as well as all the holy books, he developed a more pragmatic and sensible stance; the word became just that—a word.
Connect With The Author:
Author Sabri Bebawi is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and two autographed print copies of his book! The gift card giveaway (rafflecopter) is open internationally. The Goodreads’ giveaway is open to residents of the USA, CA, GB, and AU. Both giveaways will run 4/21/14 – 5/19/14.