THE TRUTH CAN BE A HARD PILL TO SWALLOW

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Chapter 19

Othello awakened refreshed and clear headed. His emotional release the previous evening lifted a thousand pounds of internal garbage off his shoulders. His physical situation was abysmal, but without the true desire or strength to take his own life, he had to find a way to move forward. And he was resolved to do so. He watched part of his new world come to life as the morning sun illuminated the darkness through the window. Beautiful cockatoos played and danced in trees, to the melodic sounds of finches calling out for mates. Large green geckos slowly navigated small delicate branches in search of their sunrise meals. It became clear to him that even the most insignificant of life will continue on, no matter the circumstance. It was time he faced his reality and looked at the world through his new eyes, find some way to discover his place in it.

As expected, Khan entered the room with a warm greeting, "Good morning, Mr. Greene. You look well rested. How do you feel?" he asked.

"I feel . . . as well as can be expected, under the circumstances."

"All praise due to Allah. I guess that's all any of us can expect. I see that you are speaking much better without the vocal device. Do you still wish to use it?"

"No, I don't believe it will be necessary," he said, moving his jaw around with his left hand. His voice still sounded off because of missing teeth. "I don't know how, but I believe my jaw is healed."

"Glory to Allah," Khan said in Arabic, adding, "He has truly blessed us with the absolute best medical staff," in English.

"So far, I cannot argue that. But do you think I could begin to eat regular food again, instead of receiving it through these tubes?"

"Ah, you've gotten your appetite back," Khan replied brightly. "I can't make you any promises. However, I will make an inquiry."

"Thank you," Othello replied awkwardly, realizing that they were being cordial. "I would appreciate that."

"So, are you up to revisiting the conversation we had several days back?" Khan asked.

"At the moment, Khan, I have nothing better to do."

A smile flashed across Khan's face and he pulled a chair up close to the bed. He wasted no time getting straight to it. "If I recall correctly, you have a dislike for Muslims, to put it mildly, because of at least three personal beliefs you attribute to them. Is that correct?"

"Yes, at least three," Othello responded.

"The first belief is that we are terrorists that kill innocent men, women, and children. Is that correct?" he asked.

"That's correct."

"The truth is that these actions do take place," Khan replied, with no reservations. "But they are not proper actions of Muslims. Let me show you . . . Ahmed."

"Yes, Khan," replied the computer-generated voice.

"Please lower the video screen and pull up Surah al Maida ayat 32 with the English translation."

"Yes, Khan," the computer replied, and the screen promptly lowered, displaying his request.

Khan beautifully recited the verse in Arabic and then repeated it in English: "I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaitan. In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful . . . on that account. So we decreed for the Tribe of Israel that if someone kills another person—unless it is in retaliation for someone else for causing corruption in the earth—it is as if he had murdered all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs, but even after that many of them committed outrages in the earth," he spoke slowly and clearly. "Here, Mr. Greene, Allah is telling us that because Qabil killed Habil when his offering was not accepted, better known to you as Cain and Abel, He prohibited killing without valid excuse, such as the retaliation of a murder or causing corruption in the earth."

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