Accused of Innocence – Short Story

Ali Tataousst is an undergraduate student of  English at the department of  English at Ibn Zohr University, Agadir. Most of his writings take the form of short stories, poems, and articles.

Essaouira, Morocco

It was a cold winter, and Ahmed was wearing nothing but a single coat which he had received as charity from one of the passengers who pitied his situation. Ahmed had already lost everything: his family, his friends, and almost his life.He had left his country, running away from the ravenous war, which stole from him the very early moments of his childhood and exposed him to a world where a child is executed just the same as an adult.

One day, he was sitting in a public garden watching agonizingly and nostalgically the happiness that glimmered in the faces of all those children who were there, playing and laughing with their parents, and remembering painfully how he had lost his own in the destruction of their house.He knew in the deepest corner of his heart that there was nothing he could have done to keep his family from the wave of death that hit his country and felt sorry for that. He thought of moving on, building a new life, starting over, but what was he in that vast world? He was a mere ten-year-old child who was good for absolutely nothing. He could not work or do anything to feed himself and keep his stomach from hunger that would inevitably send him to see his family in the other side of the world.

However, Ahmed was able to live from charity. The country to which he had moved as a refugee was full of kind hearts that were eager to help a poor little child. He hated to be pitied and hated more being dependent upon charity. With every novel day, he used to start a new adventure, looking for a place wherein to spend the rest of the day. He was usually taking shelter in public places where no one would yell at him saying: “Find yourself a new home, you naughty kid”.

For Ahmed, people in this new country are of two kinds; one whoare goodhearted enough to understand the situation of a lone child in need and do everything possible to help him; and anotherwho look at him with a furious face as if he had committed some kind of a crime against humanity. He was stuck with these people and realized that he could do nothing but get used to their behaviour towards him, no matter how hideous.

Another day came by, and Ahmed found himself sleeping at a train-station. The unbearable noise made by the train and the walking-people awoke him in a very early time; he couldn’t recall how he had reached that place or for what purpose! But he decided to stay and pull himself together so that he could start a new long journey. As he tried to stand on his feet, he felt an extreme pain and almost fell down, but with the help of a wall on his right side, he could finally stand upright. The reason for the pain was that the day before he had to run for his life after stealing an apple from a giant sailor.

While he was sinking deeply into his thoughts, a strange feeling occupied his heart; he felt that he was being watched; someone, somewhere, was watching him and trying not to be noticed. Suddenly, he saw the figure of a man approaching him in heavy steps. Ahmed couldn’t discern the face of the stranger, for the latter was wearing a cap that he extended to hide his face.

 The stranger was getting closer and closer, and Ahmed’s weak heart was beating faster and faster … ‘Who is that person? Why is he coming towards me? Why doesn’t he stop?’ Such were the questions that poured endlessly on his weary brain and remained thither, unanswered.

He made a considerable effort to move, but his small legs weren’t responding correctly to the instructions of his mind; they were frozen. Then, he came face to face with the stranger. “Hello, little kid!” said the Stranger kindly, albeit mischievously. “What does someone your age do here in this very early time?”

Ahmed could not feel his tongue; it was paralyzed. He couldn’t utter a word, but after a moment, he murmured something: “I….am………I’m…..” The Stranger interrupted him saying in a soft comforting voice, “Don’t be afraid, Kid; all I’m here for is to give you some help ….Do you have a name?”

“Ahmed,” said the boy.Revealing his name would do no harm to him, he thought.
Putting his arm on Ahmed’s, the Stranger said, “Come with me, poor boy;  I shall give you all that you need: shelter, food, clothes, and whatever you wish; otherwise,you’ll just die here waiting for a miracle to save you, and you know that the age of miracles is no more.”

”Die!” It was the word which moved Ahmed’s heart and mind; it took from him his family, and a shiny life he used to live, but it would not be his fate as well.
After a pause, Ahmed said confidently, “How can I trust you?”

The Stranger smiled, looked away for a moment,and then turned his eyes to Ahmed.The smile had vanished, and in its place was a decisive quiet laughter.He said addressing the poor boy, “For you have absolutely no other choice!”

It was true; Ahmed could not steal or depend on charities forever. Sooner or later, he would find himself alone, facing the guillotine of life, and no one would be there to help him. The stranger standing in front of him gave him one last drop of hope to start over, andheforgot his painful past.

Finally, Ahmed resolved to go with the stranger; he decided to undertake one last adventure. What were the intentions of the stranger? And what would he benefit from taking such a weak boy? Ahmed could not tell…but we all can; we can all tell the tournament that was awaiting such a lonely child. He is only a sample of uncountable children whose future no one could tell, and whose lives are as cheap to the world’s conscience as those of poisonous animals.  Their only fault was their innocence! 

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