He lives with his wife, Amy, and two perfect kids, John and Justin. I hope you can visualize this. They have a simple house with a lawn behind it where the kids play on weekends. Life is perfect, just like they show it in the first half of the movie. However, there is a twist in the tale.
Marshall has been living in the USA for his whole life. His grandfather, Masan Hussien, had migrated to USA from Pakistan in pursuit of the American dream. He left his past behind, married an American national and settled comfortably as a manager in a small travel company but, unfortunately, he died young. Their son took his mother’s last name and soon “Hussien” was lost in records and in spirit. This fact fascinated Marshall, about how his genes came from a land far away and yet there seemed to be no natural connection. In fact, it almost seemed like a rumor to him.
A young Marshall was once involved in a petty theft. Like everybody else, he had a rough patch too. However, he owed it to a policeman who let him go. He had looked into his eyes and said,” I see that you might be a good person, you don’t deserve this trial. I will call you when the time is right.” Marshall believed every word with utmost sincerity. That he was indeed a good person. That he did not deserve a trial. And, that he would be there when called upon.
When everything had fallen into place, there was a call. “Pack your bags” the voice said. Marshall knew he had to go.
He was picked up on the bus stop. He had no idea where he was off too. Finally he landed in a dusty room in a suburban building. He stayed there for a week and was told about the plan where he was to help the secret service officials get more information on the Taliban’s plans and details about the members’ lifestyle and so on. This was an undercover operation where they planted a representative in disguise to keep learning about the group. That day onwards, he was Marshall Hussein.
He was picked up on the border of a country. All he had to do was to say a code that was taught to him by the secret service agents and he was let to pass. In no time he was a part of the regime. He followed the strict timelines of training, exercise and sleep. He would listen to Akram, the best of leaders and also the best of orators. He seemed to have taken a liking for him. He had not seen a man so driven and one who was a father figure that everyone wanted to appease him and to be like him. Time flew. He lost track of how many days had passed since he had come here but he knew he was going to go back in exactly 25 days.
One fine day, a comrade commented in a hushed tone, “Sometimes, I wonder how it would be to be somewhere else, have a normal life, far away from here!”
Marshall retorted,” How can you think about being normal when He chose you to be here!”
It was in an instant with no thought but a second after that, a dreadful realization struck Marshall. His eyes were red and filled with tears. What had he said!? Why did he say that?? He ran away to a nearby pond away from everything that could influence him. It was dangerous, he would be in trouble if anyone found out he was missing. Nevertheless, he ran.
He stopped only when he reached the pond. Even the tranquil of the pond could not absorb the storm in Marshall’s head. He realized that Marshall and Marshall Hussein were two different people living inside him. Marshall was good, nice to people, liked by all. He even ensured that his family was taken care of when he left. Family… he trailed off.. he could see the faces of his children on the soft waves of the pond. No matter how much he tried, the faces would not get clearer. It hurt him how he abandoned them and how he didn’t seem to miss them a lot all these days. “But I did take enough care before I left and that should be enough”, he thought to himself. It is funny how in the depths of our hearts we know what we really care about but by the time these feelings reach our brains, they are covered in a mush to please others. It is when no one is looking that you find what you really want.
“This place has given me so much. I have never felt like a belonged or like I was a piece of an important purpose.”
“What is right or wrong anyway?”
As he thought more, his head hurt harder. He gathered two pieces of mirrors that lay near him and pointed his gun to each. “You are the one that does good. You love your family. And today you are helping the good people by being here. You deserve to live.” “You? You are sent by God to fulfil a purpose. To spread a message you believe in and to teach people to believe in Him again.” He frantically kept pointing his gun on both the pieces of mirrors but could not fire any.
”I see that you might be a good person, you don’t deserve this trial. I will call you when the time is right.” These words echoed in his ears. The third option was clear, he held the gun to his head and fired it.
What happens after death? The good people go to heaven and the bad people to hell? Or every soul, irrespective of what they did, has to pass through a tunnel through space in an endless journey where the pain of the journey is insurmountable but it doesn’t stop? Or, we simply come back as another person, all of us?
What is wrong? One that is right or what we are made to think is wrong or one we think others think is wrong? Maybe right is simply to live a modest life in a middle class family do no great right or no great wrong. Or maybe that is the worst sin! To keep living without a will to change the world and leave mark.
The right and wrong that determine your life are not clear, the repercussions of these rights and wrongs are not known to anyone, we are living a life that we can shape however each one of us wants to.
And perception, is simply the most complicated truth.
Bulla! ki jaana mai kaun
Not a believer inside the mosque, am I
Nor a pagan disciple of false rites
Not the pure amongst the impure
Neither Moses, nor the Pharoh
Lyrics: Translation of “Bulla ki Jaana” by Rabbi Shergill
P.S.: This post is not intended to hurt anyone, it is absolutely hypothetical.