I know there are some of you who have read Refuge followed by Resilience and are waiting to see Charlie and Noor’s fate in Book 3. Last week Nick gave us a preview on Refuge’s Facebook
“As I am embarking on the third book, I am re-reading the old book three. Plenty of things will need to change but I am surprised how much still works and how much I am enjoying it. Anyway I thought I would share with you the first paragraphs … remember they are written in Charlie’s voice …
I always heard the crackle of the speaker however deeply asleep I was.
After eight years, nine months and twenty-twodays of calling this cell in Buraydah prison my home my very being was attunedto anticipate it. Most often, and this day was no exception, it was followed bya couple of vigorous coughs and a snort. And then the imam began to wail thewords of the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer.
For the next couple of minutes I lay on my back as he extolled Allah as the greatest, Muhammad as his messenger and urged the prisoners to make haste towards prayer because prayer is better than sleep. I always took issue with the last part. How I yearned for a couple more hours.
Of course the words he recited were in Arabicnot English but by now I was almost fluent in the former. I had realized earlyon that if I was to survive in this place I needed to learn the language andKadhim, my closest cellmate, had agreed to teach me. Even to this day he wouldcorrect my pronunciation though it gave me great pride that he had fewer andfewer opportunities to do so.
As I lay there I rearranged my threadbareblanket and tucked it under my body. It made little difference. Now awake I hadalready begun to shiver. I felt Kadhim undo the piece of cloth that we, withoutfail, tied to each other’s ankles before going to sleep and then heard himscuttle about looking for his sandals. I formed smoke rings with my frozenbreath in a futile attempt to divert my mind from my freezing state. How Ihated December. Here deep in the desert it got cold at night, even in summer,but in December the temperatures got so low you thought you were perched on theface of a Himalayan mountain.
As the only kafir,non-Muslim, in the prison I was exempt from fajr,the morning prayer. It gave me an extra thirty minutes in bed and when I firstarrived I had taken full advantage of it, languishing there in self-pity. Butwhen I finally got my mind straight and formed a certain discipline in my lifeI came to realize that these thirty minutes were too valuable to waste. Theywere after all the only minutes in my day when I was truly alone.
I glanced across at my forty cellmates allstanding by the door each of them lost in their own thoughts. A buzzer soundedand with a click the cell door slid open. They ambled off to the courtyard andI began my countdown from sixty to zero. As the numbers decreased my regret athaving to get up only increased yet when I uttered ‘zero’ I sprang up from mymat, (to call it a mattress would be to exalt it into a bracket that it did notbelong), and planted my feet on the icy floor.“
If you haven’t read Nick’s books yet, spoil yourself this Christmas (and some friends) and read them. You won’t be disappointed.
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