Today’s book browsing leads us to an excerpt for The Refugee by S.A. Tameez, who reflected a bit a few weeks before publication.
S.A.Tameez writes …
With my novel, The Refugee, only four weeks away [at this writing] from its official release, one of the most frequent questions I have been asked is: Why did I choose the refugee topic to base my novel on?
To answer this, I must first tell you about the day I first got the inspiration for the story.
Almost a year ago, on a sultry summer’s night, as I sat in front of my computer writing a science fiction fantasy story called The Seventh Echo, I suddenly found myself unable to type another word. Not another darn word!
“Writer’s block?” I hear you ask. Not at all! The truth is, I have never wrestled with writer’s block in my life. I have more stories in my head than I have time left on this earth, I have no doubt. And those who know me can attest that I am never short of words. I couldn’t write any more of The Seventh Echo, a story that required me to explore the enthralling realms of quantum mechanics, because of something that I heard about earlier that day. Something so disturbing and heart wrenching that I could think of nothing else.
By this point, the media had maximised their newspaper sales, at the expense of washed up, dead bodies of refugee children. The refugee crisis was common knowledge around the globe – successfully turned from tragedy to a circus.
What sparked my interest was a story of a family that came to the refugee camp, escaping from war, only to have their son kidnapped from the camp, in the dead of night. Thankfully, this innocent 10-year-old boy was found alive the next day. He had, however, been savagely raped and then dumped.
Aside from this making me feel physically sick, it made me question what was going on with the thousands of children that were seeking refuge? Who was responsible for them? And the more I dug, the more questions arose, unearthing some distressing facts, like 10,000 unaccounted refugee children disappearing.
The fact that this was not of any huge concern made me realise that people had become desensitised to the catastrophic loss of life and “mysterious” vanishings of children. Refugees seemed almost less human than everyone else.
With this, I was unable to continue writing Seventh Echo. I stopped at 15,000 words and began writing The Refugee. A story inspired by the atrocious circumstances that the refugees are facing. Although no words can justly describe the horror that they are facing and there simply isn’t enough ink in this world to produce published accounts of all their tribulations, I hope the story’s message is clear.
The Refugee – Excerpt
by S.A. Tameez
“There!” Ahmed quietly cheered as he saw a ghostly silhouette of a large boat in the distance. “Come on…” They could see a few men with guns surrounding the boat. The guns raised higher as they got closer. “Please…we don’t want any trouble,” Ahmed said, his arms high.
“Paperwork!” one of the men demanded. His face was covered, except his menacing eyes, which sent chills running through Ahmed, forcing him to shiver as he handed over the papers that were in the black leather bag.
The man looked through the papers, then looked at Ahmed, then at Malik and Maryam. A second man now had the paperwork, he nodded, as if to say that they check out ok. The first man looked down at Maryam’s foot and noticed the blood. “Wait here…” He went back, and the men started murmuring among themselves in a language that Ahmed didn’t recognise.
“What is going on?” Maryam asked. Ahmed was getting paranoid, worried that paperwork was not okay. He began to question that everything was all right.
The first man strolled back. “You and boy go, but woman stay.”
“What?” Ahmed said, looking perplexed. “What do you mean? We have the correct paperwork for all of us, right?”
“You have paperwork…but woman cannot travel because of foot.”
“Why? She is fine. It’s just a cut…please, we need to get on that boat, all of us,” Ahmed pleaded.
“She not getting on. You have two minutes, or you stay, too,” the man said robotically.
Maryam began to cry as the man walked away. “Just go…take our son and save his life, I can’t bear to see him live like this,” she sobbed. Ahmed’s head began to spin.
“Ahmed…please, you don’t have much time, you have to go now. Think of our son.” She hugged Malik tightly, and her tears began to soak his shirt, triggering his own tears.
“I love you,” she whispered to Ahmed. His watery eyes filled with anger.
“I am not leaving you here!” He grabbed the leather bag and ran towards the men.
“Please…help us…I have money.” Money, a language that everyone understood. Ahmed reached into the bag and grabbed a handful of the euros, “Here!” He held out the notes. “Please let us all on that boat…please.” The man looked at Ahmed and then at Malik and Maryam. He pushed Ahmed’s hand back, “She will not make it. You have more chance if you leave her.” The man looked at them with a hint of compassion in his machine-like eyes.
“I’ll take my chances…please.” Ahmed begged, “please…let us all on.” Ahmed offered the money again. “Keep money…you will need it.” The man nodded. “Get on – all of you.”
“Thank you…thank you.” Ahmed ran back to Maryam and Malik.
“Come on, let’s go.”
They rushed onto the boat as fast as they could, Ahmed hoping, praying, that the man didn’t change his mind.
Maryam was, as usual, as paranoid as ever, any minute now…any minute, he is going to say stop, and they would all stand there laughing – this was a cruel joke that they were playing. Her legs were wobbly, or maybe it will be worse, perhaps they will just open fire and compete against each other on who had the most accurate shot…
“Stop!” one of the men with guns yelled. I knew it Maryam thought. She closed her eyes and shielded Malik with her body.
S.A. Tameez will appear for book signing at
High Wycombe Library
on November 25, 2017 from 2:00 – 3:00 (p.m.)
About the author ….
Sajjad Tameez was born in Buckinghamshire, England. He gained a profound interest in writing from a young age, particularly in the field of science fiction fantasy. After completing his BA honours degree in network security and management, and also artificial intelligence, he began work on his first novel, Lehthra.
After successfully publishing his sci-fi novel and promoting it in Waterstones, he went on to write many short stories.