Daran taught you how to pray like him. A prayer unlike your own. It fascinated you how he would raise his hands up to his ears before saying “Allahu Akbar,” then clasp them in front of him looking intently at his feet.
You told Daran bible stories you learned in Sunday school. Jonah and the whale was his favorite story. He always laughed whenever he remembered it. He would say, “Jonah must not have been able to wash off the fish smell till he died,” and would continue laughing.
You were too young to notice your mother’s subtle reaction when Daran told her he was a Muslim. You expected your mother to act the same way Daran’s mother did when you visited him—with smiles, and offers of food and drinks. But she did not.
As soon as Daran left your mother called you aside. She told you Daran is Muslim and might as well be part of the radical group you had heard about: the Boko Haram. “They are evil people,” your mother went on. “All Muslims are bad people. Don’t associate with them.”
And just like that, Daran ceased to be your friend. You saw him as something evil.