Archive for June, 2011

Jihad of the Heart – episode 4

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

This is the final episode of the story.  If you haven’t read episode 1, start here.

Javeed’s lawyer confronts him at the break.  “You didn’t shave this morning!”  Javeed doesn’t bother to answer.  He didn’t shave yesterday either.

David brings his face down close, nose to nose, so that Javeed smells the lawyer’s sandwich.  “To win this we each have a job to do,” David tells him.  “My job is to argue your case.  Your job—no less critical—is to present yourself as the guy you were before you were arrested.  A professional engineer, a proud Canadian, a young husband looking to build a life for yourself and your wife.  You can’t afford to let this stuff get you down!  Now, I’m going to hoof it to the hotel and beg a free razor; you can shave in the washroom.  Another thing—you fell asleep in court yesterday.  If you won’t eat, at least have an energy drink!”  He hands Javeed a bottle of bright repulsive liquid. (more…)

Jihad of the Heart – episode 3

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

This is episode 3 of a story about life insurance and the law.  If you haven’t read episode 1, start here.

Javeed’s journal: Apr. 1st, 2089.   Federal Corrections Facility Abbotsford.  This morning I was outside with nothing between me and the open sky—the almost-infinite blue across which puffy clouds blew freely from the wire-topped fence on the west side of the yard to the same fence on the east.  Birds fly over the fence, in and out.  The robots on the corner towers pay no attention to them.  We men, who know we are being watched, do not go near the fence.

I got a call from the Canadian Civil Liberties Union, some kind of liberal-minded NGO.  The guy said I shouldn’t give up hope.  I said nothing—but kept listening.  In the CCLU’s opinion my trial was a travesty.  I was incompetently represented.  Instead of hanging up, which I should have done, I said, “Tell me something I don’t know.” That only encouraged him.   He said there are grounds for an appeal.  I told him I’m already in debt, expecting him to back off, but he did not.  He said money was no concern—an important principle of law is at stake, and the CCLU is ready to fight for it.   I’d be represented by a team of top lawyers, CCLU members passionately committed to overthrow the terrible precedent set by my case.  Moreover, I’d qualify for legal aid!  There are several grounds for appeal, including egregious lapses of duty of my former counsel (may he eat flies!), all the way to potential conflicts with the Charter of Rights.  Would I launch an appeal?

“At no cost to me?” I repeated, to be crystal clear.

“No cost whatever.”

It being April Fool’s Day, and being a fool myself, obviously, I agreed to meet their lawyer, Mr. David Ogilvie.

As I just now read in the Qur’an, “Fighting  is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.”  So I fight. (more…)

Jihad of the Heart – episode 2

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

This is episode 2 of a story about life insurance and the law.  If you haven’t read episode 1, start here.

Javeed’s first day in court lasts all of ten minutes.  The crown prosecutor—Vinod Dasgupta, JD—requests a three-week delay, to March 14.  Justice Mackenzie grants the request.  Javeed is disgusted that Darren doesn’t object.  “Javeed, bud, there’s a simple thing called playing by the rules.”


Rex vs. Amiri. On the morning of March 14, Javeed finds himself at Darren’s elbow listening to the theory of his life according to Mr. Dasgupta.  The Crown will show that although Javeed purchased life insurance for himself as soon as he was married, he did not suggest a policy for his wife.  That the marriage began to deteriorate in the fall of 2086, when the couple came under financial pressure as interest rates rose sharply after they bought their condo.  That an expected year-end bonus from Javeed’s employer failed to materialize, and so did a hoped-for promotion.  That Javeed was chronically over-optimistic about his prospects, and clueless about the financial health of his employer.  That, unlike Javeed, Laila made an astute career move, landing a better-paid and more responsible job in the emergency ward where she worked.  That Javeed urged her not to take the promotion; in fact, implored her to cut her working hours, even leave the workforce entirely, despite the couple’s obvious inability to meet their obligations on his salary alone.  That Naser, the couple’s friend, who worked as a paramedic at the same hospital, helped Laila make her move, and tried his best to help Javeed see that it was in their interests.  Tried in vain.

The Crown will also show that Javeed neglected to go in for a refresher scan on his policy’s anniversary date, although he continued to pay the premium, thereby ensuring his old backup would remain on file.  That there was no plausible motive for this failure to update, other than Javeed’s belief, confirmed in his journal, that it would allow him to evade responsibility for his actions. (more…)

Jihad of the Heart – episode 1

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

“Jihad” is a story/thought experiment about our legal system coming to grips with restorative life insurance.  What happens to someone who is charged with a crime committed by his later self?  It is also about the Canadian immigrant experience, a few years down the road.

It’s Canada Day.  But he and Laila are not at any of the usual patriotic festivities—they wander the heat-softened asphalt of the Playland midway breathing vivid airs of onion rings, candy floss and puke.  They don’t speak, except with clasped hands and their eyes—of lying entangled and sticky on sun-struck sheets, that long holiday morning.  The Maple Leaf snaps overhead.  Hucksters lean from booths offering three balls, knock down the jugs and win a bear for her—Javeed waves them off, knowing the game is fixed.  Now she points to something she wants—a flailing horror of cartoon teacups.  He laughs—“No, Laila!  My stomach won’t stand it.  Let’s try that one” —the ferris wheel, stately benches rising into the blue view in which lovers can lose themselves.  But she has pulled away.  A carny opens a door and she almost collapses into the arms of Canadian strangers.  The machine starts up, leaving him, Javeed the engineer, inspecting the mechanism, greased rods and pistons blackly abused.  A bolt is loose. “Laila!”  She spins up, and then he knows—but cannot watch her fly off the handle.

Javeed finds himself on his back under a light blanket, full of panic that begins to fade as he sorts out dream from reality.  On his cot in the Detention Centre.  Again.  How many times has he woken, in just one night, to find himself here?  The light is too bright.  He understands why they keep a light on.  But why so bright?

The first of how many nights?

The first and only!  He did nothing wrong.  This is Canada, not Tehran; not the hell-hole of Guantanamo either.  Canada is a country of peace, as he learned in immigration class, and good government—and a third thing, order—gentle and tolerant, welcoming of newcomers.  The lawyer will return and explain everything at tedious length.  There will be apologies all round.  They will let him go home.  Let him go…where?  He heard his address had changed.   Home to what, exactly?

They said he was charged with….  “That’s insane!  You’re talking about my wife and my friend!”  But it’s useless to argue with the police. (more…)