Good Photoshop Skills Required

by Shumon Basar

In Beckett’s famous play, Waiting for Godot, Vladimir and Estragon debate the existence of God(ot), threaten to leave, but remain fixed where we found them. Two friends, united by history, disunited by personal beliefs, wondering where exactly they should spend their last days on earth. And in whose name. Below are two other friends, in a different landscape, disunited by what comes next.

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Photo by Natasha Stallard

“I’m going to join the Islamic State.”

“You mean ISIS?”

“No. Islamic State.”

“You mean ISIL?”

“No. Are you deaf? Islamic State. The Caliphate. It’s new.”

“Define ‘new’.”

“Since June.”

“Technically, not ‘new’.”


The first man grimaces.


“Did they ask you to go?”

“I watched a video.”

“The video asked you to go?”

“They need people with ‘Good Photoshop skills’.”

“You’re serious?”

“I’ve never been more serious my whole life.”

“I’ve known you your whole life.”


The second man stays calm.


“A higher cause. Subhan Allah.”

“What if I said you’re misguided? Would you…”

“…behead you?”


The first man is without noticeable expression.


“I did not watch the videos.”

“I did.”

“I don’t need to see the videos.”

“I did.”


The second man has downcast eyes. Hope. Where is hope?


“I have known you your whole life,” says the second man, “and loved you like a brother; and I am telling you, with the love of a brother, that you are misguided in every possible way. There isn’t scripture to defend you.”


The first man has not finished packing his suitcase. What will he need to take?


“Nation states are blasphemy.”

Blasphemy is blasphemy.”

“Don’t beat me with your Westernised words.”

“Don’t use my Wi-Fi to download Jihadist propaganda.”


The second man unplugs his router.


“You can come with me.”

“My Photoshop skills are non-existent.”

“Final Cut Pro?”

“Never heard of it.”



“Yes. Really.”


The first man had never heard of a hashtag until hashtagendofSykesPicot.


“It’s not too late.”


“A change of heart.”

“Do not question my heart. My faith. My purpose.”

“Faith without questioning is not faith but a simple programme.”


“Will you force me at gunpoint to pay a tax for being a Sophist?”

“You’re not funny.”

“Exactly. Funny or die?”



The second man wants to laugh. He would love to be able to laugh it off. He can’t.


“So you’re coming?”


“The IS?”


“I told you. I-dot-S-dot.”

“You’re going now?”



They do not move.


The earth turns.


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