Once Upon a Time…There Was a Martyr

Local Editor*

Tanks and military vehicles were all over the roads, and the soldiers watched the entire place. It was a crossing point where people waited for days to get “assent” to reach their towns or the capital (Beirut).

He got off his car and walked steadily to the investigation chamber. His eyes glowed with fury. The “Israeli” investigator examined his face and the photograph posted onto his identity card. In an ineptly accented language, the investigator asked him whether he had been in Saudi Arabia. “Yes,” he briefly answered. That was enough to exclude his name from the list of “terrorists'”. Having clinched his fist, he could hardly avoid punching the investigator in the face. He walked back to his car as soon as he was allowed to leave.

The driver he sat beside didn’t bother to stop speaking about politics, the current security situation, the high living cost, and anything that would eventually blame him for coming back to his homeland. How could one enjoying this golden chance waste it by returning to a country manipulated by war? But he kept quiet all the way, staring at the roads, most of which had been turned into mounds and checkpoints… Hardly could he breathe in any air… Even the tree leaves of the orchards along the seashore of Sour city (Tyr) resembled captives beyond bars…

Could that be the South?! Was it the beautiful city of Sour any longer?! Then why did shell smoke mask away sunlight?! Where were the little yellow flowers sprouting all over the town?! And what about the wild flowers with the scent of earth which inspired souls?! Besides, where were the kids sneaking to the roads to play ball?! Behind which curtained window had freedom hidden?!

It was hard for the car to cross all of those roads. The situation was too throbbing; agony grew wilder every time he reached a new town…

He reached his town, where he walked with his heavy suitcase in hand. While his family eagerly waited for him, he was anticipating the moment he would meet his father… For a while, he anticipated his father’s eyes blaming him for returning home… He had been enjoying a productive job in Saudi Arabia, and his family did need such an income, especially in that harsh time of war. Actually, that war left no room for good but rooted poverty wherever the “Israeli” tanks went…

“I could not stay there,” he said to his father in a soft voice, “It is hard to be away from home when occupation forces strike… Imagine that I needed “assent” to get home… But I promise you, dad, I promise I’m going to send those soldiers to hell…” His father patted his shoulder and held his arm tight, “I’ve been waiting for you…”

The smell of the bread his mother was baking at dawn woke him up. He prayed and went out to sit near her. He began to fuel the saj (traditional bread oven) fire with short wood sticks. The low crackle of fire pleased him, and the smell was so lively…

When he met his friends, they said they were headed by His Eminence Sheikh Ragheb Harb at every Friday prayers. His friends added the Sheikh’s sermons overwhelmed the Zionists…

As his friends retold some of Sheikh Ragheb Harb’s statements, he was impassioned… He adored the Sheikh even before seeing him… Wouldn’t that be the case sometimes?

Hardly could he wait for Friday… He got ready early and started the pickup, transporting fresh vegetables he would sell at his father’s shop, just like every day. Two friends sat in the front, while the others sat at the back…
Fast he set off to Jibshit… But wait a minute! He slowed down and got off his pickup truck, getting closer to a sign reading Hebrew letters… He looked at his friends, “What the heck is this?!”

“It’s the town’s name,” one of them said, “The enemy has replaced the Arab signs with Hebrew ones so that the soldiers would find their way…”

Hearing so, he grabbed the sign pole and shook it forcefully until he uprooted it. Then he placed it in his pickup. Breathing out loud, he told his friend, “Well, we do not want the “Israeli” soldiers to find their way…”

All along the way, he kept getting off his pickup, uprooting signs, and placing them in the pickup trunk. Now the trunk was full of signs!

Having reached Jibshit, he met Sheikh Ragheb Harb… It was one of the happiest moments of that dark-skinned young man’s life. He heard the Sheikh saying, “Martyrs’ blood is received by Allah, and whatever Allah receives grows plenty.” Now all he could see were daisies spread above martyrs’ bodies…

Every morning his pickup truck transported vegetables, under which were firearms that the Resistance fighters would be expecting to get… As he drove through “the Bus region”, he could neither accept having to wait at the “Israeli” checkpoint nor seeing the headquarters of the “Israeli” military “governor”… Just like he uprooted the signs, he uprooted that headquarters… And his blood wrote the name of the southern towns, “Welcome to Deir Qanoun an-Nahr…”

This story “Keep in Mind, I’m an Arab” is dedicated to the Self-Sacrifice Martyrs’ Prince Ahmad Jaafar Qasir. *Written Nisreen Idriss on behalf of the martyrs association–obtained and translated by moqawama.org 

 
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
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