Every night I go to bed saying to myself tomorrow is going to be another day and I will write about how beautiful nature is. How beautiful the trees, the flowers, the birds and everything are around me. Come morning, a few minutes on the internet after I wake up and halfway through my second coffee everything has already changed.
I don’t see the beauty surrounding me anymore, I don’t feel it. My heart fills with all the heartache from all the killings and sufferings in different parts of the world. I see pictures of children decapitated by bombs and shrapnel in Gaza, missiles and rockets falling on them. I read about the parents of abducted girls by Boko Haram being killed by the same rebels that kidnapped their girls and sold them for prostitution in the name of Allah.
While in most parts of the world people are protesting against the bombing of Gaza, the militants are continuing their horrific acts against their own people. These militants are from the people themselves. There’s nothing worse than when your fellow citizen, your friend, your brother, your colleague turns his back on you and sees you as his enemy. Overnight he becomes the oppressor and you the oppressed.
“Nayla stepped out for the first time that morning and looked around her. On the other side of the street a group of three men in khaki uniform stood conversing. One of them, the one with black sunglasses and hands in his pocket, walked towards the two women. She recognized him. He was the one she had given the note to, the one with the wife and two kids. Could they have been driving in circles then? What were the gunmen trying to do? Were they waiting to kill him and afterwards rape and torture her and perhaps leave her on the street to die? What have they done to him? She wanted to ask him about Samer. She opened her mouth to speak but the words wouldn’t come out. She could hear her teeth chatter in her mouth. She was shaking all over. Her feet gave way. The gunman grabbed her by the shoulders to prevent her from falling on the ground, while Kawkab ran inside a house. A glass in her hand, she hurried back.
“Drink this!” she ordered Nayla. “It’s water with some sugar in it. It’s good for you.”
She couldn’t hold the cup in her hands. Kawkab held it for her to drink. She wasn’t trembling anymore. She felt so weak. She couldn’t even feel the glass on her lips. They were so numb. She was so very numb.
Kawkab helped her sit back in the car. Then turning around she screamed at the gunman with black sunglasses, hysterically. “See what you’ve done to her? Why? Why you do this to innocent people always? My son is in this with you. I don’t want him on the streets. I don’t like his being one of you. If only his father were alive, Zaki would never have dropped out of school and joined your gang.” A tear rolled down Kawkab’s cheeks. “This is all so stupid. This is madness. The whole country has gone crazy.” She wiped her eyes with the back of her right hand and in a desperate voice asked the gunman, “Do you like what you do, son? Honestly?”
“Calm down Aunt Kawkab. I only do what they order me to. My wife and I fight all the time. I miss her, I miss the kids. I haven’t seen her or the kids for almost a month now. She tells me she doesn’t like me to be on the streets. Tell you the truth, I don’t like it either. But I don’t feel comfortable anywhere, anymore; neither at home nor on the streets.”
Kawkab took a deep breath. “You know Nayla, when he came and told me about you and your husband I called Zaki. I asked him to talk to his superiors about Samer. You know what his answer was to me? He told me that at times like this there was little, or in some places, no control at all over what the gunmen did. It was a matter of personal loss. There was nothing any superior could do about those gunmen’s motives to kill anyone. It was all a matter of luck. Let’s just pray that Samer will be lucky today,” she looked at Nayla’s ashen face and shook her head.
Nayla could feel the tears that were accumulating behind her already wrinkled eyelids. Would she and Samer be lucky? Nayla thought. Your luck ran out on you the moment you fell into the hands of these gunmen. She remembered having read a scene from Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” about the Spanish civil war. It described a mob killing some men, pushing them over some cliffs. The more frightened these men became, the more the crowd cheered.
At that moment the gunman with the black sunglasses came and took the driver’s seat. He didn’t have a kalashnikov but his pistol hung from his belt. He started the engine. Once again Nayla was in the car with a gunman and a woman she had only met that morning. They were taking her to see her husband. The only familiar thing around her was her husband’s blue Renault in which they were driving. Nayla took a deep breath. If only she’d had a chance to exchange a few words with Samer before they took him. If only he’d looked once, just once, in her direction before he had walked away from her in front of the gunman. A simple “Don’t worry, sweetheart” would have been enough for his part, even though it would have been a mere pretence under the circumstances. But he had just walked away, leaving her alone and frightened. This feeling of fear and loneliness reached deep inside her. She shivered and a small cry escaped her tightly closed lips. Unable to hold the tears that piled up behind her eyelashes, she started to sob, her whole body shaking.” The Lost I .