Al Waddi Ad-Dam

            “…and in world new, fighting erupted today between the Israeli forces occupying southern
Lebanon and the Arab residents.  ABC news correspondent Dan Martin is live in Tyre with an update.”
           

“The streets have quieted down after a violence-filled afternoon.  The Israeli occupation has now entered its second week and today, for the first time, the insurgents in Tyre supported by mortar fire, have fought back right here in the streets of Tyre.  At about two o’clock in the afternoon, local time, snipers backed up by mortars began firing at the Israeli soldiers in this square.  Hard-pressed and suffering casualties, the Israelis called in tank support.  In the ensuing battle, many of the surrounding buildings were destroyed resulting in scores dead and still more wounded.”           

“Dan is there any word as to the exact number of casualties?”           

“No, but because the attack occurred at a time when most of these buildings were full, Lebanese officials fear the worst.  These buildings contained shops and small businesses which were operating at the time of the attack.  Fifteen Israeli soldiers were also killed in the fighting.”           

“What can we expect from Tyre in the days to come, Dan?”           

“Lebanese officials are preparing to deal with a flood of refugees leaving Tyre now that the fragile calm here has been broken.  This is also a blow to the Israelis, who had hoped to root out the militant groups and maintain the peace.  The Israelis and militants have both publicly stated that they won’t back down.  The next few days will be very difficult ones for everyone in Tyre as one can expect the streets to become a killing ground.  This is Dan Martin reporting to you live from
Tyre, Lebanon.”
           

“Thanks Dan.  Middle East peace talks reached a new low today as …”[1] 

            It should have been me, Alwaddi thought as knelt down and held his wife’s hand.  Wari lay on the sidewalk where rescue workers had placed her during the search for survivors.  Only the dust which covered her told of the crushing weight of stone which broke her back and Alwaddi knew it was his fault.

            He hadn’t wanted his small export business to collapse, so when the Israelis came he stayed.  If had seemed like a good idea.  With Israeli troops maintaining the peace, business had actually improved somewhat.  So when Wari stopped by he thought nothing of asking her to mind things while he left for a moment.  He should have known that the occupation would turn violent.  He should have closed his office until the Israelis left but he didn’t.  So his life lay in ruins at his feet.

            He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see a man of average height and build whom he did not recognize.

            “Was she your wife?”

            “Yes,” Alwaddi replied, tears rolling down his cheek.

            “I am sorry, it is a great tragedy but Allah often calls the best among us to his side first.”

            “It is my fault.”

            “No friend, it is the Zionists who caused this.  They are the ones who brought the fight here.  It was their tanks which destroyed this building!”  The stranger replied angrily.

            “I should have been killed.  I should be dead not her.  I should be dead.”

            “But you are not and she is.  You have been spared for a reason.”

            “How could this happen?”  Alwaddi asked softly.

            “Avenge her.”

            “What?”

            “Avenger her!  Strike back at those who took your wife.  Fight them like a man, then take your place by her side in
Paradise.”

            “Who are you?”

            “My name is Alad-dam and I think you should come with me.”  Without waiting for an answer, the stranger took Alwaddi by the arm and lifted him to his feet.  “Come, the priests are already here.  They will see to it that your wife is treated respectfully,” he said more gently.  Alwaddi let himself be led away from the rubble.  Not really thinking, he just followed the Alad-dam through a number of side streets.  The image of his wife remained imprinted on his mind.  The peaceful look of sleep on her face, the dust, the unreal feel to everything.  Were it not for Alad-dam herding him onward he would still be there with her.  The two continued moving through a number of narrow streets.  Alwaddi was not familiar with this part of the city and quickly lost all sense of direction.  He stopped paying attention as one street melted into another. 

            Finally, the arrived at a small mosque.  Alad-dam told him that they would be going inside and that Alwaddi should prepare himself.  Alwaddi shook himself out of a daze then he removed his shoes and washed the dust from his hands, face and feet before following Alad-dam inside.  The mosque was little more than a covered walkway surrounding a courtyard.  Every detail spoke of the loving care that went into its maintenance.  The walls were lined with simple mosaics depicting scenes from the Koran, and the intricate tile columns shone in the late afternoon sun.  Alwaddi stepped out into the courtyard and the sun.  he thought of Wari, who was by far the more religious, and how she would love this place for all of its simplicity.  Her greatest pleasure was visiting spots like this, the old places within the city.  She had called herself a student of history though she had never attended a university.  She would share her amazing discoveries and he would just enjoy the look of wonder on her face.

            He realized that Alad-dam had disappeared and that a priest was walking up to him. 

            “I understand you have suffered much today,” he said.  Alwaddi nodded his head.

            “You should not blame yourself, my son.  Her death was not your fault.”

            “I am such a fool,” Alwaddi answered.

            “For trusting the Zionists, perhaps, but what choice did you have?  You could have left the city as many others did, but that would mean leaving everything.  So like a good man you stayed and carried on your life, but you were betrayed.  We were all betrayed.  The infidels hate us and now they try to cast us out of our homes just as surely as they are casting us from the
Holy land.”

            Alwaddi didn’t answer so the priest asked, “Do you have a family?”

            “She was my family.”

            “I am sorry, but Allah works in mysterious ways,” the priest said.  “With one hand he takes away and with the other he gives.  He has given you a chance to strike back.”

            “I just want her back.  I want to wake up and see her by my side.  I want it to end.”

            “Don’t you understand why this happened!” the priest yelled.  “Don’t you realize that you have turned your back to Allah and that is why you have suffered?  We are his people but he cannot protect us if we do not acknowledge him!  Any man of God would know that he must strike back at his foes and that he will strike with the might of God!”  Alad-dam returned to the courtyard while the priest was speaking.

            “I have some friends who wish to help you,”  said Alad-dam.  “They can help you strike back at
Israel.  Please, follow me.”  He led Alwaddi across the courtyard to the other side of the mosque leaving the priest behind.

            “why did they come here, the Israelis?  Why did they do this?  Why cant they leave us alone?”  Alwaddi asked.

            “they came here to find freedom fighters like me.  They came to break the will of those who have the courage to fight them.  The Israelis will never allow peace unless it’s on their own terms.  They would have us on our knees if they could but we are the avengers of the blood and the blood of our brothers covers their hands,”  Alad-dam answered.

            They came to a door at the other side of the mosque which they passed through.  They entered a dark room lit only by a single bare light bulb.  A short man rose from what appeared to be prayer and moved towards them.  “I did not think you survived the battle Alad-dam.  Who is this?”

            “Apparently I did survie and this a friend;  someone in need of vengeance.”

            “The whole of Islam cries for vengeance after today.  What is your name?”  the short man asked.

            “Alwaddi,” he replied.  “I don’t understand what’s going on here.”  He felt like he had lost control over his destiny and he didn’t know what to think of it.  The death of his wife had left him empty and rudderless.  He followed Aled-dam because he didn’t know what else to do. 

            “There’s nothing to understand, Alwaddi.  We are trying to help you.  Now tell me, why do you need vengeance?”  the short man asked.

            “I, I don’t.”  He paused, unsure of what to say.  “My wife was killed in the fighting.  She was killed when the Israelis destroyed the building she was in and it fell on her.  She was killed because I wasn’t there.  It’s the Israelis fault, it’s my own fault.  I don’t know anymore.  I just hate them.  God, I hate them for taking her away from me,” he said, barely holding back tears.

            “I think we can help you,” the short man said.  “There is something you can do to save yourself.  A great sacrifice for your wife and then you will be with her.”

            “What are you asking me to do?”  Alwaddi asked.

            “We’re asking you to strike at the infidels the same way they have struck at us,”  Alad-dam replied.  “We’re asking you to take the fight to them.”

            “But I don’t know how to fight.”

            “You don’t need to know how to fight.  You only need to be willing to die for Allah,” Alad-dam said.

            “I don’t know Allah,” Alwaddi answered.

            “What about your woman,” Alad-dam asked.  “Would you die for her?”

            “What do you want me to do?”

            The short man pulled a vest strapped with explosives from the far wall and offered it to him.  “We want you to wear this, go to Tel Aviv and kill the Zionists where they live,” he said. 

            Alwaddi took the vest in his hands.  He didn’t like the way it felt but he didn’t know what else to do.  He had nothing else to do, nowhere to go, no one to turn to.  He had only his grief, his guilt and the desire to see his wife again, not as a corpse but as the living breathing woman that he loved so much.  So he told them he would do it, he would kill them just as they had killed his Wari.

            He spent the night in the room behind the mosque.  He slept fitfully, dreaming, hoping that this was all a nightmare.  He woke with the sun and turned to find that he was not in his bed with his wife as he had so fervently hoped.  He used to enjoy the early morning hours spent with Wari.  They would sit, drink coffee and just talk before he went to his office and she to her daily tasks.  She would lay his worries to rest with a few choice words.  He wondered what she would have had to say about this morning.  It made him sad to think it.

            Alad-dam walked into the room and asked how he was doing.  He then began explaining what was going to happen that day.  First he would leave the city and head towards the Syrian border in a truck.  The truck would then cross into
Jordan and Alwaddi would stay in
Southern Jordan for the night.  The next day he would be dropped off in Tel Aviv where he would find a bus stop.  He would board a bus and detonate the explosives in his vest.  During the journey he was to talk to no one, especially no Jews.

            The next day, Alwaddi arrived at the bus stop, walking awkwardly with his heavy vest.  The streets of Tel Aviv were larger and much more crowed than those of
Tyre but his instructions were simple:  talk to no one, get on the first bus you can get close to the center of the city and then press the button.  He could feel the button in his pocket, connected to the explosives wrapped in his vest.  A darkly beautiful women walked to the bus stop and waited.

            “Are you a Palestinian?” she asked.

            “No, I’m Lebanese,” Alwaddi answered.  She looked very much like his Wari except that she was somewhat taller and wore her hair shorter.

            “Sorry, I didn’t think I’d find any Lebanese here with all that’s going on in
Tyre.”

            “It’s OK.”

            “Are you here on business?”  she asked as the bus pulled up to the stop.

            “I’m going to see my wife,” he answered.

            “She must be a lucky woman,” she said smiling.

            As he moved to board the bus he realized why Alad-dam had told him not to talk to anyone.  He paused at the door and looked into the bus.  The bus was filed with people, all going about their business just as he would have before his wife died, before his life ended.  He envied them but he could not hate them.

            “Are you getting on or not?”  the bus driver asked.

            “No,” he said, his voice quivering.  “No, I’m going to see my wife.”

            The door closed as the bus pulled away from the sidewalk.  Alwaddi waited for a lull in the traffic and stepped out into the empty intersection.

            “I’m going to see my wife,” he whispered.  A single tear rolled down his cheek.

            “…In the Middle East today, fighting continues in
Tyre as Israeli forces battled in the streets with Islamic paramilitaries.  Israeli leaders insist that the presence of these troops is essential if peace is to be established.  Officials also refuted the claims that Israeli tanks were responsible for the destruction of buildings two days ago which caused over one hundred civilian casualties.

            In Tel Aviv, an unidentified Lebanese man exploded in the middle of an empty intersection.  Israeli police speculate that this may have been a suicide bombing gone wrong and they plan on investigating further.  No one else was hurt in the blast…


[1] Italics = English (newscast)

Responses

  1. Your work is marvelous!!


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