Sunday, November 3, 2013

Inter/Sect: The making of a "terrorist" by Tarek Chemaly (Part 4)

Based on Tawfiq Yusuf Awwad's seminal novel "Tawahin Beyrouth" (or "Death in Beirut" as it has been translated), we will follow the story of Tamima Nassour a Muslim Shiite girl from the south of Lebanon as she goes to Beirut - a Beirut already in turmoil (the novel was published in 1973 and saw the war coming).
Tamima ends up joining the Palestinian Fidais (or Kamikaze). In a world today where "terrorist" is slapped on anyone and everyone these series of 12 monologues aim at recounting Tamima's story backwards, as if from a police investigation with protagonists who knew the victim. And with these 12 facets, we shall know or try to understand why is that someone so young and beautiful would end up taking such a desperate measure.
Called “Inter/Sect” these monologues collectively refer to Tamima’s relationship with a man from a different sect, but also talk about the intersection of the destinies of all these people orbiting around that central elusive character after the fact.


“20th of October: Do I love H…? And why am I scared to say his name? I have called him by his name at the beach. And the sea and the earth and the sky have all heard me.”
“29th November: Today for the first time I felt the coldness of death. I saw love lying on a bed with no soul. Love is ugly once it is dead, like all corpses, and it has a smell.”
“14th of December: I want my place in life before my place in society. Hani disagrees. We agreed to disagree again today. “There’s no life outside of society” he says.”
“28th of December: I wanted to vomit life, and now they force me to vomit the death I have drunk. Why did Mary come back early from her shift? Couldn’t she take a while longer to show up? Why did the edge lose in front of the mother’s arms? Why?”
“2nd of February 1969: Lying! Lying! Lying! You repeated it three times, Hani, during your debate with the friends. “Lying is our vice” you said. And I am condemned to live in lying. Honesty? Then translate me. Otherwise how would I live in the cage of virginity. To close upon myself in a box of longing and deprivation and stupidity waiting for the big day – who knows where luck will happen? – to carry it to you and tell you: Please open it with your knowledge and your previous trials with the tens of them, from Linda in Deir el Mtoll to Lamia Sharon…”
“Beirut on the…: That last note in this book it is to you that I write Hani, from some place, here only a stone’s throw from your attic. The man was waiting for me, he wants us to go from the port immediately and then Abou Aziz Yafawi will follow us after burying his son.
But I couldn’t skip the funeral of Abou el Hol, the Sphinx. I had promised myself this much in our meeting yesterday when the fellows were debating the matter of participating in it.
But am I back from the funeral of Abou el Hol or my own?
Your slap will leave a scar that shall never go away. The slaps I got from my mother and my brother were inflaming my blood. But I feel your slap on my cheek like morning dew, and in my heart it will resonate like the bells of Deir el Mtoll until my dying hour.
Is this the curse that you have thrown on me that preceded all the others who are cursing me now from all sides? God forbids! I am sure you had no thought about any of it until that second where you raged your silent rage. We you raging against me or against the owner of that name? I hope it was against me, so give me your hand to kiss. Because, had you wished, you could have instead said to me in my face what Houssein Kammoui and what the son of my father and my mother think of me. To lapidate me. To slaughter me. Or to shoot me with bullets the way he tried to this morning. I wish he hadn’t missed!
You could have, at least, thrown me out. Turn your back on me. But I saw you remain silent, standing up facing the stars, and I saw your shadow on the roof covering me and engulfing me.
What if you had called me? What if you asked me to come back? It is a good think you have done to leave me. I would like to think that you have left yourself to your own self. But I for one want to confess to you. I was about to come back. To kneel at your feet and wash them with tears. And a good thing I did by continuing my path.
The path of my destiny.
I am going till its very end. Once more, I could have gone back and you could have brought me back – Did you ask about me today? Have you been next to the apartment? Have you called? I am sure you shall ask about me if not today then tomorrow - but what is the use? It is my destiny, and there is no way to push it back. And now it has blocked us both, for neither I can go back to you after the death of Mary Bou Khalil for my sake, nor shall you accept coming back to me.
I shall not attend the funeral of Miss Mary, just like I couldn’t attend the funeral of Zannoub before it. May I delegate my attendance to you, Hani, and to ask her to forgive me in her heaven.
Where am I going? With the night until its dawn breaks.
Maybe you have known before me. All I can say now is that I am heading with the man to where they shall give me my destination and my mission. And so is Abou Sharshour. He is now beside me waiting for me to finish those words to you. Abou Aziz Yafawi is heading to war. This is what he says and this is all what he knows. As for me…
Do you remember we spoke yesterday during the meeting about the acts of violence which are against the written and enforced laws and the unwritten rules which are yet fully established.
I belong there.
I shall fight under every sky against all the unwritten rules and the traditions which society has agreed to, and stab them with my hand. Because in their name – under the sky of my own country  - he denied me the right to live, and when he wanted to take life in its name he committed instead of one crime – two: He killed my best friend and the most noble and pure of them and he slaughtered my love.
You see, Hani, we are still agreeing to disagree. We disagreed yesterday as well. You said it from the beginning: We shall disagree on many issues.
And this is my path now which diverges from your own in the end.
But, is it really the end?
I cannot imagine that. I cannot. I cannot.
Give me your hand – that same one – on my cheek. The man is hurrying me. And Abou Sharshour will deliver it to you and then will meet us back after dropping this by your attic. It contains all my life, and it is yours, and I don’t need it, for I shall not speak after today. And from the moment I shall walk with the man the name of Tamima Nassour shall go silent.”

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