Burn Another One: Part Two
A story by Fathima Begum
(Read Part One: http://islamiquemagazine.com/burn-another-one-part-one/)
The warm smoke from the kitchen trailed in through the grilled window on the bare cement wall separating the living room from the kitchen, as Adeela lay on the worn out mattress, her head resting on her grandfathers’ lap. The long summer day was setting and as her mother prepared their evening meal, Adeela kept her grandfather company. She had enjoyed the heavy rainfall earlier, but now she felt her eyes closing as she struggled to listen to her grandfather reciting the Qur’an from memory, steadily and rhythmically.
Adeela thought about her school. Her grandfather knew more than anyone else, how much she missed it. She had been forbidden to go after several bombs had exploded nearby; one of them had been dropped in the courtyard outside the school. The school was overcrowded and understaffed, and her father had never liked the standard of education there, but Adeela still missed it. Defiantly she had gone to school for a week after a series of bombings, over three months ago. But her father had angrily forbidden her and had punished her by not even allowing her to go to the olive trees plantation to pick the olives. She had then decided to forget about school, after all, she could still have fun playing with the other kids at the plantation.
Her older brother, Abbas had voluntarily given up his education. He had been luckily admitted into Al Azhar University. People had said that it was only because of her great grandfather’s connections that he had been granted a place there, but it didn’t matter now because he had given up. He had spent his time there scheming with fellow students on how to make changes in a way that could overturn history. That was what he had told Adeela, though she hardly knew what that meant.
She heard her mother ask her brother where he was going, and lifted her head to see that Abbas was on his way out.
“Nearby” he had replied before quickly disappearing out of the front door.
Her grandfather sighed deeply. Adeela knew that her parents were deeply worried about Abbas. He was spending a lot of time with groups of boys who had recently come together to tackle the issue of the attacks on their livelihoods that were happening more and more. She had heard her father telling him that he should be helping the situation, not making it worse. Abbas never spoke up much, but Adeela knew not to mistake his silence for anything other than quiet determination.
They slept after eating the meal of bread and fried potatoes that they had been eating for days and slept satisfied.
The next day, as Adeela and her friends sought shade from the stifling heat of the afternoon, they heard shouting and wailing in the distance. They raced to get to where the noise was, joined by crowds of neighbours. They ran until they arrived at the Daraj Quarter, near the Great Mosque of Gaza. Adeela pushed her way through the crowd and froze when she saw three bloodied bodies lying on the floor. Confused, she struggled to understand what had happened, but all she could make out from the loud cries were that three boys had died in a fight. Bravely Adeela inched her way closer and was relieved to see that none of them were her Abbas, or anyone she knew. A grown man fell to his knees and screamed, frightening Adeela. He had recognised one of the boys as his nephew. Adeela knew that she should run back before she was seen there by her father, who would no doubt be there somewhere, but she wanted to see what was going to happen. Amidst the panic that was quickly rising, Adeela searched for Abbas, and only after the she had been trodden on after being pushed to the ground by the crowd, she decided that she should run home.
Tension greeted her at home, her father had gotten home before her but Abbas had not. Her mother sat in a corner, staring at a wall, willing her son to come home. Adeela knew that look and knew what to do. She fetched water for her parents, and only her father asked where she had been.
Hours later, Abbas walked in, uninjured. As her parents threw questions at him, Adeela noticed the desolate look in his eyes as he slumped onto the mattress and covered his face as though to shield himself from them.
He told them that a group of them, about twenty to thirty of the boys from the neighbouring communities had gone to the Karni crossing, the separation barrier nearest to where they lived. He said it was to hijack one of the trucks that were coming in, for supplies. But it hadn’t worked, and three of the boys had been shot dead. They had carried them back, and nine others had also been injured. They had gotten off lightly, Adeela’s father had yelled. They could have all easily been killed.
No amount of yelling would work, and what had happened would only intensify their need for revenge. Loss of life would not keep them quiet, Ababs had told them.
Adeela’s grandfather returned home late at night, and had also bought news with him. An official from the government, Hamas, had paid a visit to the mosque to warn them that such attacks would never be successful, and if they wanted to be part of change, they needed to work with Hamas.
“Something has to be done to stop all this, but what?” Adeela’s grandfather had asked. The question hung in the air, unanswered, circling around them as they ate in silence, grieved and anxious.