Mostly Cool

Mostly Cool The days pass by, slightly too harsh. Still that does not prevent anyone from keeping on. I myself follow the affairs of the world in cold blood, as cold as the winter, in which I start my days, just as in any other season, by consuming as much news as possible. I browse through the internet, check the websites of various newspapers, mainly read the headlines as they usually summarize the whole article, so there is no real urge to read it fully. In any case I will soon forget the number of the dead that announced in the headline. Whether it was 23 or 17 I’m no longer certain. I’m also not certain if there were actually 32 or 71 people killed, since my computer is customized to read Arabic files, and it may have changed the order of numbers, as it read them from right to left instead of left to right. I can never know, and I don’t think I really care, for very soon I will forget all about these numbers, exactly as I used to forget in the past what came in my horoscope a few minutes after reading it in the newspaper. For each day had its own astrological speculations, and nowadays each day has its own reports on bombings here and clashes there. Frankly, even if I wanted to remember, I wouldn’t be able to do so, now that my blood has turned cold.

My cold bloodedness is very important in maintaining my resolve to keep going on with life. And determinedly. In this way, had the whole world collapsed around me, I won’t. I will continue my day as usual, and with conviction. And successfully, from the beginning of the day till its end. And should failure suddenly cross my way, I would remind myself that I’m cold and I should not mind failures just as I did not mind success. Rather my real success resides in me leading my life neither towards happiness nor despair, but neutrality.

However I have to confess that I do fail sometimes; lately, twice, like today for instance. I almost died when I woke up, and upon looking through the window I did not see the fox curled up in his tail, sleeping between the dry branches of the bushes behind the garden. I cried feverishly, before regaining my coldness.

For days, I’ve been watching this fox sleeping between the bushes, keeping me company while seated firmly at my desk, working all day. And when darkness begins to fall, it wakes up and leaves. It is my only true dear friend that fox.
One night I actually woke up thinking about the fox, wondering whether I had fallen in love with that fox, and if it was normal for a woman to fall in love with a fox as she would fall for a human being. The idea frightened me for sometime, not falling in love with an animal, but the sheer idea of falling in love, as that could ruin the fortress of coldness I built around myself with much self exertion. Then suddenly I discover this morning, that I had fallen in the trap of that mischievous fox. Here I am crying about its ruthless absence.

A few days ago, I fell into another trap, which was the source of no less agony.
I was reading through the newspapers as usual, and as usual I only read the headlines and how many people were killed, which often comes in tens. Suddenly I saw a headline in which one person had been killed. My computer’s Arabic system would not have confused reading the number in the headline, for ‘1’ is ‘1’ whether you read from right to left or left to right. I felt my hand pushing the mouse towards the headline and clicking it, so the whole article appeared, and there I fell into the trap. As I assumed falling in love with a fox would be more merciful than falling in love with a human being, I assumed that knowing the details of the death of one person would be more merciful that knowing the details of the deaths of tens of people. In that article, from the Israeli newspaper Haartez, I read the following:
“An Israel Defense Forces patrol shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian who tried to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip yesterday. Two other teens were arrested and then returned to Palestinian territory.
“The incident occurred early yesterday morning when the three were seen crawling toward the fence near the Kisufim crossing.
“Army sources say one of the youths did not stop when ordered to do so. Troops opened fire, killing the teen.
“Another teen suffered light injuries and was treated at Soroka hospital in Be’er Sheva.
“Following questioning, the two youths were released in the Gaza Strip. The two said they were trying to cross into Israel to find work.
“The rules of engagement along the fence allow for firing at anyone seen crawling there at night.”

I repeat the story to myself. Fifteen years old, that is less than half my age. He leaves his house at dawn along with two other friends to find work outside Gaza, for there is no work in Gaza; only bullets. He probably planned to give his wage to his mother and she will manage how to spend it, for he is only fifteen years old. His father is unemployed for many years now. He meets with other two friends and together they wonder what to do. Maybe look for work outside Gaza, for there is no work in Gaza, only bullets. And the three decide. In the cold dawn they will leave. Only a Wall to cross and they will be out of Gaza. Fifteen years old or less.

And it is said that teenagers are lazy, but one should never generalize. There they are, three teens leaving their night sleepless, emerging from underneath their warm covers to the cold dawn. Cautiously approaching the Wall, while the dark pretends to cover them. It’s cold. But behind the Wall they will find work, for there is no work in Gaza, only missiles and heavy shooting.

I don’t even know their names. I browse through the Palestinian newspapers’ websites to learn their names at least, which I assumed the Israeli newspaper had dropped. But there I even don’t find anything about them. The news on the killing of that teen did not even get the chance to be reported in the Palestinian newspaper alongside the news about the death of tens of people.
I go back to that partial article, which still sufficed to rip me of the immunity of my right of existence.


(Summer, 2007)
Adania Shibli


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