(Don’t be so afraid to die)
Until it’s our time
(Don’t be so afraid to die)
It’s our time, ’til it’s our time
(Cause we’ll never die)
How come in hell? Can death be beautiful? A bullet in the head, and then the head rotates back and forth like in a Tarns or Sufi dance, the shuddering shoulders waving in harmony with the trembling feeble knees that sag slowly while the waist revolves in a Palestinian Dabka, and finally, the dancing body collapse that deadly fall in a heap like a loose bag of potatoes !
Death ! You know what does it mean to die beautifully? It means to stick to your right to live till the last second of your life…. To fight with your blood to live a dignified life but not a slave beggar as they plan to you. Death can either be boatful or shameful … a thief was shot dead, an adulterer was shot naked dead when the husband came unexpectedly home ! Beautiful? Shameful?
I was hallucinating, I was sitting with my little son of three years a few yards away from home, when the nightmare suddenly struck my head. I recall back: why to be afraid of death when it comes beautiful, or dignified at least; to die standing! My son was sitting beside me and was talking to me, asking childish question, but I wasn’t there; I was distracted by the beautiful death, staring at the an ancient olive tree that we call it “the sacred tree” because nobody ever recalls who planted it, probably it was Adam himself who did.
“Adam! Go to your mom and leave me alone!” I mumbled to my son while still staring at that damn “sacred” tree. Why doesn’t it die? Leaves are departing her one by one but still she’s standing still. Yes, her trunk is old with wrinkled skin, but still it has a green and beautiful head !!
In the land of martyrs you can’t but see death at least once in your life, not the humble ugly death in a hospital bed, but a dignified one that shudders beautifully. I saw death !
I saw death all the time; shuddering with a bullet a few yards away from me, shelled babies, gapping skulls, evacuated guts….. but I lived its nightmare only once because it meant my own death. That was in late summer 1994, when I came back to university after long years in jail; I came back the same hellish spirit to die, no matter how but to die. For what? The least to mention freedom.
I don’t remember why we went out in the demonstration; what was the direct or the implied reason-there are thousands everyday- but it was a continuous struggle to get free. Can you get free from your own fear? This question is recent for me but at that time I didn’t and couldn’t think twice.
We went to demonstrate and soon we were faced by a Zionist checkpoint. It was erected a mile away, and we rushed armed with stones, some even started throwing stones that didn’t reach half the distance. Armed with the fury to get free I rushed like a Spanish bull to the already situates Zionist soldiers shielded and mostly hidden behind the jeeps. I started throwing the stones when it was time to; I realized and intended to be the first to hit. The soldiers were situated on the top of a hell and the road was ascending in an archaic path that the soldiers could only see the few heading ones. Most of the lagging demonstrators -and we were all university students- were still hidden down.
I was running and rising up with every stride ahead, when I saw the soldier sitting on one knee beside the jeep and sniping at me. I didn’t think twice and arched to throw my stone, then it was the bullet. I saw his calm face, the bullet came hissing and burning red. I saw it coming to hit my eyes and it hit my hair and burnt the branches, and only then I saw death. Something broke in my eyes, in my heart, in my arms; I felt I was collapsing, it was the horror of death, my own death, and then I jumped off the sandy road down the hill away from both the soldiers and the demonstrator. I rolled down the hill putting my hand on my head but there was no blood, just a little burnt hair as if someone cut my hair with a sharp blade. And I sat down there alone with the horror of death in my eyes, in my heart.
A few minutes later, I had to maneuver up the hill, but I felt week and scared to death !
“Adam! Look at this ancient tree.” It was Adam who planted it.
“Me? No, I didn’t plant it.” And I hugged him tightly.
Look at that beautiful branch Adam, it is blossoming though it is Autumn now.
And only then I saw the yellowish dry leave was falling, it was waving with the breeze and dancing to fall down on the ground. It was a beautiful dance of a fallen leaf. I looked back; the beautiful branch and saw it was jammed with green young leaves.
Sami, the Bedouin.