I saw the flicker, the glimmering haze shooting and then hitting the jeep broken, illuminating a strong beam that lit the hill opposite. It was a few minutes after the sunset, almost dark at that late summer day. I knew the whole story then and my heart was full of fear and excitement.
What to do? To run away and leave the goats? There was no time to think, and I herded the goats, almost pushing them to cross that dam road. No time, I had to go home to get the goats feed their awaiting babies and then milk them.
That was a damn day for me that I will never forget, and will keep getting the fresh picture of all what had happened as if I am looking at it now and still living it. “Nothing happened to the goats. We got them home later that night, the problem was what happened to you.” My brother told me later on when I got out of jail.
I had no time to think, I didn’t even think but in one thing; to take the goats home safely. While I was pushing the goats to cross the road horridly they came running heading right at me. I ran away among the goats that were scattered in all direction, I jumped off the road, to the opposite hill, to the same direction from which the flickering koctail molotove glasses hit them. The jeep was flaming and shades of giant soldier ghosts were trying to set it off. Two Zionists soldiers chased me, I shrieked of horror when they came close and fell on the ground: “It is not me! I did nothing!” but before I complete the two of them attacked me beating everywhere. One of them pulled my by the hand, the other hit my leg with the rifle and then, as if I hear something broke, I fell on the ground not able to move. I was dragged to the jeep and each one of the furious shouting soldiers hit me. It was a complete “party”.
The fire was set off and the jeep wasn’t really hurt. I was thrown into the back floor of the jeep and stepped on, kicked and beaten by the soldiers on both sides. I couldn’t cry, I was moaning feebly feeling the pain of my fractured leg.
The goats! What happened with them? Everybody has his own world and I was filled with mine, the goats, as if nothing in the whole world is more important than taking the goats back to their babies at the end of the day.
Soon, I was blinded even before we arrived the jail, and I was dragged and beaten again as we arrived. I was lucky that the blinders almost fell and I remember, it was a wide square full of jeeps and tanks, I was dragged between them dirty and bleeding all over, and when they arrived to the “offices” happily one of the soldiers hailed: “Hey! We got the little terrorist!”
Sometimes it is even beyond crazy to think: ‘what the hell I am doing here, what the hell these ghosts are, where am I, what will happen, the goats, soldiers, tanks’ and all of that I didn’t even got to know the interrogation yet. Smiling officers talking happily to the soldiers and signing papers as if nothing happened to me, as if I wasn’t bleeding … as if the goats didn’t go home to their babies yet. Why in hell all of that? I was too little to think properly, it was a brutal world that I just got to know for the first time at the age of 14; the bloody world of the occupation machine! And why in heavens sake? Just because it happened I was there? No, no I realize it wasn’t that simple; I was occupied and tortured since I was born, but I felt it only then. Am I not a refugee in the first place?
I was thrown into a tight cell, I couldn’t stretch my legs fully and I was given a tattered bed and a half blanket. Did I sleep? Could I sleep? Why? How? I couldn’t believe what I was in, I thought it was just a nightmare and that I was still among the goats playing the flute. Oh, God! Can you believe, I started to pinch my fractured leg, to rub my thighs and to hit my head, and even to pull my ear to keep realizing that it was reality, and it was a reality that I had to face ever since.
I stared at the harsh wall of the cell and felt it with my trembling fingers to restore my lost reality; YES! I am already in jail, the goats and childhood are gone forever. From now on, I am no longer that child, I turned overnight into a man, an old tattered man.
I don’t know why they didn’t take me to interrogation that night, were they busy with others? Or was the interrogator sleeping with his wife and children?
At late night I felt the horror and shrank to the corner of the cell covering myself with the blanket; loud screaming, shrieking, clubbing and shouting. ‘What’s that?’ I though, beating another boy? Was he there? Is it my turn now?
It was stifling hot at that oven of a cell but I was trembling, shivering, feeling the pain in my leg as I pulled it shrinking in the corner. I don’t know if I slept but soon I woke up my head bent over my pulled knees, it was still dark, very dark.
You can imagine how it is sweet to watch the morning rising, I did. First it was an utter silence that is broken every now and then by the clinging of iron gates, or a jeep arriving or departing. Then the birds, Oh, the birds singing. The birds seemed noisily quarreling that morning, I was piled in the cell. Then a voice of somebody saying “good morning”. I didn’t know who was that, the garbage collector, the prison chef, or the interrogator. Oh my gash! They are coming to get me! And I started trembling again.
“Don’t show your pain or fear to others.” I remembered what my mom used to tell me, “Be a man and don’t cry or fear anybody.” I felt the courage as if my mom was there with my right then, and bit on my teeth to feel the inner strength, to hide the pain in my fractured leg, when the door cracked open, and I was shaking inside: “Get up!” an angry jailor ordered. “Where to?” I asked. “Shut up!”
The horror, I know, the horror!
Biting on my teeth I got up laming and I was handcuffed, blinded and dragged silently to the “offices”, the hell! They call them the “offices”. A well-equipped block for interrogation. Whatever they need is there; clubs, ropes, cold water, hot water, chairs, hooks, metal chains, electric heaters. (the hell ! they “heated” the leg of one of the children till it was almost burned) whips, handcuffs, blinders (blinders? Jesus! You don’t know what blinders mean! They were big bags that are put on your head to go down over your shoulders and then are tied on your neck) hooks stuck on the walls, hooks dangling from the sealing! The “offices”? We called it the butchery with the feeling of horror every time we uttered it; the butchery.