Fishing in Beirut

January 30, 2010

Part 2: Aria (scene 6)

Filed under: Character : Djinn, Part 2 : Aria — fishinginbeirut @ 09:27

If your wishes are not granted, there’s a chance you’ll have to kill. Nobody wants to, but wrongs took place in history. Unholy acts were sanctioned. The French marched into his country, long before he was born, and they claimed it for themselves. They scorned as mindless his religion. He heard the stories growing up – the barbarism, the flame, the callous Western putdown of all it doesn’t know.
More than one million lost in the War of Independence. Nearly two million more made instant refugees. Over one hundred years of French Imperial rule, and when they finally left, the country shook with pain. It was into this that he was born. The Western leaning authoritarian governments. The failure to uphold true Sharia law. The final humiliation came in nineteen ninety, when the holy Islamic party won legislative elections, and had their victory nullified. He was 14, and this was not too young to act. It was soon after they started calling him Djinn. Civil war began, chaos could bring change, and no one else made bombs for cars like the genie from the slums.
Their group was strong and certain, and members acted as they saw fit. They insisted on an Islamic state. They cut the throats of villagers, blew up foreign journalists, and left to suffer women who would not become temporary wives. They killed the blood kin of colons. Djinn wanted more. In the heat and dust of some deep Saharan bolt hole, he knew it couldn’t end with simple government displacement. It was the French who had to pay. Hiding from his own military, a wanted man in a desecrated land, he began to search in earnest ways to flee and plot.
Passage to Lebanon came unexpectedly. A dark and terrible Mediterranean crossing, and a mad man in the galley screaming “Tell me where is Egypt!” He made it safely, and left that sorry ship behind. He is sitting in a sun-filled apartment, a space he shares with no one, in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. He has one knife, one fork, and two glasses. Three guns. Djinn spends hours by the window, thinking, watching, smoking cigarettes. It is calming. In the middle distance is the bay, blue and dream-filled. He cannot see the Lebanon Mountains that rise to the east, behind him now, unless he goes up to the roof. He saves this for the evenings. For the eerie final sunsets on the jumbled tension city. On the Christian hills of Ashrafiyah, and Muslim Musaytibah. For the simple aching beauty of the white buildings in light. He has four shirts, two pairs of trousers. He has a watch with Western writing – mode, display, water resist.
He has been here two years. This apartment, this routine. Prayers in the morning and the evening. Traffic sounds are soothing, and silence speaks of peace. Allah expects duty to be done.
When the bomb goes off in Paris the world will finally listen. The plan is nearing completion. It has been gently coaxed from infancy, and is now a rumbling, almost real event. It has teeth, and claws, and the wisdom to carry itself through. When he speaks it aloud, he smells the smoke it will create. The building metal will soften, and the Western dogs will scream. He walks the streets for exercise, and gives the little children who live downstairs sweets and coloured pebbles.
Very often sunsets can make him want to cry. He doesn’t cry of course, but wants to. The arching light embalms the stonework. The sky is magical, is perfect, and is the glistening protection of the Middle Eastern kingdom. He stands on the roof in the evenings, looks to the eastern mountains, smokes and wants to cry. Children sounds from the street below. Cooking utensils clattered in kitchens, open windows and murmurs of radio. Turn to the blue bay. Boats, the harbour, the odd unlikely tourist. The scars of civil war, and subsequent Israeli and Syrian occupation.
After this he returns to the window. Night falls, and he watches waking street lamps, with sweet mint tea slipping on his tongue.


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