A Commissioner Writing His Diary
The piece is fictitious and was written by a 18-year old Sarah Ali.
Well, it is not the right time to discuss whether going there is the right thing to do or not; it is too late. The order had been made, and I was officially assigned to be the commissioner. When I was asked why they had chosen me, my commander said, “You have always had the ability of giving the sweet talk. You can do something good for your people, and you can get us a fair compromise.” I was supposed to feel flattered by his words. It felt horrible, however.
I have never been through what my people are constantly suffering, not as far as I can remember. And now I am supposed to defend their rights— my people’s rights, but how can I? Never have I believed in such a farce-negotiations, not in this exact situation of ours. Never have I thought I would be part of it, not to mention one of the main parts. The thoughts kept assailing my mind all through the way to the headquarter where the negotiations were supposed to be held.
After three hours driving, we were finally there. I took a look through the jeep’s window. It was 11:00 AM. Everything was glittering, though. As I stepped out of the car, I felt like a kid entering a fancy palace for the first time. Well, that’s what I thought, only the Israeli Association was not a palace, not to me. The traditional photographed procedures went normally: I walked on that red lavish carpet as two Israeli bodyguards surrounded me along with my own two. I shook hands with some men, and I drew that fabricated smile you all know.
It was time for the negotiations to start. And here begins the story. I got into a room— a big one, actually. Noting got my attention except for a table placed in the center of the room. On the table, there were some water bottles that I didn’t really think would be of any help, for it was too hot that day in addition to some napkins, and the two flags: our flag and theirs. There were some medals— probably for vicious crimes they should not be proud of committing. They were hanged on the wall.
The participants started to talk, and the Israeli negotiators started to circumvent. That was not surprising, but for some reason, I got agitated. I was trying to stay focused when the picture of my brother, holding his rifle, started to flash before my eyes. He was murdered in the last offensive on Gaza Strip. I thought I never suffered, how could I be this naive? I am a Palestinian, and suffering is something I am known for. How could I ignore the image of my brother’s dead body thrown on the threshold of our house?! How could I forget my mother’s weeping over him?! I was to blame, and nothing could have got me out of the guilt I was feeling at that moment.
It was my turn to speak, they thought I was listening attentively, and they were just waiting to seal the deal. To me, the ‘solutions’ they offered were not interesting. In fact, they were humiliating, so it was time for me to leave. “So you want to go home?” said one of their negotiators. Ironically, and for a moment, I thought it was a pun; ‘Home!’ I thought how happy I would be if he meant the real home they had stolen sixty-two years ago! I have never questioned the guts I have. Smiling and leaving the room, I said, “Gentlemen, here I am done”.
Along my way home, I was overwhelmed with pride, joy, and dignity. At that exact moment, I felt I was a Palestinian— a martyr’s brother as well.
June 8th, 2010
Sarah Ali is a fresh student of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.