My name is Ishmael and I have three children; Mohammed Ibrahim, Isa and Musa. My first wife's name is Khadijah and my second wife's name is Maryam. I live in the infamous place all know of as the Gaza strip. I grew up here and stand, of course, for free Palestine, but am not part of the Hamas. My desire to grow wings in a land where we are not allowed to was not by choosing to leave, leaving wife and children behind after learning English (the choice that has made me a jobless Professor in my own land) or by falling in love with some Ruth or Marilyn or Ebtesam from the countries of the invader or U.S.A. or the Middle East and the G.C.C. countries. I am not a violent man. I am not even a writer or a very good story-teller.
We always lived under siege, but we kept living and surviving from as far back as my memories stretch. The ones with weapons asked me to join them, but I did not. The reason is simple, with great difficulty I had read the holy books of five religions and come to prefer peace to violence and forgiveness to vengeance and hatred. That is why my story is such a strange one.
When my children became 12, 11 and 10 the attacks again intensified. Again the Hamas came and asked us to join but again I said no. They were as much a headache as the damn Israelites as they would fire on them from populated areas and go hide in deserted ones and the swift retaliation or strike back would leave us dead or maim us, so they could make horror look more horrifying. As if it was not clear already to the world what we were going through. The world knew and did nothing, would do nothing, for after all it was not their children or women getting massacred or hurt. Only the hungry know the taste of food.
Finally the thing I had dreaded most happened to us. There was another sudden announcement that we should evacuate - where to? - but added to it was the worst of threats, if not, we would not only face the missiles but there would be an armed intrusion. We had no place to go to. I had no job or salary as the University where I was teaching at had been bombarded and was under reconstruction. We survived on neighbours' charity. We were attacked the way cowards always do, at night. We knew what would happen if we were taken, the women would be raped, the men killed or imprisoned for being what they were not usually, and the children killed or sometimes left wounded and maimed or, if fortunate, untouched. I waited as they came firing. There wasn't much to be done actually, We had no weapons. Stones make men and children into modern Daouds who cannot kill Goliaths, as Sami Yusuf sang, created by modern technology, it worked only once upon a time, like other fairy tales and myths.
I saw bullets whiz too close by for my comfort. In the deathly hush and still of the night, their deadly hiss was more than I wanted to take. Living on the edge for a long time makes people different. I stole out in the night and went closer and closer to the ones coming closer, hell bent on destroying us for a reason neither they nor we knew of or understood anymore. All we both knew was it was bigger than us, too, too, too big, and would destroy us and we were helpless against it, and it had made them killers and us the killed, at present. My sons being named Ibrahim or Musa was not going to change any of it for them or me, help them or us snap out of this nightmare. Another one being called Isa would not stop weapons dealers from selling weapons to the Israelite army or to us or stop the USA from supporting them.So we went on with the madness.
Like Kino in The Pearl, I attacked my nameless, faceless trackers and when I stumbled on one, wrestled the gun away from him and then turned it on him and killed him. I did not want him to kill my children or those of the neighbours who had shared their bread with me, kill us knowingly or unknowingly. I was fully cognizant of the fact that he too would probably be having children and a wife. Right now, it was better that they suffered than mine did. There would be time for another way later, maybe, but I did not want to think of that. We drove them off. My children are all alive and unhurt, unlike Coyotito in the story.
I have killed a man for the first time.You can call me anything you want, ignorant, madman, martyr, terrorist, freedom fighter or murderer - I am still the same Ishmael, have not joined the Hamas, have no job, scrounge for a living for me and my children, and dream of peace and know that hatred begets hatred and vengeance begets vengeance. I cannot explain to people that I have run out of choices, and am still in God's will. I live for the sake of my wife and children, and believe me if need be I will kill again for them, as this is not a game of words but goes beyond that, this is a war. It is about reality, and theory does not help there. Generalizations and spiritual platitudes do not help there. I do not fight or kill, if I do, for just my children but all such defenceless children everywhere, whoever is killing them, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist; and this is the only thing I want to say, to end with.