Thursday, November 09, 2006

Meeting Ahmad on the Burnt Side of the Border!

I arrived to meet Ahmad after a high emotionally-charged trip through the destroyed villages along the Israel-Lebanese border. We stood there silently sobbing watching the forbidden land that we consider Palestine as we puffed our cigarettes along with our frustration and helplessness. On one side of the border total destruction, burnt land and graffiti of resistance; and on the other side, green fields and tidily arranged houses protected by Israeli military. All look serene rendering the scene more brutal and surreal. Borders never looked more ridiculous and painful, a winding barbed wire with fences and military roads marking the separation, cutting through a land that looks very much alike. A land that is one, a natural continuation divided by a war machine and ruthless bombing. We had to leave quickly; the feeling of helplessness and frustration in the face of such a ridiculous fence and such grave injustice was too intense to bear.

I met Ahmad in his village, Dayr Seryan, in the south of Lebanon while he was playing with his friends around plastic water tanks stacked in front of the village´s school. The tanks were waiting to be distributed part of relief programs and were the source of imagination for the kids game. They were playing war, using the water tanks as shelters, running around throwing little stones at each others then screaming “go to the shelter, go to the shelter” before they run laughing to hide between the lines of grey water tanks and stay still for a while before they storm out and start throwing pebbles again. Even as we sat to talk we were not spared few pebbles and laughs from the crowd inciting us to leave the interview and join the game. Ahmad is 12 years old and he spent 21 days in his village during the war before they left during the 24-hour ceasefire declared by Israel – a ceasefire Ahmad told me was restricted to aerial bombing while the Israeli cannons thundered in the distance. He caught my attention from the first minute, the way he spoke calmly with a smile and much confidence, and the way he stared at the ground and took time to think before he answered. His friends were all around us, teasing him to which he responded with a wide smile and closed eyes as he turned his head down. Ahmad´s father works in Qatar while he lives with his mother and two siblings, an older brother and a 5-year-old sister – in the village.

Read the interview...