Narrow is the prison hole. Stubborn is the prison wall. I was contemplating the absurd. I imagined fleeting summer clouds and a sunshine descending a slope softly and touching the ground. I twinkled. The image grew distinct. A small hole bigger than my palm or a bit less! Barbed wires suffocated the light of the sun, and they turned the sky into a chess board.
Sickness made vision dizzy and bleak. Everything becomes dark in prison. Anything else would look prosperous outside prison, no matter how bad it is. I had a lack of eyesight. My heart was telling me, and I imagined scenes I had always been keen to see – the grapes, the cherry blossoms, and the stolen coast. We used to look at the stolen, remote coast, and monitor it from the Hebrew Heights, when we were children. It was glittering. Then we would disseminate our wishes. Sometimes we were shouting out loud at the sky, saying “we will return”.
My health has deteriorated since I was locked up behind bars nine years ago. I got closer to my God and Creator. I used to pray Him at night while shedding tears on my cheeks. If I had not done so, I would have lost my mind. Pain invaded my eyes the moment I was first interrogated. Soreness expectorated poison on the edges of my eyes. And I was almost blinded. Jailors made the worse worst. They cared not for my calamity.
I once woke up in a very summer-like early morning. My tummy was aching. It was killing. I assumed it was cold or rotten food. I tried hard to get up off my bed. I could not. My belly button was bleeding. It was leaking, actually. Blood stained my shirt. Pain was so acute that I believed I was dying. I writhed in agony. My fellow prisoners could do nothing but watch. One of them screamed for help, and another knocked on the door. Jailors ignored my squeals for hours. Then they took me to a nearby clinic and gave me painkillers only!
Pain subsided a bit but never gone. Pain was a jailor of different kind. It was lurking. And waiting. Then it was attacking. It came back again but this time with more soreness. I could not bear it. I screamed by the door, ” Save me. I am dying”. Hours later, one of the jailors responded to my wails. He negotiated with my fellow prisoners. Time passed along. Then he agreed on transferring me to Beersheba Hospital. I was diagnosed as having a tumor near my belly button. I was informed that I had to undergo an urgent surgery.
“Urgent” means extortion and procrastination when it comes to the Israeli occupation. Jailors were giving desolate smiles at my face. I suffered acute pain for some weeks. I was like a slaughtered pig, and the Israeli authorities shrugged me off. I was steps away from death. Then a date was fixed to operate on me. I feared the consequences. They tied me up, and drove me to the so-called hospital. I waited three hours to undergo the surgery. Every cell of my body was groaning. I tried to hang in, and I convinced myself that pain will be gone in the wake of the surgery.
Jailors, however, sent me back to my cell in prison without operating on me. They did not care about me, as if I am an inanimate object, immobile and devoid of emotions. Days later, they fixed another date for my operation. Hope resurrected my spirit again. They fastened me tightly and surrounded my limbs. I did give them a damn this time. “Pain is over soon, my tummy!” I smiled. This bitter journey is ending soon. My mind was manacled to the days after the surgery. They must be days of comfort.
The surgery was postponed! I lost my temper. I was forced back to my cell, shackled and broken. Pain looked endless. It haunted me. Few days later, another day for a surgery was fixed. They promised “it won’t be postponed this time.” I felt happy, even though they are not trustworthy. Pain had turned into a rapacious monster I had to defeat. They chained me for the third time. At dawn, I arrived in the same hospital. I waited. I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Nine hours of waiting looked similar to nine years of prison. They were filled with repression, oppression, growing pain and bitter patience.
I was pushed into the surgery room. Everything inside looked strange. It was not an operation room, actually. The doctor said, “There is another patient waiting for me now. Take him back to his prison!” I swore I will not come back to their dead hospital, even if I was dying. I kept bleeding. I was dying. I plead to God. Alone.
Firas Abu Shekhaidem, Palestine