My father, The Hero407 views
This week Bekhsoos has the pleasure to feature an article from the blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus“. Amina, writer and owner of the blog is a Syrian educator and blogger living in Damascus.
We had a visit from the security services:
it was late at night, in the wee small hours. Everyone was fast asleep. I woke when I heard the clamor and immediately guessed what had happened.
Abu Ali, our doorman, had been awakened by someone ringing the gate, and stumbled there to look out; he thought everyone was inside, but it wouldn’t be the first time that some family member or other had stayed out far too late at a cafe … instead, he saw two young guys in their mid twenties, clad in black leather jackets, muscular and both smoking. He knew immediately who they were and rang the alarm to wake everyone up. He was surprised when they stated who they were here for … me …
Meanwhile, I had a pretty strong notion when I woke up exactly what had happened. So, I pulled on my clothes as fast as I could — the ones I have had laid out for such a moment; simple cotton underwear and t-shirt (no underwire or anything like that), jeans, loose fitting pullover … put on my glasses and stumbled downstairs to the courtyard.
My father was already out there; he hadn’t bothered to get dressed at all and was wearing just a nightshirt. He was already in animated discussion with them. When I appeared, one of them nodded, “That’s her”
“Yes … we need to discuss a few things with you.” Oily smile that doesn’t extend to the eyes.
He rattles off a long list of things I have posted in English and in Arabic.
“You might have missed a few.” I say, my nerves almost getting the worst of me, but, less than fully awake, I clamp down hard on the urge to flee. If I run, I know that they will shoot. I can see weapons, the bulge of pistols and likely knives under their jackets.
“We have enough,” the same one says. “Conspiring against the state, urging armed uprising, working with foreign elements.”
“Uh huh, which ones?”
“The Salafi plot,” the other one says, his accent marks him as straight from a village in the Jebel Ansariya. “Making sectarian plots.”
“Really?” my father interrupts. “My daughter is a salafi?” he starts laughing. “Look at her: can’t you see that that is ridiculous? She doesn’t even cover any more … and if you have really read even half of what she has written, you know how ridiculous that is. When was the last time you heard a wahhabi, or even someone from the brotherhood say that wearing hijab is the woman’s choice only?”
he pauses, they don’t say anything.
“I did not think so,” he goes on. “When was the last time you saw one of those write that there should be no religion as religion of teh state?”
“When was the last time you saw them saying that the gays should be allowed the right to marry, a man to a man or a woman to a woman?”
“And when you say nothing, you show,” he says, “that you have no reason to take my daughter.”
They say nothing. Then one whispers something to the other, he smiles.
“Uh huh,” the man says, “so your daughter tells you everything, huh?”
“Of course,” my father says.
“Did she tell you that she likes to sleep with women?” he grins, pure poison, feeling like he has made a hit. “That she is one of those faggots who fucks little girls?” (the arabic he used is far cruder … you get the idea)
My dad glances at me. I nod; we understand each other.
“She is my daughter,” he says and I can see the anger growing in his eyes, “and she is who she is and if you want her, you must take me as well.”
“Stupid city-fuckers,” says the same guy. “All you rich pansies are the same. No wonder she ends up fucking girls and kikes” (again, the Arabic is much rawer ,,,)
He steps twoards me and puts his hand on my breast.
“Maybe if you were with a real man,” he lears, “you’d stop this nonsense and lies; maybe we should show you now and let your pansy father watch so he understands how real men are.”
I am almost trembling with rage. My dad moves his head slightly to tell me to be silent.
“What are you?” he says. “Did the jackal sleep with the monkey before you were born? What are your names?”
They tell him. He nods
“Your father,” he says to the one who threatened to rape me, “does he know this is how you act? He was an officer, yes? And he served in …” (he mentions exactly and then turns to the other) “and your mother? Wasn’t she the daughter of …?”
They are both wide-eyed, yes, that is right,
“What would they think if they heard how you act? And my daughter? Let me tell you this about her; she has done many things that, if I had been her, I would not have done. But she has never once stopped being my daughter and I will never once let you do any harm to her. You will not take her from here. And, if you try, know that generations of her ancestors are looking down on you. Do you know what is our family name? You do? Then you know where we stood when Muhammad, peace be upon him, went to Medina, you know who it was who liberated al Quds, you know too, maybe, that my father fought to save this country from the foreigners and who he was, know who my uncles and my brothers were … and if that doesn’t shame you enough, you know my cousins and you will leave here.
“You will leave her alone and you will tell the rest of your gang to leave her alone. And I will tell you something now because I think maybe you are too stupid to figure this out on your own. You are alawiyeen; do not deny that, I know you both are. We are Sunni. You know that. And in your offices and in your villages they are telling you that all of you must stand shoulder to shoulder now because we are coming for you as soon as we can and we will serve you as they have served ours in the land of the two rivers. So you are scared. I would be too.
“So you come here to take Amina. Let me tell you something though. She is not the one you should fear; you should be heaping praises on her and on people like her. They are the ones saying alawi, sunni, arabi, kurdi, duruzi, christian, everyone is the same and will be equal in the new Syria; they are the ones who, if the revolution comes, will be saving Your mother and your sisters. They are the ones fighting the wahhabi most seriously. You idiots are, though, serving them by saying ‘every sunni is salafi, every protester is salafi, every one of them is an enemy’ because when you do that you make it so.
“Your Bashar and your Maher, they will not live forever, they will not rule forever, and you both know that. So, if you want good things for yourselves in the future, you will leave and you will not take Amina with you. You will go back and you will tell the rest of yours that the people like her are the best friends the Alawi could ever have and you will not come for her again.
“And right now, you two will both apologize for waking her and putting her through all this. Do you understand me?”
And time froze when he stopped speaking. Now, they would either smack him down and beat him, rape me, and take us both away … or …
the first one nodded, then the second one.
“Go back to sleep,” he said, “we are sorry for troubling you.”
And they left!
As soon as the gate shut ,,, I heard clapping; everyone in the house was awake now and had been watching from balconies and doorways and windows all around the courtyard … and everyone was cheering …
MY DAD had just defeated them! Not with weapons but with words … and they had left …
I hugged him and kissed him; I literally owe him my life now.
And everyone came down and hugged and kissed, every member of the family, and the servants and everyone … we had won … this time …
My father is a hero; I always knew that … but now I am sure …
and in the night we celebrated this little victory; they may come back but maybe not …
he made a few calls in the middle of the night; woke up some people (and found some not sleeping) who are in teh regime and told them about the goons’ visit. They may have consequences fall on them (which is why I do not give their names) and probably won’t be sent out again … if they haven’t quit.
Maybe they will tell others; leave the ‘liberals’ alone … maybe not. Only time will tell.
So, when my father says he will not leave until either democracy comes or he is dead, I have no choice but to stay. Not because he is making me, but because he is not making me.
We sent the rest away; any who can, any who will left for Beirut. I cannot go. He’s staying so so will I.
Contributed by Amina A.