A Man With Balls, Yet I Cry

Friday 5 February 202112:49 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

أنا رجل بقضيب وأبكي

At first you will feel unsettled, then you will accuse me of being crude and lacking manners, or at best you’d say that I am a rude man flaunting his manhood, but that is not the case, quite the opposite, actually.

All I want to say is that I am a man with a penis, and I cry... I am a man who cries very often.

My aunt used to call me “crybaby” during my younger years, and this would drive my father crazy enough to hasten to beat me as soon as everyone left. My mother would close the door after my aunts leave, and in a swift lightning motion accompanying the sound of the shutting door, my father would strip his leather belt from the waist of his pants. Using his fist to hold its metal buckle, he would lash me on the back. I would hunch over myself and politely give him my back, listening to the skin lashes and stings as they whip my back.

My father was neither a security officer nor a military man of any rank, he was affectionate with his cat; It died in a car accident after I opened the door for her so she could escape from him. I was convinced his kindness to the cat was a fake show.

I sit there, firm and tough like a man; men do not cry and do not feel pain. The main function of a belt is to kill all nerve endings in the body, so that we could become men without any nerve endings – men that do not feel, growing up to encircle their bellies with new leather belts that remind them of that first burning sting every single time they feel weak.

Contrary to popular belief, my father was neither a security officer nor a military man of any rank or status, rather, he was affectionate with his cat, which died in a car accident after I opened the door to the house for her so she could escape him. I have always been convinced that that kindness of his was false, and that he was deceiving the cat to a personal end of his that I had not known. He was a man who loved necks; my exposed neck that he would slap whenever I bent my back at the dinner table, and the necks of grilled chicken. I used to feel that I was one of the chickens that he raised for slaughter as soon as it was fattened up enough, and all of those slaps were nothing but a preparation for the grill. I differed from his chickens in that I was very skinny, and I think that was what he hated about me and blamed my mom for.

My father was a man who loved necks; he would slap my exposed neck at every opportunity, just as he snapped chicken necks. I felt like one of the fattened-up chickens he raised to slaughter, and those slaps were preparation for the broiler grill

Dictator and Father: One Image in Our Country

Nearly ten years ago, it was Arab Spring, and I was twenty years old and my lips had not yet kissed a girl. No, even more than that, I don't remember ever speaking to a girl in Damascus. I was a young man obsessed with news channels. I distinctly remember the January 25 revolution very well, especially the day Mubarak stepped down. It was almost six in the afternoon, and my father was standing in our yard preparing grilled necks, his favorite meal, when I yelled out, “Mubarak has fallen! Mubarak has fallen!” and then collapsed in tears. Fortunately, my mother had taken the knife from my father, or else who knows what could have happened; my neck maybe would have made an appearance on the dinner table.

He lunged at me with his eyes bulging out of their sockets. It seemed as if his head would almost explode in anger. Fortunately, he was wearing black pajamas, with a dark blood red line of color running down the sides, and his leather belt was too distant for him in his outburst of anger. He fell with all his bulk right on my face. I almost suffocated that day, and I experienced the return to life after death. I yelled out to him with a trembling voice, “You are like him, the dictator of the house, and you will fall just like him.”

He froze in place but did not utter a single word, just kept beating me as if his hands were completely separate from his body. He was moving his hands in the air without striking me. His body was drowning as he tried to breathe, trying to survive using his hands until he got tired, felt helpless, and just stopped.

We were young men and women dreaming of a new Syria. That day I was happily cheering on campus. We were holding hands until the batons began to land and on our bodies and I heard the sound of lashes. I stood crying in shock, and crying got me arrested.

The Executioner in Syria... An Idea

A few months later, the Syrian revolution started – the uprising as I like to call it. I did not hesitate or stop to think for a single moment before chanting against the dictator. My life had no meaning without the movement. Maybe I even wanted to shout out loud in front of people in the streets, “You are just like him, a dictator... You will fall like him.” On the streets, I would tear up before the demonstration began, and I would cry, cry in anguish when security men would spread around the demonstration with their batons. Unlike the rest of the demonstrations that I saw on TV across other provinces, killing was not the preferred ritual in the Damascus demonstrations.

In Damascus, they liked arresting. Killing and suppressing the demonstration was not the goal, rather, it was the torture of all protesters alike, and this is what I realized after our demonstration at the university. We were young men and women in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, dreaming of a new Syria. A Syria without Al-Assad. A humane Syria without any animal-like characteristics. That day I was happy. I was on campus screaming and cheering, we were holding hands until the batons began to land on bodies, and I began to hear the sounds of stings and lashes. I stood still, crying in shock, and here my crying was the reason for my arrest.

In detention, you long for your father the executioner. A big difference is that the executioner here relishes in your tears and groans of pain, so you must not scream. There I learned to stop crying – more honestly and accurately – in fact, I was unable to cry.

Less than a month after arriving in Beirut, I received a WhatsApp message that my father died from a heart attack. I didn’t reply, and turned my phone off. I then traveled to countries where people only bow out of courtesy.

Everyone Bows in a Country Devoid of Dignity

I do not know how I got out of detention, and I was too weak to ask. I did not want to know the truth… The truth is that my father begged and plead with everyone. The truth is that that tough man sold the land in front of our house before he sold his dignity, in order to pay the jailer a bribe to have some mercy on me, even though he did not stop torturing me for a single moment. I got out on a cold autumn morning, unable to walk, having also lost the ability to speak for an entire week, that is, until the day I traveled outside Damascus. At the Lebanese border, I did not cry while I was saying goodbye to my mother. Only my father cried in anguish and said to me, “A man bows down for the sake of his children.”

Less than a month after my arrival in Beirut, I received the news of my father's passing from a heart attack, through a WhatsApp message that I did not reply to. I denied it and turned off my phone. I then traveled a great deal, to countries where men and women only bow down out of courtesy and politeness.

The dictator did not fall after all. What had only fallen was the goodness of my father -- the man who loved the cat and loved me greatly.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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