Yesterday my phone beeped while I was having dinner with a group of people.
“It’s in two days…” read the SMS from one of our close friends.
I looked at it intensely then put down the phone and listened to the array of complaints hailing on the table about mobile service providers. Focus on this, I tried to convince myself. My stubborn mind, however, would not listen to me. It drifted far away, beyond the reach of any mobile network.
The truth is, I wish it mattered whether your “death anniversary” was in two days or fifty. Since you left us a year ago my dear friend, you have been constantly on my mind. Sometimes you make me laugh, like when I imagine you suddenly standing between two clashing groups, raising both of your hands and yelling, “BOO.” I imagine the reaction of the armed men, their confusion, and I smile thinking of your gift. Sometimes tears roll down my face. Other times I wish you would give my mind a break.…then I take it back quickly.
Why do we feel the need to remember the exact moment of death? I personally try not to remember that specific dreadful day. I try hard to erase the details from my memory, but they cling to my thoughts like shiny leeches to my skin. I don’t want to remember how weak, helpless, and distraught I felt. I don’t want to remember how many times I wished I could’ve used my so-called “conflict resolution skills” to engage in a long dialogue with Mr. ‘Izrail. I would’ve pleaded with the Angel of death to release your soul, explaining that we really need you here.
“Please Mr. ‘Izraeil, we need his childlike laughter to replace the darkness we feel inside. We need his “Tablet” with its infinite lectures and books so he can read to us what Albert Camus says about life, and what Ahmed Matar says about Arab regimes in ways we can’t…Yemen needs him because…..”
But you would interrupt us and with a smirk say: “your words won’t work on him Atiaf.” I would turn back to you and say, “they did!”
I guess, we can all dream, but eventually, we will have to wake up to the nightmare of reality. In the real world, I didn’t have superpowers to bring you back from the dead, nor was I able to convince ‘Izrail to keep you here with us, for us, and for Yemen.
Speaking of dreaming, I was just joking when I asked you guys to “visit” me in my dreams if any of you died, but thank you for remembering. It’s nice to see you from time to time.
This is not a tribute to you, for no words can do you justice. Why I’m posting this publically today is still a mystery to me, but maybe I would like to join the crowd, and maybe, just maybe, releasing this short message to the universe will mean it will reach you, somewhere, somehow.
I hope you are not offended if I don’t do anything special tomorrow. To me, every day is a 5th of September.
I miss you, but you already know that.