Part I: Ahmed
Ahmed came to my front door to apologize.
I had no intention of talking. My blood was still boiling. I was going to pulverize him but not anywhere near earshot of my parents.
“Let’s take a walk.” I said.
We walked a few blocks from my house and Ahmed offered me his hand.
“Look, I sorry Bete.: (The Bahrinai kids always called me Bete as I don’t think there is a ‘P’ sound in Arabic.
“It was not right to try to fight you with a scissors.”
He offered me his hand.
I looked him straight in the eye, “Get fucked.” I said.
“I trying abologize, Bete.” He continued.
“Fuck you and your apology.”
His eyes just about popped out of their sockets and before I knew it his fist had connected with my face.
The previous day we had attempted to have a pre-arranged fight. Like some fucking rumble out of 1950s American teenage film. You see, I’d made fun of Ahmed’s younger brother for holding hands with his friends. My British mindset just couldn’t get around the fact that in some parts of the world, young men and boys sometimes like to hold each other’s hand.
“Hey gay boys! Where the fuck do you think you are going?” I’d shouted and they went running to Ahmed to tell him all about it.
Ahmed came up to me snarling and frothing that I had insulted his younger brother and rightly so. Then he picked up my skateboard, threw it tail first into the ground, causing the plywood to de-laminate in the ply.
“You are a cunt and you are fucking dead.” I told him.
“OK, Bete, two hours behind the cold store. We’ll fight.”
I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. “Why not now, dick head?”
“Two hours. Come by yourself.” Ahmed insisted.
There was no way I was going by myself. When I turned up, as expected, he had four mates with him. I’d brought three.
I was trying to psych myself into a fighting frenzy but the insanity of a pre-planned physical altercation had sent my over-analytical mind into a dwelling on the absurdity of it all.
Then Ahmed, beckoned. “Ok Bete, come on.”
We were both scared. Well I was and in hindsight assume he was also. I had no idea how tough Ahmed was but he certainly appeared crazy enough to have the potential to hurt me.
He was a year older than me but skinnier. We barely knew each other. We had some mutual friends and knew where each other lived. He was a rare middle class Bahraini. Most of my Bahraini friends were either dirt poor or filthy rich. I couldn’t get a read on him. I didn’t need anything from him and he didn’t have anything to gain from me.
We nodded at each other.
Then Ahmed reached into his pocket and pulled out half a pair of scissors. He put the ring through his middle finger and clenched his fist.
“You have to be fucking kidding.” I shook my head.
He said nothing.
I carried on, “You didn’t say anything about weapons. How about I go home and get my knife and we try this again?”
I had a knife all right.
Ahmed wasn’t OK with me evening out the stakes. And the fight was called off.
So very anti-climatic.
Ahmed had sucker punched me. It was a terrible punch and I immediately wrestled him to the ground, sat on him and began to hit him as almost hard as I could (but not quite, over and over.)
Until his friends came running from across the street.
“Okay, okay he has had enough!” They told me.
I wasn’t exactly ‘pulverizing’ him like I had intended. Truth be told, it really didn’t feel that great to pound away on someone who wasn’t fighting back. So it wasn’t difficult for me to stop punching him when his friends interrupted us. I pulled my mind back from the situation. I was still furious but in hindsight, I think I wanted to get hurt more than I wanted to hurt someone else.
I wanted the pins and needles whacked out of my numb and confused spirit. I wanted to feel. Because, win or lose, as long as I was bloodied and bruised, I would have had a clearer sense of where my place was in the world
Ahmed denied me that.
Perhaps that was a warped perspective but I think that was how my fourteen-year-old subconscious was working.
We never became friends like we should have. We saw each other around but totally ignored each other from after the fight.
A dense cloud looming over our heads forever more.