21 August 2013

War Cry

A Bahraini boy takes part in a demonstration against the killing of a Shiite protester during clashes with Bahraini police, on February 22, 2013 in the village of Daih, West of the capital Manama. (Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images) found via WoDu Media

twelve years old
we went into battle on our BMX bikes
a mounted cavalierly of pubescent white boys
out to fuck the world

not long after leaving the safety of our fort
we saw the enemy in the distance

they were armed with
2x4s wrapped in barbwire
2x4s with protruding rusty nails

most of us felt like re-treating
even if no one verbalized this


one of us
i can't remember who
picked up a giant rock
and yelled

a death curdling war cry

i momentarily pretended i didn't hear it
but the offensive had begun
and could not be called into retreat

onwards we charged
as a unified unit
we would not be intimidated
even though secretly, we were all shitting our underpants

the enemy, far too hastily re-treated bare-foot into the labyrinth of their dusty village
we felt invincible
but the worrier in me, played out other outcomes in my over-active mind

from then on we feared not sneaking into their territory
for cheap burgers and shawarmas
forbidden sweets
and bicycle parts

here we are
try and say something about it boys!

one night the enemy launched a surprise attack
and stole my bicycle
you don't steal a twelve year old's bicycle
so i went into the village
looking for blood
but i couldn't find them

once i saw two of our enemy holding hands
boys holding hands i thought, what's this?
hey, gay boys!
gay boys! are you a couple?
are you romancing?
they calmly walked away but i knew there would be retribution

a fight was organised
i preferred spontaneous fights
but, oh well
a location
some ground rules
and a time

given that both sides
broke the ground rules
the fight never kicked off
and life went on

until one day i was ambushed
by an effort at reconciliation
an outstretched brown hand reaching for my own

stubbornly i refused
and was thusly punched in the face
this was the punch i had been waiting for
and so we fought
after all that time

the outcome doesn't matter
soon the berlin wall would come down
while more impenetrable walls were built up between us and the enemy

there were no more cheap shawarmas and bike parts 
undercover missions behind their lines, deep into their village were replaced by 
sanitized times in fortressed compounds, segregated beaches and exclusive clubs

however, nearly a man
on more than one occasion i stumbled drunk through their territory
still looking
but i never found them

and now i think of lungfuls of tear gas
i think of brothers in prison without charge
i think of denial of their most basic rights
i think of torture

and i wish we were still fighting our stupid little war

-For the Shi'a Youth of Bahrain August 2013