But I Will Stop for Now

"Rawya Hussein Bin Hamid"

I carefully remember the details of Saturday, August 27, 2022–the day when time decelerated, and protracted itself. 

I remember having breakfast, then rushing, then slowing down, I remember there was fear, followed by more slowness–all of this laced with a tinge of satire. People don’t naturally expect death, though it’s always near. It sits where we sit and takes bites out of our rice and usban; it even sips our green tea. 

Excuse me, I’m jumping ahead. I’m going back in time to last night, when we shared this lavish meal. Time turns back only to twist itself around my neck, suffocating me. 

Time repeats itself, becomes scorching and asphyxiating. It freezes in my veins, and within a moment, I drown in it like quicksand. The moment repeats and repeats, as though etching itself into my veins, eliminating the possibility of forgetting. I will never forget. 

It hurts to think that a fellow countryman (who shares a love for Libya with me and my father) was capable of firing that bullet. It took the shape of a middle finger–like a great "fuck you" released by the universe. Time stretched out, wrapped itself around the bullet before it settled in my father's right temple and killed him, leaving a round, red stain on his bed in our beloved house. 

I’m not convinced that this moment was just a moment; 40 days later, I’m still living it. 

People came and left; they put up a funeral tent and took it down. They ate and drank, then laughed, and I laughed with them–but I’m stuck there, being pulled into that red circle like it was my personal black hole. I’m roaming its orbit as time encircles me. I’m now one with the bullet that punctured my father's memory. 

 

Now, I’m with my father in his teenage years. He is studying by himself in the university dorm room in Canada. My father worked tirelessly for 11 years, alone and estranged, studying to turn his brain into a beautiful maze I’ve loved wandering through. My father invested his youth and the most beautiful days of his life in packing his mind with the ideas that had burst in one absurd, outrageous moment–maybe that’s why I love that red stain so much. It’s made of my father's ideas. 

Writing can’t capture what happened, but it can document it. Perhaps I’ll gain the courage, one day, to take a step and jump back into a parallel time where the bitterness of loss is tolerable. Or perhaps one day, his death would gain some meaning.

But for now, I’ll stop–and I never stop–at the documentation of Saturday, August 27, 2022, when Libya bared its fangs and swallowed 33 civilians, and didn't bother to provide an explanation.

Born in Tripoli, she is a social researcher, short story writer, and artist. Her stories have been published, and her drawings exhibited, in various publications and forums in Tripoli.

Rawya Hussein Bin Hamid
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