Saturday, May 24, 2008

Letter to Abdullah

22nd May 2008

Dearest Abdullah,

The “cage went in search of a bird” - Kafka.

It was only a matter of time – but still, I didn’t expect you to be caged up for this long. Each word is a dagger wrenched out of a heart weighed heavy with shame, guilt and sorrow over what you are having to endure. The pen doesn’t know what the heart will say, but you have seen these words even before they appeared on this page since you are closer to my heart than the jugular vein. The pen is merely executing this letter-writing exercise as a postdated transcription of my tormented thoughts drained by internal bleeding.

I feel powerless in the face of a system that conspires to crush threats to its authority with brute force - which is the precise intended effect of your arrest. Yes you, Abdullah, threatened its power and authority. This either credits you with extreme strength or credits the throne with extreme insecurity. You and the others are the real heroes, and I recognise that because I know what you are about and what you were trying to do. Like the character 'Rahmatullah' in the story you wrote in your last letter, you will go down to save the others - you will take the bullets and the hits. I really want to read the next part of the story to see what you think will happen to the Turkman - I can't help wonder if your fates are intertwined.

In your letter you say that “they can fire bullets at us and at our dreams but they can not stop us from dreaming”. Abdullah, they no longer fire the bullets, instead they have made us turn the guns against each other. The dreams are nightmares … just to let you know that Attiyatullah made a grand performance recently and received standing ovations – only in Bahrain and Israel this year is fascism being openly celebrated… I’d join in the fun if it wasn’t so audacious or if I hadn’t been batting on the wrong side.

I should be praying for your quick release, but I find myself wondering if it is better for you to stay where you are. Since December 21st, the day of your arrest, I can’t say there has been a single substantive development in the country; the most hated American president came to visit for the first time to try the local bacheh and harees, I think he was impressed by the hospitality he received – yiqtil il mayit o yimshi fi ijnazeteh. It really did feel like the final nail in the Arab coffin.

Like K. in Franz Kafka’s book called The Trial you have been arrested for an unspecified crime and you have had to participate in a theatrical trial that I’m sure leaves you delusional with the comic state of reality. K. did not know what the charges against him were. It wouldn’t have made a difference if he had known because once arrested there are only
three possible outcomes to his struggle: definitive acquittal, ostensible acquittal, and indefinite postponement. In the book, there is zero chance of definitive acquittal, therefore K. is almost forced to plead guilty to a charge for a crime unknown to him. In your case, you have had to endure the seemingly indefinite postponement and the prospect of ostensible acquittal; living with the risk of re-arrest. I tried to get a hold of an Arabic translation of this book for you, but thought maybe it wasn’t the best time for you to read it for obvious reasons. It does leave one feeling slightly paranoid and despaired with modern day bureaucratic systems with unknown agendas. I really do feel safe now that I have a smart ID card in the hands of such trusted and transparent authority .

One last thing, if it is of any comfort, some eight other Bahraini guys managed to get lost and accidently ventured into a no-go security area in Saudi. They haven’t been seen since. We should be grateful really that you are in a Bahraini jail – torture and all. They were arrested for reading the directions on a map wrong - imagine what would happen if they had committed thought-crime!

Stay strong, passionate and committed…a hero needs no saviour, but we definitely need you!

With love.