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    Яαgιи Яαvєи
    Cairo, Egypt
    Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.
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Tapping at my chamber door

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In the name of my country... we marched

I crouched deeper and deeper, hiding behind a trench that is now the grave of my fellow countrymen. I am the last of the remaining pawns that were sent as the first and apparently last line of defense aiming at scaring away the enemy. We marched as proud and glorious infantry, designated soldiers sent off to bring glory to a kingdom that I once called 'home'. We were patriots once, now we're just corpses lying in the mud holding banners that once stood for something meaningful, a worn out rifle, and one very, very scared man.

Two weeks ago, I was only a student. The future seemed worthy of my efforts. Everything was certain, from my point of view. I had a dream of holding a successful job, marrying a beautiful woman, raising my children in a white and happy home, but things change. When you think you're walking gracefully in the right direction, towards a better life; that's when your name gets called upon, when you hear voices in your head calling out for you, asking you for a favor… in the name of your country.

It was 11:35 pm. That's when the first of many pawns got shot at the border. That's when a state of war was declared. At midnight, I wore a uniform that replicates something dead and still, then I became a soldier. I enrolled into the army, running to the rescue of my countrymen, of my rook and my king; things that I fooled myself into believing were mine, worth protecting, worth dying for. On we marched with patriotism in our eyes, invincibility in our hearts, a loaded rifle on our shoulder, and a banner that held in a promise of a better future. Young we were to know that we should have carried our tombstones instead; they'd be heavier, but would have made far more sense.

And on we marched, with a promise in the background that we'd be backed with knights in shiny armors, prayers of elder bishops for us to be safe from harm, to return home with promised pride and glory, a rook we've left behind with snipers covering our asses from an enemy we can't see, guardian angels watching over. We were told we were only to march up ahead for a couple days, just to scare them off. A worst-case scenario was written in the form of a Greek epic poem before we left off that we’d only have to fight one battle with a couple one-eyed ogres… that we’d leave as men and return as legendary warriors and Olympic gods. Little did we know that the ancient Greeks only saw the making of gods when they’d burn inedible and useless green leaves that grew on mount Olympus, leaves later referred to as marijuana. My country must have smoked up one too many joints. We marched on, chasing a ghost of a Greek god of war that once existed in a dead man’s imagination, hallucination, self-delusion.

'Dream on, boys, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream', we chanted. Young and stupid we were.

The first lights of dawn broke in as we reached the border. We reported in our location through radio in a code believed to be unbreakable. We dug in a deep, long trench that we thought would remain as one. Evolution of perspective is a tricky, tricky thing. We camped behind the trench for days waiting for our war, our epic, not knowing that what we left behind as home has become a destroyed piece of land. In our long wait, each of us explored his life and his dreams with everyone. We fooled around, pretended we were the legendary heroes we were destined to be. We revived our reasons in joining the march. Some did it for mere recognition and self-gratification, but mostly we all marched for nothing more than an attempt to win back the respect our nation once had. We stood up for our culture and our religion, our dreams, notions that meant the world to us, simple rights that the world seemed to misunderstand. Basic rights never meant food and shelter. This is the purpose of our existence, the reason behind our creation. This freewill is everything that they fear; their racist acts, their secret terrorist group, their communist threat, their anti-west scheme, and their nuclear bomb. Our march was utterly a message we were to deliver whatever the consequences were to be.

We held our positions and guarded our posts as we stood tall and proud. We waited a bit more with an unbeatable strategy in our minds, each knew his role. Chess pieces we were, each waiting for his objective to conclude, his chance to get picked up by the ever-invisible player we named freewill. It must have been two weeks. We've lost track of time. We've almost run out of food. We radioed in asking all sorts of questions that we needed answered, questions about food, the one-eyed ogre, the knights in shiny armor, but all we got was a promise, that's when the enemy made his move…

It began with an explosion. We looked ahead through our binoculars only to find a whole army ready to fight and willing to kill. The one-eyed ogre we had imagined is now a herd. The mission we were sent to do is no longer just an ordinary mission, it's suicide. The message we were drafted to deliver has lost its clarity. They're just too many and we're too few to fight, too weak to run. They marched towards us with Uzis and grenades and all we had were rifles. It started raining grenades. We started breathing all sorts of chemical gas. Green fumes and smoke blocked our destined heaven. Dust covered the air, rubbed off over my brain. I couldn't breath. I couldn't see. I began seeing visions, hallucinations of the Greeks. I stood still our ground, a scapegoat refusing to fall easy. Flames were everywhere, burning up a fellow countryman's flesh. As the enemy approached I felt so small. I felt betrayed, I felt like a pawn standing his square, by himself, on the other side of the chessboard. Homer forgot to include this stanza in his great epic, a stanza we were destined to write as we fall, and a piece of art it was. This war has turned into a game that freewill is no part of. It's always been politics on both sides of the board playing with the chess pieces that we had become. The knight rode off on his monkey. The queen was blinded by the teargas fumes along with the rest of us. All squares seemed gray now and we had nowhere else to go. Our great epic strategy has no place here anymore. The bishop lost his vision and his heart now turns to Satan. I felt fooled, tricked, betrayed. The king has sold us out. They knew our every move. In the far distance I feel my kingdom chanting 'Burn baby, burn'. My fellow soldiers and I had marched to make a difference, but as of this final moment I've been sitting here, lying on my back, crouching, praying not to be seen, exploring new meanings of the word regret. The cries mixed with prayers and explosions, deafening music I no longer wish to hear, bells tolling, calling my name, ironically asking me for a favor. My freewill is way off-key.

What was once a trench is now my savior, protecting me from hell. I lied behind it for what seemed like hours, with a worn out rifle and a banner of my country, a flag that means nothing to me now; and in this sleep of death what things can one learn. I learn that the two politicians playing this chess game would eventually collect their dead, shake hands, and go home. This move is referred to as castling. It's when the beloved king hides behind his mighty rook and sends his pawns off to soak in their own blood and die, with nothing but a promise of a safe return and a better tomorrow, a lie that's lived through the ages. As I lie there I can finally define the word treason with my own eyes. I wish to have a coaster for my blood ring not to stain on my land, my once called home. When I die, I wish to be exhumed and crowned king of the delusional patriots, the classical idiots. The epic poem now is writing itself, its final verses, verses about a king's treason to his soldiers, his children; verses about the enemy having memorized our every trick and every move and more, a verse that discusses hatred, defeat, and despair. I lie there in my trench, my newly discovered grave, exploring new meanings for words I had forever swallowed. Victory seemed like a fool's dream. Patriotism is a scar that darkened our way and led us into a hole we've fallen into before. One never learns. History ain't real. The monarchy I was deemed to die for is a lie. The only solidarity that survives is that in war, all pawns lose. What was once referred to as the tragedy of war is now a Greek Coliseum where gladiators can fall, where the world can watch and be entertained.

In my trench, I lied, fearing that if I look up I die. I cry in silence. I cover myself with my countrymen's bodies and I hide my face behind a flag, a flag that once stood for something deep…

… and the whole world is watching the graveyard, once a savior from harm, once an ordinary trench where pawns cheered and laughed as legendary heroes who believed, a hole where they died…

a place for me to hide… in the name of my country.

you sould write more at strange hours cos' i think the weirder the hour the deeper your thoughts.
i felt like i was there in that trench.

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October 25, 2006
I said after hearing Hassan el Asmar singing 'Olly Eih. Olly Ah.':
Howa da elle mebawaz el balad!

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