We Want to Combat Bread
Enab Baladi Issue # 82 – Sun, Sep. 15, 2013
Like all checkpoints in Al-Ghota, people going through the checkpoint of the Emigrants Camp know that they have to pull over their cars, buses and vans for thorough security checks. Security agents will request the ID card, residence permit, lease or home title and/or power, phone and water bills of residents who have always lived in the camp or who have immigrated to the camp. If the final destination was Adra central prison, then an ID card and visit permission slip will be also required.
There is a new development now. A member of the security check-point team boards the van. Passengers automatically submit their papers for inspection. Strangely enough, he starts yelling at the top of his lungs: “I do not want to combat terrorists. Let them roam the land free. I want to combat bread”. He immediately begins to open the shopping bags of passengers in search of his coveted item.
Abu-Khaled (86 years old) freezes in his seat fighting a burning tear. How would he feed his children? If the security agent finds the items in his shopping bag he will mercilessly confiscate them. The security agent asks Abu-Khaled: “how many bags of bread do you have?” I have four, Abu-Khaled answers. The agent finds six packs of bread in the shopping bag. He takes four and leaves two that would barely suffice to feed a family which had nothing to eat for days. Then he starts cussing and cursing. To conclude the charade he turns to Abu-Khaled and says: “Shame on you, a man of your age lying. Men, real men do not lie”.
Umm Samer( 75 years old) returned to the Emigrants camp from Kisweh having brought rations from the Red Crescent. When it was her turn to be inspected, she opened the shopping bags filled with flour and sugar which were in her possession to prove that they did not exceed the 5 kilograms of allowed rations. She was allowed to pass.
Umm Jihad, the 92 year old pilgrim wanted to please her grandchild who was deployed to the frontline, and had been fasting for over eight days. She brought him bread, he had been dreaming of bread. She tucked the bread next to her body to hide it. Having waited for so long to be searched the bread dried and started crumbling and falling off. The security team was amused by the scene and started ridiculing the old lady: “look, she is dripping bread. Her bones are made of bread. We must use a power zapper to shake any object attached to the body”.
Adel, the 35 year old employee, stands on line at the bakery. Two hours later a soldier comes and starts yelling:” you bastard why are you standing in the line dedicated to the military? Our military boot is more honorable than you and your ancestors”. Adel could not take this insult and a verbal brawl ensued. People attempted to silence Adel in fear for his safety while the soldier continued to threaten him that can deny him entry to his home. The soldier continued a one-upmanship game of love of country, pontificating about honor and morality. A few seconds later, he claimed his share of bread in full view of those who have been standing on line for hours, exhausted by hunger, pain and strenuous pursuit of crumbs to help them survive. The soldier then turned to them and said: “I’ll take the bread to my friends who are protecting you on the front lines, unlike you who are taking it to the Free Army”.
Another security agent winks at a girl barely 15 years old who came to buy bread for her brothers and sisters who were orphaned by the war. He calls on her in a masculine show off, in full view of the crowd. He takes money from her then proceeds to the military line and gets her the bread. Her femininity awakened his masculine feelings. He was not aware of the debilitating impact of the regime’s war machine on her family.
Between the fight for survival and the fight for dignity, the war continues to destroy everything in its path without any distinction between the two.