Mleeta Resistance Tourist Landmark - Lebanon

Interviewing a Martyr's Mother

By: Majida Ismail Raya

I snatched my pen, carried my blank sheets, and stepped forward towards that blue gate that led to a wide path, splitting the garden into two equal parts.
My head was packed with confusing questions, looking for answers. I came here to conduct an interview with Um Yasser, the mother of the martyr who fell in the recent unique operation. I was driven by a great desire, wishing to hear every word she may utter. However, I lingered in my steps wondering: "What made me linger? Was it the majestic meeting with the mother of the martyr? Or was it the scent that emanates from the soil and penetrates my bones? I didn't know."
I took a deep breath until my lungs were full with air and proceeded forward towards the main door of the house.
The sky was darkened with drizzly clouds, the drops of which decorated the bare branches and drew my attention. They were like tears of dew.

Adjacent to the wall, an ancient oak tree rose with pride; its green colors brightened further by the rain drops to glow like a green jewel.
The colors of winter embraced each other in that garden, where January brought its harshness to the trees, except for one that insisted to maintain its eminence, the roses of which bloomed with pink, defying the bitterness of the cold.
It took me several minutes to cross this short path and reach finally the main doorstep. I knocked the door gently, and a young girl opened, leading me to where her mum sat down.
I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of that room. Was it different from the other rooms? Despite the simplicity of the furniture and the decoration, yet it mirrored a great taste, creating strange stillness. No, this certainly was not the reason behind such feeling; perhaps the reason was that woman who stood up to welcome me with greetings. She was in her fifties with some lines of wrinkle beginning to appear on her face. However, this did not stop her face from keeping its beauty, drawing your attention to glance at its features.
After her welcoming and greeting, I sat before her to write each word shy may utter. I was trying to write down some of her passion as she spoke about her everlasting love, which remains present inside her heart.
In conclusion, my question was: "What is your utmost wish for the present?"
Her eyes watered with tears and her choking voice made the pen tremble in my hand. She said: "I wish to go to the very place where my son martyred in order to plant a rose."
I could not hold myself and cried with tears. I said, "I hope your wish comes true when this land is liberated."
The dawn of May 25, 2000 arrived with the odor of victory and liberation. The Israeli enemy has been defeated. Its troops withdrew from most of the lands of south Lebanon.
People were racing towards the dream that came true with each person wishing to bless his breath by inhaling the air from which he has been deprived for a long time.
I did not forget the wish of that woman. I decided to witness its fulfillment. The officials in the resistance made all the arrangements to take Um Yasser to the place where her son had martyred—a rough location where it is difficult to reach.
I stood in front of that house once more, but the news had raced me to her. She was a woman in her fifties, waiting with patience and reverence for her wish, which loomed in the horizon for many years, to come true. The ground of the garden was waving with green. The odor of her roses was emanating with the colors of the life to reach everywhere. I felt the warmth of the sun that mirrored lights of joy and remedy. Anyone seeing her at that very moment could feel the pulse of life.
The ancient oak tree continues to rise with pride, with birds singing on its branches, telling the stories of victory with the joy of spring.
When we met again, I smiled at her and she returned a smile to quickly embrace me with eagerness. She looked at me and asked me with a deep voice: "Did you come to witness the fulfillment of my wish?" I gestured with my head in approval and we went ahead together to the car that was waiting at the entrance.
Vehicles were motoring like caravans towards the south, where citizens of different towns and villages took to the streets to celebrate victory and liberation. People were dancing in circles along the roads and fields. Women cried and sung with joy.
From time to time, I would look stealthily at the face of Um Yasser, who was also observing what was going on outside the car. I could see her eyes glowing with a light that illuminated her heart.
Our car started going off the main road to take minor roads until we reached our destiny after a long journey.
When the car stopped, Um Yasser exited to investigate the place. Suddenly, she kneeled down to the ground reaching out for the soil. She took a fistful of soil and smelled it, took a deep breath and cried: "My son, your odor continues to dwell here. I can see your spirit with the spirits of the martyrs opening the gates of liberty, advancing people to unify God and exclaim his greatness. I see that your wedding on this very day is much greater than our wedding and your joy is greater than hours. You are the living martyr, and you are walking tall with pride."
Out of warm-heartedness, Um Yasser run her hand over the soil from which her son's soul rose to heavens. One time she would embrace his picture and other times she would kiss it.
My heart palpitated strongly while my senses could not help me conceive her actions. We continued watching her spontaneous actions with her improvised words that streamed with warm feelings. She held the bud of the flower that she brought with her and planted it in that very spot to commemorate the loved one who planted his body in that ground as a martyr.

This tourist landmark is run by the Lebanese Association for Tourism & Tradition

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