By: Fouad Merei
The boy's mother reproached him because he was beating the
fig tree strongly and repeatedly with a rusty iron bar. She
was shocked for seeing the tree trunk bleeding white blood
from its open wounds. She asked him about the reason for his
anger and realized suddenly that he was in such state for
the entire week, withdrawn into himself. He did not say a
word. He threw the "iron" from his hand and entered the
house without looking to his mother. It was obvious that he
did not want to look into her eyes because he did not want
her to discover the size of the anxiety that was nesting
inside his eyes. He is thirteen years old yet he behaves
like someone in his eighteenth year of age.
The wave of anxiety reached the mother's heart. Something
must have happened to the boy. She had to find out. "He is
hiding something from me and from his father," the mother
thought as she awaited the return of her husband, the mayor,
back home. She prepared a cup of hot milk, placed near the
boy as he read while hiding his face behind the book. She
did not want to disturb his mode with her questions.
In the evening, the family gathered around the dining table,
but Haitham failed to attend. His mother called him. He
replied saying that he did not have any appetite for food.
She looked at her husband wondering. The latter gestured
with his lips and she stood up to go where her son sat on
the backyard doorstep. A dim light seeped through the
opening between the door and the wall allowing vision to a
certain extent. She said to him:
- I think there is something wrong that happened. Can you
tell me what is going on?
- Ask my father, he knows better.
The boy said seriously leaving no doubt that there was
something serious going on. She said with challenge and
- But I want you to tell me because I am used to your
- I saw him talking to the collaborators.
- What is wrong with that! He is the mayor, he must speak to
- But his conversation with them was extremely friendly. I
saw him yesterday giving their officer large envelop.
- Don't ever question your dad.
She said her last words with a choke in her throat. If it
were not for the dimness of the place, Haitham would have
noticed the changing features of her face. She sat beside
him silent. The surprise gagged her. What can she say to her
son? She noticed recently that her husband was avoiding any
bad conversation about the occupation and the collaborators.
Why O Faris? Why did you enter this stupid burrow? These
issues are not of our concern. What if the older sons knew?
What about Ahmad, Mustafa and Ali in Beirut?
Suddenly, she shook herself out of her worries. She embraced
her son and whispered in his ear:
- Please, leave this issue for me. You must forget the
subject for a while. Promise me that you will!
- I can't.
- Try, I do not know other way to correct the issues.
- Ok, I will try.
- Fine then, come with me to the dining table and act
In the next day, a verbal conflict took place between the
mayor and his wife without the knowledge of the children.
Day after day, they began noticing that something was going
on between their parents. The words of courtesy and kindness
disappeared to be replaced by eyes of anger and repulsion.
Haitham was mostly affected by this situation. Before the
summer vacation ended, the mayor surprised his family with
his final decision:
- You will all travel to Beirut to live there. I have rented
an apartment for you. The entire family will unite there.
Manage for yourselves regarding schools whereas I will stay
The mother shockingly looked at him and said as she tried to
keep her tears:
- Is this true? I do not believe what is happening to us.
God forgive you!
Three months after the family's arrival to Beirut, a
significant event happened. Some of the people who arrived
from the occupied zone said that the occupation authorities
arrested the mayor in suspicion for his collaboration with
the Islamic resistance. The mayor's wife cried with Haitham
when two young men from the resistance arrived to their
house to declare that the resistance was going to take care
of the family of one of her men in captivity.