Abdulghani Al-Khanjar: “Jaw” Novel Hit Me with Wave of Emotions, I Felt Everything
2016-12-21 - 6:44 am
One day when we were held at the National Security Agency prison, after our arrest as part of what was known as "the August 2010 cell," when I had the chance to meet the lawyers, I told attorney Isa Ibrahim that "we are subjected to torture and humiliation, and we are insulted. The torture did not stop nor did the degrading treatment we received." What should we do, I asked. "Should we resist the national security agency officers?" That day, I was trying to keep it together and hold back my tears and conceal my pain in front of Ibrahim and the group of lawyers. Only on that day, despite everything that had happened to us, I teared up for the first time when I saw compassion and sympathy in his eyes.
It took me seven hours to read all the chapters of the novel "Jaw". Indeed, I re-lived the agony of this story, from beginning to end. Quickly and non-stop, I read the story. I was taken on a journey through the bloody brutal events that detainees are subject to in the largest of the ruling Al Khalifa family's prisons in Bahrain. During these hours I spent reading this novel, I felt everything. I felt the cold water poured over the heads of prisoners and the batons beating their bodies. I sensed the odor of tear gas, and the screams of tortured prisoners ringed in my ears. I sensed every single detail that I even, for a split of a second, thought I was there with the Jaw prisoners in those tents exposed to episodes of torture and insults, as if I was with activists Naji Fateel, Abdulali Singace, and Mr. Abbas Al-Samee' who is on death row.
As I went through the lines of the novel, I imagined myself drowning in the ink it was written in, because a story like this is not written in regular ink but rather bright red blood. I imagined myself drenched in the blood of prisoners as I, at the zenith of my "intoxicated" mind, passed through these moments of suffering illustrated in the "Jaw" novel by prisoner "Jihad".
I remembered Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace and Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al-Meqdad, who are sentenced to dozens of years behind bars. I remembered when we were subjected to various methods of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment together at the National Security Agency prisons. I remembered when I told them: "If we do not fight and reject these executioners and brutal actions regardless of the price [we pay], all prisoners will be subjected to them." At the time, we were the first group of detainees that was exposed to these criminal acts, many of which were mentioned in the novel. It was as if we predicted that the price of our salvation, as a nation seeking freedom and dignity, is to have every one of our people have a taste of this brutality.
As I read this novel, I stopped at many instances and wept. My body shivered at every time "Jihad" quivered. In many other cases; however, the novel brought me to life and gave me a sense of pride and resilience. Even the mention of the beasts described by the author urged me to picture them standing before me, which reminded me of the National Security officers: Isa Hassan Al-Nuaimi, Badr Ibrahim Al-Ghayth, Yousef Al-Manai and Salman Al-Shawoosh.
The novel is characterized by a distinguished sense of narrative and linguistic originality. It sticked to the facts and did not alter the reality. Genuine emotions were constantly oozing out of every chapter. Every part reflected true emotions. Jihad depicted everything, from the feelings of thirst, hunger, pain, insult, to pride, resilience and trust in God's Will. He even described the exhaustion of the prison officers and their despair of breaking the will of those behind bars. How could they not feel that, when the author wrote this novel from inside prison, fully aware that he is creating something great. This is the secret behind the formation of the identity of our revolutionary youths who resist despair and fear, refuse surrendering to the oppressors and reject giving up on their just causes no matter what happens. This is true inspiration. This is true sacrifice. It is when you write not for yourself, praise, or fame but when you write to voice a cause, defend the stolen rights of a people, and stand in the face of a tyrant without mentioning your name or revealing your identity.
The high awareness that victory is inevitable was reflected in the novel. Even the conversations revealed how deep the awareness was and reflected the ultimate goal. Even the chapter that talked about foreign prisoners revealed the great morals and high values of the people. Indeed, it is a novel that crosses geographical borders.
There are important details mentioned in the novel. So, we as activists, have to take on the responsibility of using them in any possible way we can in the pursuit of the oppressors, murderers and perpetrators of these crimes behind prison walls against thousands of detainees and prisoners. I salute "Jihad" and all the resilient prisoners. I also salute "Jihad's" mother, who eagerly awaits the day her beloved son will become free of the tyrant's prison.
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