You Are a Fucking Christian!

Benghazi, Libya

Naguib was sitting in front of the shop trying to shoo the flies away as black thoughts kept popping into his mind. They wouldn’t be as easily scared off as the flies. Every time he succeeded in pushing one aside, another one ran in to take its place. “Looks like I am screwed,” he said to himself and let out a long sigh of despair.

Suddenly, a man walking down the road notorious for leading to hell started singing softly, “Broken hearts wear long faces with vacant eyes.”

He stopped in front of Naguib’s shop and asked him, “What’s up?”

Naguib snapped out of his trance and replied, “Everything’s fine.”

“This place looks like no man’s land to me.”

“That’s because this is indeed no man’s land.”

Naguib’s friend Muhammad, who was sitting in his car with his mother and sister, shouted to the man, “Naguib’s this town’s only king. That is beyond dispute.”

Naguib smiled and said, “I beg to differ.”

The man entered the shop and exited moments later with a pack of cigarettes and two bottles of water.

“God bless,” he said before walking away.

The ceasefire had come into effect a few days before, and peace prevailed for the first time in forever. Even a few cars had started to drive past the area.

Interrupting her while she prayed, Muhammad’s mother said to her daughter, “Your brother never misses out on an opportunity to get into trouble. At least you leave your mobile phone at home.”

The girl nodded assent and resumed her prayers in silence. Muhammad decided to rejoin them while darting a look of complicity at Naguib. “It’s not like we only use the phone to waste time slaughtering language via Facebook and Viber. It’s also a reliable source of information, which given the delicate nature of the situation, is something that it never hurts to have so that one can brace oneself for what the future holds.”

His mother opened her mouth to retort, but then Naguib nodded, settling the matter.

Right after leaving the house earlier that morning, Muhammad had told Naguib, “I just fed my sheep. They are yours in case anything happens to me. I trust you’ll know how to keep them out of harm’s way.”

Most of the shops on the road to the cement factory in the al-Hawary district had closed down. It was only very recently that a few of the many grocers who used to dot the street had dared to go back to business. But Naguib was positive that the area would, albeit slowly, steadily return to life. There were some cars parked in front of the al-Hawary Hospital, and an oil factory had just opened. However, most of the chicken farm employees—mainly Egyptians—who used to swarm the street were nowhere to be seen anymore. The shops around the Jazeera Dauran roundabout, where only black workers could be sighted now, had all closed down as well. The fields had been abandoned and many houses had been razed to the ground by missiles.

Muhammad’s mother asked her son, who had just been talking to someone on the phone, “Any news?”

He shook his head.

Naguib got into the car with the rest of the family, and they drove off to carry out the neighborhood patrol. A few moments later, they found an open shop. They stopped the car, went to the owner, greeted him, and told him, “So far everything looks calm. However, do not linger outdoors. Close early today. Just in case. Better safe than sorry.”

Then they jumped back into the car and drove off. As they arrived at the Jazeera Dauran roundabout, Muhammad’s sister suddenly screamed and asked them to stop the car. “I forgot my blood sugar meter!”

The prayers she uttered next were of a slightly different nature than the ones she had been sending up since she had left the house.

At the roundabout, a checkpoint had been set up and some masked men were searching the cars. The vehicles with families were rarely stopped for long. However, when their turn came, one of the men asked them to pull over to the side of the road. Naguib was asked to step out of the vehicle. Meanwhile, the family was asked whether Naguib belonged with them. Muhammad immediately answered, “Ain’t it obvious?”

Finally, they were allowed to drive through, and they returned to Naguib’s shop. They closed it for the day and started heading back home. The roads were empty and they could hear explosions in the distance. Then Muhammad and Naguib began quarreling. Naguib wanted to close the shop for good and leave the country, but Muhammad argued that it would be a dreadful mistake to relinquish their only source of income.

Desperate to find a way of making Muhammad understand the crux of the issue, Naguib said, “The Christian population is being massacred!”

Muhammad froze on the spot. Then he slapped his friend’s face. He looked at Naguib while trying to control the emotions that were churning inside him. Muhammad yelled in a voice breaking with anger, “You piece of shit! You are a fucking Christian!”

 

Written by Rehab Uthman Shanib.

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Choose your own adventure

He dropped the f-bomb

a) because he had been brought back to earth with a bang.

b) in order to blow up his reality.