The year is 2066. I don’t know the exact date. It’s winter, though: that I can say for certain. I know I shouldn’t be writing on the back of a historical papyrus that has been kept zealously inside a monastery for centuries, but I can’t find anything else to write on and, since I don’t know how much time I have left to live, I figure I’d better not waste it in trying to come up with a better solution.
By the time we held our sixth biannual meeting, there was no denying that the end of times was upon us. Dense clouds had swallowed the sun and everything on the ground had frozen to death. Helios probably didn’t want to witness what was about to go down.
Since they cut out my tongue three years ago–as they did to each of the guardians of the monastery—I have been devoting all my time to praying. I pray every day all day long, much more often than the scriptures require of me. Not to be spared, lest I were to die and be brought to reckoning. It’s not that. The truth is, I just pray to one day regain the ability to voice my own opinion, which has become trapped inside of me. It is going stiff since I can no longer articulate it. I don’t pray inside the monastery, which has been refurbished to serve as a mosque. I pray by the sacred bush that God set on fire to grab Moses’ attention and thus pull him closer, to where he could talk to him. Here, I feel I stand a better chance of getting heard.
Outside these walls, Muslims, Christians and Jews hailing from all corners of the world are fighting each other. They weren’t in any sort of danger before arriving. No, their reasons for engaging in battle are very different. They claim to be fighting to please their gods, but are their gods truly any happier now that they have slaughtered thousands?
Soon, they will demolish these walls, raze the monastery to the ground and burn this bush down together with the surrounding scrubland. They will stop at nothing to make sure their gods get what they think they want. God forbid men stopped to listen to what the gods might actually want.
The fighting slams into the monastery doors, and suddenly, the roaring, screeching and chanting seems very far away. The only voice I hear, rising above the muted din, is that of the mint vendor who used to catch the same tram as me every morning, what seems an eternity ago now. He used to advertise his goods by mirthfully singing, “Some worship Musa as their prophet; some, Jesus; some, Muhammad, … If they were to ask me I’d say mint leaves should be held sacred, but, at the end of the day, different strokes for different folks, am I right?”
Now that I find myself about to shuffle off my mortal coil, all I want is to leave this world with the aftertaste of that vendor’s mint lingering in my mouth.
The Author, Nayera Hamed:
I am not what people call me, my age, my nationality, my gender or my profession. I am that other story. Those who are interested in learning about me, should read me. I am somewhere in there.