We cannot help speaking of his mad plan for Deraa.
He is a madman--he was always a madman; I know this, for he does not fear
where other men fear and he does not stop where other men stop. He speaks
like a martyr, but I think he will not die.
"Kiss me--I am an immortal," he proclaims, and I kiss his cheeks as much
because he tries to amuse me as because he really believes himself an
There is no man who lives forever. Even Mohammed died, and if the prophet
was not immortal, this man who wears the clothes I gave him cannot be.
In this room full of smoke and the smell of brewing tea and rancid meat and
fur, we shiver under rugs and robes and quote the Quran to each other to
fill ourselves with passion for the idea--the mad idea!--of Deraa.
"'Man can have nothing but what he strives for,'" says the man whom we call
Aurans, with the cold in his blue eyes and his pale skin, and I know that
if he stood in the sun for a hundred years, if he spoke nothing but Arabic
until his accent vanished, if he lived as Bedu for a thousand, thousand
years . . . he would still never be an Arab. The blind Turks who are our
enemies may be fooled--for all things are possible--but Aurans will never
I fool myself to say so often that he means to be my kind and so he is my
kind. He is not, and he will not be, because he wants it and for all the
words of immortality and victory, Aurans knows in his heart that he can
have nothing that he wants. He is a fool.
"'God is with those who patiently persevere,'" I tell him, and he laughs--
why be patient, he asks? Victory is in our hands!
He looks through the many clothes that are piled on the floor before him,
casting aside this robe or that kaffiyeh and shaping his disguise.
Readying himself to pretend to be ordinary--can he do that? Can he keep
his blue eyes on the ground and his fire hidden away and his manner common?
"'Allah loveth not aggressors.'"
He is a man on fire, and he burns me as well, and I think sometimes that it
would not be so painful to burn to ash in his passion. He speaks of the
Turkish city as though it will be a walk in the gardens, and I want to
laugh at his foolishness and I want to believe him at the same time.
I love him.
He has not said how they stamped his fire out, and yet he still bleeds. He
will not let me tend the wounds on his back--he says that he needs to be
reminded of the pain, and this is not madness but feeble-mindedness. But I
will not tell him so.
I will not do anything but take him back and force him to remember that he
is a man--that he is alive, that he has a body! Does he not bleed? All of
his back, stained brown and red with blood!
I will kill the Turks. I will kill them, and they will know that I was
merciful, for I did not beat them! I did not . . ..
He will not tell me, but I can guess.
He will not drink. He will not eat. He will not even sleep, but he stares
into the fire as if he knows that his has gone.
I can do nothing. Nothing! And so I must be gentle, I must be quiet, I
must be firm and I must make him sleep, and eat, and drink.
He was immortal when we left, the martyr who did not die--he was our
immortal, and I laughed at him for it. I laughed at Aurans because he was
arrogant and because he wanted me to laugh even though he meant it.
Today he is a dead man.
He is a dead man who watches the fire and knows in his heart again that he
can never have what he truly wants.
It is too early to know if there is no ember that still burns under the
ash; it is too early to know if I cannot build his fire and make him
passionate again and shout at him because he is a mad fool. I want that so
much right now--to shout at him and to hear him shout back with
indignation. I want to give back what the profane Turks took from him and
I want to kill them for taking it!
But it is too early.
It is too early, or perhaps it is already too late.