// INCOMING/SUPPRESSED: the commander of ****’s Battalion ******** Militia, announced that scores of fighters have returned to *****, Western ****, from ****** to join the fight against the **** terrorists.“180 **** ****** are now back in **** to help the popular forces in their fight against the **** and defend the city of ****,” **-**** Press news website quoted the commander as saying on Tuesday. He underlined that most of the fighters of the Battalion are also present in some regions of ******** and ***** provinces. The ******* are planning for a major battle against the **** in *****. The **** has links with ***** intelligence and is believed to be indirectly supported by the ****** regime. // ENDS
With one small bag and no note he became the next of the disappeared. He was seventeen. They searched for him on maps but the maps were empty and sand covered them. They searched for him across websites but found only redacted rhetoric. He was gone. And he was gone before he was gone. The government said they were liaising with other governments to see if anything could be done. The police said they had monitored him, but he was untraceable. His school said it was a tragedy. His parents said he was a perfect son. He had said nothing.
Dreaming of Cairo, so I thought, and I was on some concrete balcony at the edge of the desert, with the city in the distance, illuminated by explosions – and the death-rattle of guns and screaming missiles echoed across the void between me and… them.
I peered harder and saw that the explosions were fireworks, lighting up the sky with their crackle and kaleidoscope wonder. And the city was maybe Romford, somewhere not quite London.
I woke up. It was still night. Deeply so. A blackbird was singing. It sounded so frail and confused, so beautiful, and so full of dread.
The off-stage scream terrorises.
We are caught off-guard. On-stage actions cease.
Whose scream is it? Why has it occurred? What will the consequences be? What awful truth awaits us?
What does it mean?
It means things occur elsewhere.
It means we have been diverted.
It means we have been looking in the wrong place.
It means we are unready.
It means there are things we do not understand.
The writer or director has held back information. Or lied.
For a few moments we are convulsed with the realisation and horror of our own not-knowing.
The beheading was not filmed.
The grey months are back. The river is a monochrome line through a commuter town. Shrieking magpies hop across the railway sleepers; five for silver. Wheel rims slash the gutter puddles of a wet street. City towers wear loose shrouds and leak osmotically into the concrete sky. Coats are zipped, umbrellas black dots streaming past the tarmac and taxis. Fallen leaves darken and roadside sludge deepens. A thin Biro line traces the schedules towards the end of a year. Daylight fades earlier and the dawn unfixes itself from waking hours. I see my eyelids’ insides. The cloud billows over Kobani.
Out he went again, tearing down the road with his mother shouting for him to stop and stay. He ran to the wooden bridge over the stream, gathering pebbles and gravel along the way and filling his pockets with them. Leaning over the wooden handrail, he gazed into the water, which was made murky by recent floods. Then he dropped the stones in, one by one, hearing them plop as they hit the surface, watching the splash, and seeing them disappear in the blink of an eye, never once asking himself why he had ever begun to play this game.
There were words that disappeared. I contemplated whether it was better to forget them in any case, at this moment. In place of words, handshakes were greeted with smiles, flags were waved joyously. A scoreless draw of an association football game, with fans in fiesta mood, did not reflect the volatility of the nation states involved. There was no mention of boko haram, Isis, Shi’a or Sunni as Hajsafi, Hosseini, Moses and Musa ran lengths of the shining Arena da Baixada, in the Água Verde neighbourhood of the plateau city of Curitiba, Brazil, near where the Araucaria forests are dying.