By Rabia Golden
When the 17th February revolution first began, I was living in the United Kingdom with my ex-husband and kids, they were mostly grown, some married and some preparing for getting married.
My eldest boy lived in my hometown Dublin, he was working as a builder and we spoke regularly, just like any family I suppose.
We would speak regularly about the horrors occurring in Libya and as time went by, the desperation in his voice stirred me, I just knew he was hurting, deeply and totally.
Another member of the family was already part of the revolution and my youngest boy, then 18yrs old and physically disabled, luckily not as bed as now, insisted on leaving with a small group to join the fight.
He left and my heart was in my mouth, I spoke to the commander of the troop he was heading to in the mountains in Libya and he assured me he would make sure he would train initially, rather than jump in the deep end. It eased my mind a little, but even a fully able bodied man was under a dangerous aura there.
I sat and raised my hand to Allah and asked him to protect him and guide him, and if it was His will, return him to me.
Next thing I knew, I was asked to travel to Tunisia, partly to visit the injured, some of whom I looked at like my own sons, desperate times, fearful times, but very humbling times, when my eldest boy said, “mam, I’m coming to help you on the trip.” I knew, I just knew.
We met and travelled, meeting up with those we arranged to bringing over some simple things like binoculars, night vision and lots and lots of chocolate, great for morale of the troops.
After a day or two, it was time to return, my son carried my case to the hotel door, I looked at him and without a word between us, I simply said, “Son, I know you’re not coming home with me, I give you my blessing, my love and my prayers, I have nothing else to give”.
Tears were streaming down both our faces and as I caught his face in my hands, suddenly he was my little boy, my pride and my joy. I kissed his cheeks as I tasted his salty tears.
All he said was, “I love you mam, I hope I will make you proud, may Allah accept my tiny offering”.
We hugged for what seemed forever, then my daughter pulled me away and off we went, leaving him in the hands of good men, real men, all I consider my own sons.
The Thawra (revolution) cracked on and the horror escalated, every time the house phone would ring, my heart would sink into my toes. Someone, anyone answer it, not me, I was just filled with the terror of bad news.
Watching the torture, murder and blatant war crimes unfold, I once more raised my hands as I did daily, but this day I asked my Lord, “Ya Rubb, I accept all you place before me, I will never lose my faith or love for You, but I ask You, if it be Your will, please, let them die for your sake, but please Ya Rubb, don’t allow them to be captured or tortured,” as a mother, I would die if one of them were captured and being tortured as I sat in a nice warm house, away from the hell they were in.”
I got news from the Commander of the Brigade that my youngest boy’s special leg fittings he needed to walk, had fallen apart from all of his training and he was sending him back for medical attention and to replace his leg splints in UK. I was so delighted, although knowing my son, he was gutted.
We all arrived at the airport, flags flying, hearts flying just as high as he walked through the doors, in his uniform, having lost at least 20kg, but looking and feeling like a man. I did the traditional ‘zaghreet’, the airport stood still as his sisters and I ran, almost knocking him down.
The commander contacted me and said, Ya Hajja, I know he will fight you to come back, but please, we are heading through really rough terrain and he is physically incapable to run and scramble to protect himself from snipers, please keep him there and ask him to do his fight by broadcasting the horrors and speaking out about the war.
So, one safe and one in the very center of the front line, no training, just straight in, head down and fulfilling his vow. I have never felt such pride and such terror and fear.
I submitted myself to the Creator and just prayed, what else could one do.
Everything was coming to a head, Tripoli was about to be taken and I knew he was at the very head of it, the first striking force into the city.
The whole family sat in the living room, some biting their nails, some holding their heads in their hands and others openly crying as the end became apparent.
We all fell asleep on the mindars (traditional seating mattresses) in the room when the phone rang. We all jumped up in unison, looking at each other in panic.
They handed me the phone, it was him!!!, barely capable of speaking, he just said “Allahu Akbar!!, (God is great) I love you, we did it mam, we did it, I can’t believe it, we actually did it.”
We all screamed with joy and hugging each other, we only hoped that he would stay safe and alive until he came home to us, which, by the will of God, he did.
Lest we forget the mothers and loved ones of the martyrs, lest we forget the sacrifice of the beautiful lives, the shining souls of the Rejeel (real men), may their beautiful, glowing souls flow gently to their place in paradise, lest we forget, ever.
17 February, 2021 success or failure
Flags waving, faces beaming, children raised on shoulders, shouts of “Allahu Akbar!!!!!”, dancing, hugging; the hugs crammed with unadulterated love, without really understanding how could it feel so deep, so pure. Hurrah for the winners!
Everyone full of pride, hearts bursting with it, old comrades meeting, grabbing each other, like their own true blood brothers, perhaps even stronger ties of one kind or another. Hurrah for the winners!
Speaking to a high-ranking member of Kateeb ATawar Trabulus, tears streaming down his face as he reminisced on how, just last year he had held to the pact, the one he swore to hold to with his close buddies, those who ran, fell, stood up again with the help of their comrades, shaking, sometimes bleeding, but always dusty strong hands.
Hearts thumping with adrenalin, terror, and often desperation to survive. That pact to meet at the steps of the stage, the one at the Martyr’s Square, the one and only Maydan Ashu’hada, the very name raises goosebumps to those who know its raw reality. Hurrah for the winners!
As he stood, greeting them one by one, awaiting ‘flan, wa flan’ (this guy and that). Just as they did every year since the Thawra, awaited the previous years harvest of fine men, the real Thawar, the real deal. Then slowly, painfully with heart-rendering sorrow, the penny began to drop.
One would ask, where’s Abdu? As another answered, “didn’t you hear, he fell at such and such a place, defending Tripoli against Haftar, the heartless warlord”, “and Ali, Khaled, Mahdi???” And so on. Hurrah for the winners!
Joy and laughter turning to tears of brave men, each tear weighing a ton, these guys are not easily stirred, yet, the thought of these beautiful souls, who survived the horror of the fight against Gadaffi, now lost to a hypocrite, claiming victory, victory over what? Victory over mass graves? Over torture? Over what exactly???? Hurrah for the winners!
Although we know and firmly believe, without doubt their place is Ferdous, the pain and emptiness feel as though a little of each man standing themselves is buried with their comrades, each one captured in a scenario in their minds, branded there forever.
Although standing in their now diminished group, talking and catching up, their hearts are carried away on the waves of rage, embracing the reality of the loss, yet each wanting their piece of the warlord, or the Russian animals, now grazing on Libyan soil, filthy, useless excuses of men who boobytrap innocent people’s homes, killing and injuring indiscriminately, anyone, man, woman or child as they ran like cowards from the real men, the ones who gave their lives to protect the dignity and honour of their womenfolk and homes. Hurrah for the winners!
You, you call yourself a representative of Libya, you who brought every kind of filth to Libyan lands to fight your dirty losing war, you coward, knowing you had nothing left other than the filthy money of filthy corrupt so-called leaders, may Allah destroy them, you know your name, history will know you as a war criminal and murderer. Hurrah for the winners!
The mothers of the martyrs will curse you forever, but the women of Libya will grow a new army against you, you have nowhere to hide, you will find yourself standing ashamed of even your own name, Hater, Animal, Failure,
Tyrant, Abhorrent and Ruthless. Each description an integral part of your very name, yes, you know who you are. Hurrah for the winners!
Even if next year, at the celebration of 17 February, there stands only one from those soldiers of Allah, a new group will form, a new brotherhood, a new beginning, but for you, there is no place for you, you will die a sad, lonely, disgraced, ousted, cursed by Allah excuse of a human being.
And our brothers, sons and grandsons will dance on your grave, and hearts will rise in harmony of joy at your passing. Hurrah for the winners!
Our beautiful sons, our beloved brothers, sleep peacefully, your place is paved with success to Ferdous, your mothers and family will find peace in their pride of your sacrifice, you the sons of the Bride of the Sea, rest well, you are the lucky ones, if only we all knew.
Hurrah indeed for the winners.