Fathi is on the couch, watching the news with his wife and three children. A live broadcast of victims from a car bombing. Body parts scattered everywhere. The wounded wailing within a din of police and ambulance sirens.
Anguished, Fathi sighs, saddened at what the country has become. His wife’s eyes are wet, and the children watch the screen, stunned into silence. Then, the impossible: the screen explodes as another booby-trapped car explodes in the same place as the first. Pieces of burning shrapnel fly out from the screen, killing one of Fathi’s children on the spot. Everyone else is wounded in different ways. Similar things happen all over the country, to everyone watching the news at that moment. A national disaster unlike any disaster.
Families all over the country immediately get rid of all the news channels on their televisions, limiting themselves to movies, soap operas, songs, and candid camera shows. Little by little, people forget politics and its tragedies. The country rises up on a tide of extreme happiness and everyone lives in bliss forever.
Scenes from the 99th world
Wandering through the streets of the city, I see the tongues of the people tied together in Freedom Square. They are like huge bouquets of poppies hung as decorations.
I hear the sighs of the crushed and shattered people feeding the whistling wind in a country ravaged by war upon war.
I see glittering streams of young lives pouring into a dead sea.
I see idleness wearing thousands of masks in an endless masquerade…
I read the faces of people…in private cars and public transportation…in neighborhoods and alleys…ragged tomes from which the ink runs out, telling the history of human subjugation.
And so I resume my wandering, whistling as I go.
A People’s Revolution looks at the tsunami’s destruction of a coastal city. Observing the thousands of victims, the dead, the wounded, and the homeless, and feeling deep pain, the Revolution addresses itself to Nature, saying, “I am a Revolution against oppression and tyranny. What about you? How do you justify yourself? What’s your excuse for your actions?”
Smiling, Nature answers: “I am a revolution, too, a revolution against the oppression and tyranny of humans toward me, against their greed, arrogance, and selfishness. They are powerless to stand up against me, or stop my defiant protest—unlike what happens to you. Because to mistreat me is to mistreat life itself. And life can never be defeated.” Sighing with joy, she continues, “I am so pleased to always succeed in avenging my dignity and reclaiming my stolen rights.”
The People’s Revolution, bitter and envious, says nothing.
The four seasons conspired against a certain country and refrained from visiting for a number of years until, finally, its land became a desert. Some neighboring states felt sympathy for the country. Hesitating, at first, because they feared retaliation, they eventually stopped welcoming the four seasons. An epidemic of sympathy spread, slowly, until all the countries of Earth formed one united front against the might and arrogance of the seasons.
At first, the seasons were overcome by anger and decided to avenge their wounded pride. But weakness gradually crept into their limbs and soon they couldn’t even find a place to land. They wandered homeless in the atmosphere for some time until, in the end, they fell dead, starved for the earth.
Osama Alomar is the author of Fullblood Arabian in English, and three short story collections and a volume of poetry in Arabic. Alomar’s first full-length collection of stories, The Teeth of the Comb, was published by New Directions in 2017. His short stories have been published in The New Yorker, Noon, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. Alomar is currently working on a novel about the Syrian War, and another project called The Book of Meditations. He's a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum Pittsburgh, which provides sanctuary to endangered writers.