All They Needed

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Stereotyping and judging people on how they look is a real problem in the western world. But in war-torn countries like Afghanistan, it can be a matter of life or death. 'All They Needed' tells an all to familiar story to many middle eastern men and women who, in the eyes of the world, are all wrongly seen as evil.

Submitted: December 13, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 13, 2011




      What first hit me as I passed the entrance was the smell; the pure stench of dirt, sweat, and desperation. It was the odour of the worthless.      

      I had been standing behind my stall watching the riot before me escalating by the minute.

More and more followers of the ??lib?n raising their voices and Qur’an towards the government building.

American soldiers attempting to hold the mob at bay, trying to win a war that was not their fight.

Wondering why I was in this place.

Wondering why I had come here.

I had wondered if it was too late to leave.

My mind had been attempting to block out the cries for justice and religion, for the government to give up any semblance of power to the ??lib?n. Sweat breaking out over me as the crowd surged and inched closer to me. A man came out of the group and raced to my stall, yelling to be overheard, to tell me what he wanted. Money received, product given. Looking at my hands to see he had overpaid. Looking up to find no traces of the man, only the curious eyes of a soldier. The riot behind him had escalated to stone and brick throwing. I had fled.      

From what I could gather, as I was forced into the overwhelming smell, it was the middle of the night. With on      ly a flashlight guiding my guard I stumbled over unseen cracks and debris, each trip costing me a slap and yell to move on. I could not tell where I was, only that we were inside; the roof felt burdening on my already heavy soul. The air was still and the only sound was that of our feet on hard ground and a persistent moan somewhere far off. I looked around to see eyes whose faces were shrouded in darkness, peeking through metal bars. Eyes filled with fear, pain and desperation, some even gone mad, though the most fearful of them all were those who showed defeat. These eyes were devoid of hope, of anything, they stared blankly back, two marbles with n o colour nor shine.

It had been the next night. My brother, my grandmother and I kneeling for the ?al?h l Is ha’a. Our family Qur’an sitting open before us; the words of god witnessing our prayers to the almighty. I prayed for happiness, for a better tomorrow, for peace and love and for my parents’ wellbeing in heaven. Suddenly, the door imploding with smoke following it. Boots stamping, my grandmother screaming, hands, multitudes of hands grabbing at me and dragging me outside. Hauled into a van as though I were a dead animal, abruptly taken from my prayers, driven away



I was led into a room: it was completely bare, no windows nor furniture, not even any li ghting. I was shoved inside and before I stood up, the door behind me shut and locked. Darkness fell, but my eyes did not adjust to show the r oom; eyes do not adjust to a place of Nothing.

A desk, two chairs, a single light and a man sitting across from me, staring. Meet ing his eyes caused a shudder; he was not human. He said clearly and simply,

“Admit to what you’ve done, Arab.” Clearly printed on the folder before him, my name was ignored.

“All you Arabs are the same, denying what you’ve done, claiming innocence on your almighty god’s goodwill. Well your joker up there aint gonna’ help you now, and we both know what you’ve done so why not just admit to your crimes. Get it all over with, before, we do too much harm,”

As he leered at me, I had only wished for the comfort of my ?ij?b, which these barbarians had ripped from me. A sudden surge of passion and injustice swelled in me and I pounced at the man, screaming for merciful All?h to seek retribution for the wrongs this man had done to me. Guards raced in, pulling at me, dragging me back from my tormentor, chained to my chair they once again left. His stride was casual as he walked to me, one slap across my face and he was once again at his chair.

“That behaviour will not be tolerated. We have ways of dealing with the likes of you, we will show no mercy even if you are a woman.” He leaned towards me, “in this building you are nothing, just as you should be elsewher e.”

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Where am I? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.  Why  am I here? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. What did I do? Nothing.

Another interrogation session, each different from the last. Gone was the man w ho had negotiated my return to Qandah?rthe day before, this man was mad. Yelling from the top of his lungs, screaming profanities. Denouncing my god, my faith and my family. Accusing me of sabotage, of conspiracy and of attempts of terrorism. Documents shoved under my nose proving my guilt, a picture taken on the day of the riot showing me exchanging information for money.

“You Arabic scum! Stop lying to me you harlot, you liar! I know what you did! Admit it, admit what you truly are!” What had I done? All his accusations were lies. He was the liar! No, my only crime was having been born an Arab.

And in this mans eyes,

that was enough. 

Hands grabbed me from out of nowhere; this did not shock me. I was pushed and  pulled down a corridor, every so often I felt hands brushing me and moans for help, the guard yellin g for order.

The interrogation chair, ripped from underneath me, had been smashed  over my head. Lying on the floor he had pressed his face to mine and whispered,

“You think you’re so tough you can withstand me. Well you’re going to be sent to a place, a place which’ll make here seem like a walk in the park. You watch girl, you just watch, you’ll be begging to come back to me,” He stepped back and silence fell, as if on cue soldiers stormed in and dragged me away. I had glimpsed back to the room to see the man looking after me, l aughing.

Now, thrown into a cell between an old woman who sat in the corner mumbling to herself and an other who stared into her impossible future, I wondered, what was this place? As light crept into the building, realization dawned on me. Rows upon rows, upon rows of cages, stacked systematically in a large shed. I saw people, women, in all states of despair calling out as the sun shone  on our prison.

Stepping through a door I had been hit with the heat of the midday sun. My heart lurched  to see the sky again, oh what a beautiful sky, oh what precious air. My joy, short lived as I was thrust into the ominous belly of a plane, a bundle following me in, the edge of a hard object glancing my head. Slowly unwrapping the thin blanket to see inside my beloved Qur’an, no, not my Qur’an but just as valuable nonetheless. I had looked around at the cavernou s space I was in, ten times the size of my house and felt minute in comparison.

I felt slightly more at ease as I looked around at my closet-sized cell; in it, only a thre adb are mattress and a metal bucket.  I crawled towards the bed and cradled my Qur’an, clutching it to my chest, willing the words  of god to transport me from this horrid place.

On the plane I had sat and prayed. Prayed that I was being taken home, to heaven, to any better place than where I had been. I had searched the Qur’an for a verse to comfort me, but the image of the laughing man had haunted me.

I stared at the book for what seemed like eternity, slowly I turned the page looking forward to the comforting words I had read since childhood.

My mind had begun to wander. What tortures the man had spoken of could be worse? What was in store for me? Where was I going?

I took a deep breath and looked, and there stamped in bold were words that turned me to ice.


Property of Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre.


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