Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pen and Paper (07/17/14)
- TITLE: Truth from a Boy's Pen
By Dannie Hawley
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“And, what does it say in the scrolls about rockets, Rabbi? Only the Iron Dome is mightier than them.”
Shlomo flinched just recalling his brother’s angry retort. Yuri had been a soldier for more than a year, serving the southern region where rocket attacks were common.
But, maybe Rabbi Laban was right. Staring at his unique little pen, the young boy made his decision. He began to write.
My name is Shlomo or Suleman in your language, and I’m ten years old.
My Hebrew teacher told us that English is the international language, so I thought you might be learning it, too.
My sister says that love is the universal language, but I’m not sure about that because she giggles when she says it. Does that mean she’s making a joke, or don’t you have any sisters?
Anyway, my big brother is nineteen, so he’s one of the Israeli soldiers. He tells me about your underground tunnels and all the rockets your brothers are shooting. No one has been hurt there so far, but I heard that a boy was wounded in a neighborhood across town from me this afternoon.
Yuri said that thousands of rockets come from Gaza every week. It costs Israel $100,000 for the Iron Dome to intercept just one of the rockets before it hits anything. How much does it cost to stop ours?
I live in Ashkelon. When a rocket is headed our way, a siren blasts, and we have fifteen seconds to find the nearest bunker.
Thursday, a blast came during part of every class. Finally, we just went home.
My mother had to run errands for her office in town. Boy, she was ticked when she came home. There had been ten rockets fired on just our city that day, and she had a hard time getting to some of the bunkers.
I thought that maybe my sister and the rabbi were right. I want to be your friend. Please tell me what life is like for you in Gaza if you get this letter.
Your friend (I hope),
The young boy rolled the paper tightly around his favorite pen. He liked the way he could slip the ultra-thin, squat pen into the seam of his pocket, undetected by the rabbi who greeted them at the door of the synagogue. He’d miss playing games during the preaching, but Shlomo didn’t know if the other boy had a pen to answer his letter.
“Shlo-o-omo! It’s time,” bellowed Papa from the bottom of the stairway.
Quickly, before Shlomo could change his mind, the secret missive was shoved into a pocket of his brother’s uniform. Sprinting through their bedroom door, Shlomo bolted for the stairs, sliding to a stop just as Papa lit the Shabbat candle. Mama prepared a special meal this week because Yuri’s unit would be going to fight in Gaza the next day.
Two days later in Gaza…
“Here, Mohamed, take the rags of this infidel and tear it for your mother to use to clean the floors.”
Mohamed took the proffered garment from his older brother and began ripping the military-green uniform. Strip by strip, the stack of cloth fell at the teenager’s feet.
As fifteen-year-old Mohamed yanked off the pocket on the side of the trousers, something rolled out onto the cement floor. He stopped working and began to unwrap the small bit of paper.
The adolescent had learned only the rudimentary basics of English before he and his mother left London years earlier to join his father, but he understood the message. Turning it over, Mohamed began to scribble.
I am not your friend, Suleman. I can’t be; don’t you get it? Your Yahweh made our Father Abraham give Ishmael’s birthright to Isaac, even though he was born second. We can never accept you. Allah is not your Yahweh, though it serves our purpose for the western infidels to believe he is.
Yes, I have sisters. They are dancing today.
Rewinding the paper around the tiny pen, Mohamed pushed it deep into his shirt pocket.
“Mohamed! Come! We’re waiting for our hero.”
Dropping the uniform, Mohamed took another swallow of the syrup, and stood. He joined the celebration, where the heavy, explosive-filled vest would be strapped to his chest.
Author’s Note: Shlomo’s story is fiction, but the other details of this piece are facts taken from BBC interviews and news broadcasts this month, July 2014.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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