Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Me, Nasrallah, and the IDF.

Hassan Nasrallah had just finished giving his speech. So much guff about defying Israel, but everyone was in thrall to the guff. The speech crescendoed, and then tapered off at the end, the fire in his rhetoric doused. It's difficult to keep that kind of fire burning for long, nature happens, and bodies burn themselves out.

As soon as he walked out of the door, I a had funny feeling in my stomach. There was no doubt that the IDF would attack the building. Hezbollah's terrorist-in-chief had just been there. They would have tried to get him while he was there, or they would attack after he had left, hoping his hot air was still rising in the building.

The flat was modest, and I remember very few details about the building. The inside was gutted. No pillars, no structures of balance, just a hollow shell. It was obviously designed with demagoguery in mind. Every man must see Nasrallah, without pillars blocking the listener's line of sight to the man defying the IDF. Did they build the flat with Nasrallah in mind? How did they know he would one day speak there, and that everyone must see him?

There are annoying pillars at some lower league football stadiums, and people buy their tickets based on which side of the pillar will give them the littlest amount of obstruction. You can miss some detail in lower league football, but not where the demagogues are concerned. Everyone sitting in the room must see every detail clearly. The raising of the fist. The jabbing of the finger. The two-hand gestures. Every slight movement counted and registered in the listener's mind. I was there the day Nasrallah spoke at the flat, they would say. Then they would pause briefly, and ask themselves if, strictly speaking, it actually was a flat. Then they'd carry on with their fireplace story. It was one hot afternoon.

I saw the IDF drone from the balcony, one of many I'd seen over the past few days. This was a funny looking drone. It looked like a prop from a 1960s spy film. A miniature streamlined zepellin with an antenna jutting out from the top. And another thin piercing rod attached to the front. In a more benign world, you would find such a thing at the Gadget Shop. A novelty radio with short-wave, receiving stations from the other side of the world.

"Good morning Antartica! You're listening to the coolest station on the planet. Literally. Due a freak heating malfunction, our legwarmers are frozen on the outside, but toasty warm on the inside. It's like wearing freshly laundered clothes, except that they're not. The weather today is much the same as yesterday, and the day before. Come to think of it, the weather hasn't changed for years. It will be somewhere between minus 90 degrees and minus 60 degrees. Dress for minus 90. To wake you up, we start the day with one of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies: No. 15 in A minor - Rakoczy March."

Which is the point where you realise how novel indeed the radio is. The drone soon disappeared into the clouds. It was difficult not to be paraoid. I kept looking out of the balcony, not sure what I was hoping to see. And so it happened. It didn't happen as I thought it would. Missiles are fast moving angels of death. They project at speeds only imaginable on physics lessons videos. This missile was moving in slow motion. The front was painted with concentric red circles, like an archery target. But the missile wasn't the target, our building was the target. Sheikh Hassan had brought us to our ends.

As the missile made a curve in its trajectory, calculating the satelite coordinates, I looked on. Slowly it appeared to be towards our building, but this was no slow mssile. I was standing on the balcony of the top floor. Based on quick calculations, I judged that the missile would hit the roof just above my head, and fall somewhere in the middle of the flat. It would score. So as it approached the building, just before it hit the roof above my head, I leapt like a goalkeeper. Suspended in the air for what felt like an age, I stuck my palm out and tipped the missile over the roof. I could feel Lev Yashin looking down on me with glee.

It landed at the back of the building. But didn't explode. immediately And then it did. By then, me and the other people in the building were crouching defensively waiting for the explosion. And when it came, I woke up.

4 am this morning... I think I survived...

5 comments:

Akin said...

Nkem,

Seriously, you cannot be out there?
The whole thing is too scary for me to find words.

This, in a week that I have decided to grace London with my presence; that city itself is not as safe as it once was.

Be very careful if you are playing war correspondent; football and its hooligans we can handle - following in the footsteps of Kate Adie is a bit daunting.

I suppose there is a part that makes Adie sound like Ad├Če (Chicken in Yoruba) and she was no chicken; but you look like you can take care of yourself, back-flips, jumping and all.

Be safe!

Anonymous said...

It was just a dream, right?

Anonymous said...

It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up magazine
Salt'n'Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine
Hangin pictures on my wall
Every Saturday, "Rap Attack," Mr. Magic, Marley Marl

Remi said...

What a dream!

Chxta said...

Dis drim na wa o...