Anyone that has spent any amount of time reading this blog, reading my words, will know that my father's favorite past time was to reign terror on those he was meant to protect. I have forgotten the number of beatings I sustained at his hand, the number of times I was dragged from my bed at 2 a.m. to be beaten and then clean an already clean house. I have forgotten how many times I stood there quaking in my shoes as he walked down the hallway with the buckle on his belt jangling in anticipation of making contact with some part of my body yet again. I forget how many times he forced me to stand in the corner with my sodden underwear pulled down over my head because I had dared wet the bed yet again. I have forgotten how many times he drew blood from my body, created bruises to bloom prettily on my skin, or in someway damaged the flesh and bone that made up the person that was me. I have forgotten how many times my bedroom door opened in the night...
What I have not forgotten is how he made me feel.
The day my mother called me in Bahrain and told me he had died still echoes in my mind. The words speeding across the phoneline, across the planet and into my ear, words I had waited so fucking long to hear, words I whispered to myself as I laid awake at night tembling in my bed while listening closely for stealthy footsteps to come calling....words that were yearned for but never heard...words that I thought would make me rejoice in their anticipated glory.
I did not rejoice when I heard those words...I cried.
My Boogeyman was dead. Dead. DEAD!!! How could he be dead? Things like him did not die...they skulked away into the darkness to terrorize another day. Why do we have Friday the 13th part 52 if not for the fact that Jason can't be killed...cannot die. No matter the abuse to his body, the stabs and gun shots, the drowning and emmolation by fire...he merely stands up and brushes off the futile attempts at ending his henious life...and stalks away to find more prey.
For sure when I was young I prayed and begged for his death, or at least his absence from my life...but deep in my heart I did not truly believe he COULD die. Monsters dont die. My father could not be dead. If my father could die...well that only meant one thing....that I (me) could die as well. With my father's death I was faced with my own mortality and the tears sprang quickly to my eyes and fell with this new found revelation. If monsters could die....what chance did the rest of us have?
My mother had the audacity to believe I was shedding tears because, after all, he WAS my father. At the end of the day, paternal love won out and my tears fell for him...not despite him. Meanwhile years later she told me she did not shed one tear while she watched him die. (yes she was there at the time...another story). I despised the fact that she assumed she was stronger than me and that even in death his life meant nothing to her...but was supposed to have meant something to me?
No Mother, the tears fell because Death came calling. The Great Equalizer. I cried because in his death I saw mine. There was no room to rejoice at the passing of the Monster...and to this day I have not so much as smiled at the thought that he no longer walks this earth...because he stall walks the corridors of my mind. He still lives and breaths and terrorizes in the one place he cannot die...or that I am unable to kill him once and for all. The flesh and blood of my Boogeyman is dead but his words, actions, and terror live on for as long as my brain is a thinking living object of self abuse.
Did you hear that Bin Laden is dead? Yes. It's True. The Boogeyman to end all boogeymans has died an ignomous death after wreaking such havoc, such terror...after playing with the hearts and minds...and bodies of so many and leaving them shattered and broken...and afraid. I watched as the news unfolded and spread like wildfire through the Internet...like a snake twisting and slithering through the 140 character limit that is Twitter as people spread the news via their fingertips rather than shocked lips and wide eyes.
The Boogeyman is dead? Is it true? How can it be? The Boogeyman can't die. It must be a rumor, a lie...Bin Laden is legend, legends don't die....but wait...hold on...yes YES!! it is true. The President is speaking...people are smiling...clapping...rejoicing!!!
I watched and read as people rejoiced over the death of this man, this Boogeyman...and it saddened me and angered me so much I was surprised I took it so personally. Who was Bin Laden to me? I was not in New York when the towers came down....no person in my family was personally affected by that trajedy...but I was standing in the living room of a Bahraini family's home at the time as it unfolded on the large screen TV. The room grew quiet as we took in the sheer scale of the horror that was playing out like the latest Hollywood action film before our eyes. As tears started to fall and splash on my cheeks I heard a sound that seemed to not belong in that room...a sound that offended and assaulted my ears...and then my eyes as I turned to make sense of it. That family was cheering and clapping and whistling and grinning from ear to ear. Rejoicing at death!!! As those buildings burned and bodies plummeted I heard whoops and shouts of joy.
I could not make sense of it. Death is here. Death is walking among us. Death has come calling and you REJOICE!!! Death...the great equalizer. There is no rejoicing in death...even when it is your "enemy", your Boogeyman. Those Bahraini's rejoiced in the death of their fellow human beings...just as so many across the world rejoiced at the death of Bin Laden.
I didn't understand it then and I don't understand it now. Why the cause for celebration? If he can die, if the Great Boogeyman of our time can die after being little more than a rumor, a superb player of the Cat and Mouse game, a vex on the lives of global travelers who want nothing more than to get from point A to point B without having to disrobe or be felt up in the process....the "focus" of pointless wars and even more pointless deaths...so now he is dead. Great. What do we do now...once the cries of celebration are ended?
There is always room in this world for another such as he to spread terror..mayhem...destruction. Should we not stop the rejoicing and instead focus on what really matters. Why a man such as he was created in the first place...because even with this death...if we do not change the ways in which we run this planet...how we treat each other...how we force our ideals on each other rather than find room for tolerance...how we quickly rush to shed blood in the name of some Higher Good...rather than stop and listen to an opinion that is not like our own....and allow that person to have it and express it without feeling anger that he dares think and believe differently than me.
To rejoice in death but to remain intolerant in life is the very foundation of what men like Bin Laden sprang from. If he believed in his cause...if he believed in his mission...if he believed he was fighting a Jihad just as he claimed...then there is nobody who is rejoicing at the death of Bin Laden more than... Bin Laden himself....so to speak. He got what he wanted...what he worked for...what he killed for. Our intolerance will ensure that other men like him are created...and Boogeyfied...and "martyred " in exactly the same fashion....but the question is...how many more people will have to die before that point is reached? How many more Bin Ladens must we suffer through before we realize WE are the creators of our own Boogeymen?
As children we have no choice, no power, no where to turn when our Boogeymen place a hand on our bedroom door knobs and enter our lives...we must stand mute and powerless as our childhoods are stolen...ripped away while we yearn for a peaceful nights sleep. As children we do not create our own Boogeymen for they are quite happy to create themselves and terrorize without invitation. As adults the power to create men such as Bin Laden is the burden we share...each side of this global clash of cultures are people molding and shaping and giving life to the Boogeymen such as Bin Laden...and now that he is gone...the next one in line. We have that power...and oh how we love to use it.
Bin Laden is dead...so what...there are more like him...thanks to the human desire to focus on what makes us different than what makes us similar..so far...for many..death is our only commonality. What a shame.