Saturday, June 13, 2020

For Iyad Hallak


Wael El Ghossien wrote a beautiful tribute to Iyad Halak. This is my translation. Wael is no stranger to autism, for his own beloved son is autistic.

Iyad was a victim of excessive police force, killed by the Israeli police in Jerusalem The timing of this tragedy, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis meant that Iyad’s death didn’t get much media attention.

 This tribute focuses on the gentleness of Iyad, what made him comfortable, what frightened him and what made him happy.

I don’t understand why they did this to me …
From my younger days I found myself to be different from other children,
not all the kids were like me,
I don’t know why.
Was always scared of stuff around me,
didn’t know why.
Couldn’t grasp stuff my own way
needed time to acclimate ... to get used to stuff.
Some stuff I got used to
other stuff I couldn’t,
I didn’t go to the school other kids went to,
was scared and fearful
of crowds,
of lots of people around me that I didn’t know.
I didn’t play football,
didn’t play other games kids played down the alleyway,
the kids were different ... not like me
or maybe I wasn’t like them.
I was scared to get hurt,
get a wound
am scared of wounds,
I fear blood
didn’t play.

Scared of the police and military with machine guns
not sure what the guns are,
if they can hurt
or not.
Was scared to walk alone
only felt safe when my mother or father were there
or others I know and feel safe with.
Once I got used to something, I was OK
I can continue.
Change … frightens me
I need time …
time to get used to stuff
not easy for me to get used to stuff.
Many things make me different
not like others
I act different.

How happy I was when they sent me to Center:
others were just like me,
scared like me.
People helping us learn
to get things others already know,
people who didn’t hurt us.
At first, was scared to go to Center on my own.
How happy I became when used to it,
relieved ... happy to go alone.

I take the trash bag and go to Center:
my routine
I see military with guns
I look at the soldiers ... and the people
and keep walking to the trash dump.
I throw the bag and go to Center
I get to the people that comfort me at the Center.

It’s been a month with no Center,
am on edge
not used to not going.
Mother took me two, three times last month ...
first time Center was closed
second time closed
third time closed again:
don’t know why closed.

Today mother told me: Center is open
I was happy … so very happy,
am going back to what I’ve been doing
for six years .. I got used to it.

I ate my mother’s breakfast
she helped me shave my beard
I took the trash bag
I left home
I was happy
walked happy ... but things looked different,
street was empty
not many people
but not important …
same street …
same way to Center ...
it will fill with people again.

I came close to the soldiers
they were yelling at me,
something very loud.
Didn’t understand them:
they wait for my answer
they think I can answer…
can’t talk like them
I can’t talk … at all.

They shouted,
I am scared,
why are they shouting
what did I do?
I am carrying the trash bag:
open it!
More shouting and yelling.
I run,
I run to the dump to put the trash bag
I throw the trash to go to the Center
that’s what I do: trash then Center.
Center ... the people I like
make me comfortable.

I fell on the floor at the dump,
what’s happening
who are these people?
Why are they mean to me?
What’s going on?
Let me throw my trash,
let me go to the Center,
to the people I know:
Let me go.

I hear the voice of my teacher telling them something,
am relieved to hear her voice,
she’ll explain,
she’ll tell them what I can’t say,
she will speak the words I don’t have
it will be solved
it will be over
it will be over…

I don’t know what happened,
I am in pain,
a lot of pain.
I don’t know what happened
and what’s happening.
Why did they do this me?
I don’t understand…

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