Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Kaff

I was told a story once. It was about what happens to disgraced generals when they are arrested by the secret police. First they are dragged to the interrogation centre. There, they stand them up in a room, and the lowliest conscript walks up to him and tears off his lapels and insignia. They are thrown at his feet. Then the conscript raises his hand and with one fell swoop he slaps the officer on the face. I don't know how to express the slap in English with the same weight it is given in Arabic. To give somebody a kaff is, I think, a grave insult. It cuts to the core of you in a way that the lowly punch never could. Whether it hurts more or less is up for debate, but the kaff is the final crossing of the line. There is no going back from it. In Syrian drama, the climax of an altercation between a man and his wife is when he gives her the kaff. The music stops, the face is frozen in shock, and the man immediately regrets what he has done, because he knows his wife will never forgive him, and will never forget. There is never anything to say after the kaff.

Since the start of the Syrian uprising I've scene clip after clip of the Syrian policeman, soldier, or thug, slapping the prisoners. Maybe it's supposed to strike deep down at their masculinity and confidence. The Egyptians have a variation of it, it's when the same slap is given at the back of the neck. Each to their own I suppose. For the disgraced general, it's the first and only landmark he need take note of before being pushed into oblivion, into that place from which nobody emerges the same, if ever at all.

But the thug enjoys his power and he gets a kick out of it. He knows you can never be as barbarous as him, and he can't wait for you to slip into his hands. I don't care, he is all that he can ever be. My gripe is with the man, or men, who put him in a position of power over good people. I want to haul those men in their expensive suits out of their luxury imported cars and stand them before me. I want to look at them as they mentally rehearse their lies. Then, just when one of them opens his lips, I want to raise my arm with ever ounce of strength that I possess, mustering all the anger and defiance of every man, woman and child who has cried out because of this bastard, and bring a kaff down on his clean shaven face with all the force a weak, grieving and angry man can give. I want him to feel that sting and quiver with injustice, because then I will be sure that he knows what his victims have felt like. But that's never going to happen, is it?

No comments: