This article posted by Daniela Norris on Sunday 28th February 2010

Hands

‘Hands’ won second prize in the adult prose section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2009.


So you are convinced you’re right. And it sustains you through nights with little sleep, when the dawn breaks on you like pale yolk pouring out of an egg and the air smells like nothing else you will ever smell again; a fusion of sweat and sulphur and delicious thin bread.

But of course you are right. And you are doing what you have to do. You walk the narrow alleys of the kasba in Hebron, sweat making your helmet stick to your forehead like Original Sin and the footsteps of those walking in front of you echo on the ancient stones in the crisp early morning. Advancing slowly, click-clack, click-clack. Faces dark, eyes narrowed in concentration, taking deep breaths, in, out, in, out.

It is damn heavy, this Galil, but you cling to it as if it’s a lifeline, and good thing, too, because it is the only thing that can save your arse around here. So what am I doing here, in the kasba at four in the morning on a Sunday, you ask yourself, and you know that other kids your age, in other parts of the world, are driving back from a party or downing another round of drinks in some beach bar. But you are here, because this is your destiny and you were born on this cursed piece of land and you were sent to defend your people, your people who have suffered so much and all the rest of that well-justified crap.

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