Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 14th, 2011

Happiness was premature: Cool dog Misha did it again

I published a couple of days ago how cool dog Misha was rescued from eating poisoned food.

We had breathed a heavy sight of relieve as Misha vomited the poisonous ingredients.  Misha didn’t like the “vegetable” coal that William made him swallow through a syringe:  He started to walk, seeking a silent place, away from the vigilant crowd.

Misha was fine for the last two days and then he decided to pay visits to houses.

Cool and friendly Misha was like: “Hello, sorry for not visiting the last couple of days.  I was not feeling well”  Unperturbed, mankind offered Misha a second portion of poisoned food.  This time around, Misha didn’t last long enough for William cures to have any effect.

Smart Misha felt that she was poisoned again.  Shivering and barely able to stand, she managed to climb 4  floors so that William may take care of her ailment.  As Hanane recounted: “I remember how poor Michat was suffering after climbing the four floors. Misha did everything to intrigue us William and I.  Things that she’s not allowed to do and that she would never do.  As if she was telling us “please help me I have no idea what is happening to me. Misha was so scared”.

William administered the vomiting inducing medicine, but Misha was too weak to even empty her stomach.  The vegetable coal were already crushed, but Misha had died.

William wrapped Misha with a rope and let the corpse down four floor.  Cousin Murielle had the fright of her life as she witnessed Misha being descended on a rope.

Misha was barely 6 years of dog-age.  Misha accompanied us on our trekking trips and made sure to be going back and forth, checking on our safety.

I was working in the garden around 4 pm, after it rained all day long.  Mother hollered to me from the yard saying: “Come down”  I said: “Tell me what do you want”.  She said: “Misha is dead. Come pay your respect.  She is in the garden

I thought that the poison got Misha after all, but William told me that Misha was poisoned again!

William, Victor, and I dug a large hole in the garden and buried Misha.

Victor asked Chelsea and her best friend Marybelle, who was spending the day, to cut a few roses and throw them on the burying ground.  We had buried another dog in the garden, but Misha was very special: The gentlest, most clever, meekest dog, and friendly with everyone.

It was hard work digging the three of us, but it was harder accepting man cruelty.

We miss lovable and clever Misha.

Discussions among insurgents: Rainbow over the Levant

Note: This is a section of a historical fiction novel (1371-75)

A tiny educated nucleus wanted to emulate the Greek form of democracy where the people elect their leaders for the executive and for the members of the legislative House, though they had not the slightest idea of how to proceed and implement these Utopian tendencies.  Gergis alone was deeply involved in writing down a rudimentary form of a Constitution.  The guidelines represented a set of laws that should govern the citizens, but he failed to communicate his endeavor because his work was in the tentative stages and he lacked the necessary information of the Roman codes of law and how they governed their vast multiracial Empire. Besides, Gergis he knew of no one to translate Latin manuscript for him.  In any event, he was not sure any member was educated enough to contribute in his research and rationally discuss his thoughts.

The sources of these confusions on an important matter as “how to be governed” was not solely attributable to a widespread illiteracy and ignorance on how they were actually governed, but also because leader Antoun did not yet expand his purposes beyond the Metn County.

Since most of the partisans were Christians, and the big majority from the Christian Orthodox denomination, the arguments of the partisans were superficial and lacked inclusion of other religious sects and races in their planning and discussions.  There were however many Moslem Sunni renegades in the mountains that fled from sentences of imprisonment, or were tracked down for fraudulent mandates against them. They constituted communities of their own and cooperated with the Christian outlaws in moments of danger.  On the other side, many Christian renegades lived in the coastal cities of majority Moslem communities but did not mingle as openly as city life offered in variety of opinions and customs.

It was obvious to any sensible partisan that Antoun was and wanted to remain the leader for as long as he could hold on without the need for a formal election and he was willing to accept any political system that would ensure his prime authority.  So the implicit attitude was to wait until the insurrection succeeded.

Thus any discussion was basically cut short on the political system to agree on.  Nevertheless, Antoun had a pretty good idea on the taxation reforms that needed to be implemented and the inkling to allowing the townships to elect their own leaders and council members in order to check any resurgence of the old influential landlords.

Separately, Mariam of the mountain outlaws gang and Noura in the city group were outspoken and relentlessly brought forth the consequences for fomenting a call to an insurgency.  They realized that the major burden in any calamity would ultimately rest on the females’ shoulders and that they would have to cater for the children, elderly people and the wounded. They insisted that if a definite action had to be decided then they had the right to discuss openly and at length the requisite changes that need to be enacted and the alternative duties and responsibilities of each committee.

The fact is both Mariam and Noura made Antoun realize that not much explicit serious discussion had been exchanged within the partisans because, mainly, the males were not that talkative and refrained from bringing topics that would be interpreted as cowardice or ignorance on their part.  Antoun knew that the Emir had infiltrated the outlaws but decided that, by taking judicious precautions, open dialogues among his partisans were necessary to generating the kind of feedback for clarifying the main objectives and problems facing the unity and steadfastness of the insurgents.

Mariam, Noura and Antoun discussed and devised a rudimentary conversational method to encourage open dialogue among the partisans and would interchange roles when necessary for prompting the partisans into speaking their minds as equals in the decision process.

In the practice of open dialogue Antoun learned a different kind of patience, basically how to listen carefully to opinions and refrain from interposing or delivering his own opinion before all information was proposed, classified and summarized. A series of questions were laid out to be asked and responses expounded upon. Antoun noted down a set of questions that he recapitulated on the many gatherings he had with his partisans such as: “What it is that we want?”, “What is it that we wish to do?”, “What is the most important objective for us all?”, “What is the final big thing we all are decided to fight and die for?”, “What is to be done if we agreed on that objective?”, “How are we to proceed if we win power?”, “What is the most important decision we must implement immediately after we take control?”, “Who is planning to resume his normal life after victory”?, “Who is willing to continue his services as a civil servant?”, “What committee are you willing and capable of serving in?”, “Who is ready to continue the fight and suffer additional hardships in the event things turned badly?”, “What comes first, family security or the achievement of the main objective?”, “Who is willing to learn reading and writing if teaching is provided?”.

Being essentially a business man who got dragged into politics, Antoun enjoyed discussing with his down to earth partisans, whom proved to be very meticulous to details when prompted to expand on their opinions; however, as the night dragged on a few partisans in the gathering, and in the spirit of companionship, would become sentimental and would divulge profound personal secrets that would throw Antoun into confusion.

One of the partisans declared in a passionate tirade: “I am ready to spell by blood for the movement because you are all my friends, but in case I die during the insurgency then I do not see who will benefit from my sacrifice since I have no relatives left in this world”  Instead of replying with abstract notions or rebuking a well founded and deeply rooted life needs for continuity, Antoun would get busy finding a wife for his distraught partisan and engaging the community into resolving this unhappiness.  The empathy routines were left to his more talented female companions.

The arguments that rattled Antoun into despair and sudden frenzy, and which were numerous at the start of initiating the gathering sessions, were related to religious affiliations.  Many partisans with limited knowledge felt the urge to show off and could not find any argument in their arsenal but to express the acquired discrimination attitudes toward the Moslems or other Christian denominations and made it a point of honor to display their ignorance and their isolation.

A few partisans went as far as accusing Antoun to cohabitating with the Jews and Moslem infidels and, not just trading on a grand scale but socializing, eating and drinking with them.  They blamed him to bringing a few of the Moslems to the mountains as associates to him and rub it in their noses by inviting them to the meetings. These sessions that dwelt on the sectarian issues were the most trying and delicate to contain and Antoun proved his leadership at these crucial moments, albeit not in a constructive manner.

The leader was habitually respectful with the clergies, especially those close to the people, but had comprehended that religion could be used as a lethal weapon in politics and, more often, to disrupt the fabric of harmony in society for local petty interests.  Antoun had taken stock of the discredit that the movement would suffer if he played in the hands of the extreme confessionals and decided to respond clearly and categorically to any deviation from unity of all the partisans regardless of sect, or religion, or place of birth.

In the beginning the partisans tried hard to deviate from the problems at hand by steering the discussion to the familiar ground of base discriminating aspects in this confined society but Antoun learned to be firm in directing the discussion and keeping it on the target.  He encouraged confronting the discrimination tendencies and steered the discussion toward fruitful dialogues and thus winning the mind of the vast majority of moderates. Soon the word spread that the quickest way to be cast away from the movement is to indulge in unsubstantiated recriminations based on religious discrimination; consequently, blunt references were transformed into innuendoes or wrapped in benign joking bouts that finally did more harm to the cohesion of the movement than opting for direct confrontation and patient enlightenment.

With the exception of confessional opinions, the trio of Mariam, Noura, and Antoun learned never to preempt any position or offer an opinion until everyone had answered the question, extracted clarifications and then offered a summary of the exposed opinions. The kind of answers that the trio would respond to in order to ward off taking definite positions was as follow: “It is not for me to say what should be your position”, or “It is for all of us to agree at the end”, or “We will do what we agreed upon”, or “We need much honesty among ourselves and we will eventually trust to respect each others opinions”, or “We need much information on our enemy”, or “Whoever can provide us with reliable sources it is his duty to strengthen our knowledge”, or “We need much thought; sharing knowledge, information and intelligence will enhance our confidence in victory”, or “I am one of you who also lack much knowledge and information and would not impose any position before you share with me facts and vision”, or “Until everyone feels secure to share with everyone else his difficulties, limitations and capabilities it would be an untenable situation for our struggle which will be plagued with inefficiency and shortcomings”.

Before starting on his trip to the mountains, Antoun would send a messenger to inform Mariam of the time and place of his visit and then would huddle with her for hours in secret, and occasionally with Mustafa when he accompanied him, rehashing the topics and the role playing mechanism before the general gathering with the outlawed gangs.

Mariam insisted on Elias joining her in the general meetings because she felt that his outspoken character would enrich the conversation with hard topics that should be dealt with ultimately. After three months of frequent meetings, which used on occasions to take the best part of the nights, a short list of positions and desires were condensed.  The renegades of the mountains expressed the following inkling:

The mountain renegades preferred a peaceful and secure life in their own towns.

They demanded compensation be paid for their participation after victory so that they could rehabilitate their shattered business and way of life.

They abhorred any kind of taxes but would eventually share in the expenses of running a government if fair taxes were levied on all citizens and if the city civil officers did not enjoy social or economic privileges.

They adamantly refused forced military recruiting and only voluntary participation with fair wages could be contemplated.

They expressed their staunch right to elect their village chief as well as the enforcers of the laws.

Donations in money or lands to monasteries or to the bishops should be taxed heavily and after the agreement of the community.

Profits generated from pro bono works by the peasants to monasteries and bishops should be taxed and the proceeds invested in schools or anything beneficial to the communities.

The coastal city group expressed different priorities in a mercantile spirit but with the same candor, reflecting a variation in their way of life such as:

The right of every city dweller to own properties in any section of town without any class or religious discrimination but price affordability.

Everyone could rent a shop in any ‘souk’ regardless of religious beliefs or artisanal profession.

Any religious denomination should have the right to erect its own center of worship.

Fair taxes should be levied on every profitable business with no exception.

Trade union should be allowed to organize and send petitions for legal demands.

Entrance fees to other coastal towns and cities should be eliminated.

Goods and services should be exchanged freely among towns and cities within the same county and export taxes eliminated to encourage trade and commerce.

The essential advantage of these meetings was that everyone believed that later important decisions would be discussed openly and freely.  This feeling that everyone’s ideas and opinions were important was a new discovery and trends of empowerment were enhanced within the insurgents.

Initially, the coastal city group and the outlaws’ partisans in the mountains were totally separated in the organization and had no communication with each other except through Antoun and one of his close fearless associates called Mustafa Baltaji in the contraband business.  Mustafa, a 26 year old Sunni Moslem, was a de facto right hand man of Antoun and was an eloquent and conversant negotiator. Mustafa infiltrated many garrisons and linked excellent communications with greedy officers and sergeants who enjoyed unavailable goods at reasonable prices.

The armed group of outlaws and deserters were supplied by contraband military hardware and organized formally into specialized units and indoctrinated to an upcoming uprising with promises of substantial loot and occasional revenge.  Coordination and cohesion among the various gangs were established and trained through small and many tactical attacks that generated loot and high morale among the infant army.




May 2011

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