The Smell of Siege and the fragrance of freedom
‘Like fish in a barrel, with nowhere to go’
Galloway, on Gaza
by Seema Amin for AlalODulal.org
It must be that nothing is inviolate in a violated world.
Deciduous blood clots, men carrying the brains of children, women walking through a valley of imploded concrete wombs, the sea’s shimmering hypnotizing the Ramadan sky with the scintillating fire, precision bombs, intended to make the most out of human skin’s sensitivity.
The fans are all turning on the seventh floor of Hossain Market.
Between the red and yellow, pink and black variants on the brightness the girls carry, there is the occasional canary yellow Eid dress; someone’s child is circling the sewing machines and tables that have been cleared to make space for the women who are fasting (unto DEATH) on Eid.
‘We will not accept a Living Death.’ The citizens of Gaza, who have never been citizens, said pointblank.
It is intriguing, if one had the time for irony, in a world so timed to the needs of coordinates half a world away—Germany who must receive its orders in time to sell its jerseys during the World Cup—to consider the violation of a cultural expectation and how it hurts even the sensibilities of the jaded, numbed Dhaka everyman. ‘We were not allowed to pray outside’, said the men. ‘We want to go home and celebrate too…’
The world awaits a release. The system….promises breaks and freedoms, breathing spaces that keeps things going…moves it forward…not an opiate but perpetual cheese.
But a hungry rat has no desires.
And a starving rat is senseless.
Delwar, neither hungry nor starving. Is awaiting a strange bail hearig in the High Court. Already convicted for criminal negligence, he has been successfully operating his five factories under Tuba Group, so successfully he received direct contracts from German companies like Owim KG for World Cup T Shirts. So successful he says he needs loans or he can’t pay the workers. So successful he can’t get loans, he says. It’s as if Israel was promising an independent state of Palestine. Post—its destruction.
May, as they toiled for the World Cup T Shirts for Argentina, Germany, Brazil….June as they toiled over the regular buyers, H M, Levis. Rawlings
July Seventh, third day of the Gaza invasion, a photo of a pink horizon floated on social media.
Twelve hundred workers—no, more, 1500– protesting in North badda, blocking the road, demanding their due pay and expecting their bonus.
For daring to think themselves anything more than Delwar’s hostage population, cogs in his rusty wheel, on Ramadan, they were treated to pink songkranth, a strange ‘holdi’ …. ….illegal tear gas, with unknown consequences. Two workers tell me what this crowd control product, made usable under the Police Reform programme, has meant for them.
Anwar, hurt by the pink ‘tear gas’ and the canisters that spit out glass when they opened, and Shalom, even more visibly injured, have nowhere to heal their wounds, so they, unlike the girl whose legs are gone from the eating she took and the pregnant women assaulted in their safe space during the protest by xyz, returned to the factory floor
Where the workers are occupying the factory
Where they have taken over the five factories.
Where they surrounded the mother in law of Delwar
Where they are demanding their due pay without any conditions
Any of the bribes, concessions, compromise
Where the informers, sell outs and dalals must face the consequences
Of a fraternity built on the inviolate roses of a violated world
When we entered the building, at the gate, a girl was crying. I don’t know why. Some things are not to be known. But no one is crying upstairs. There the atmosphere is not siege, but a very strange smell…. The sound of will, when it is employed.
What thirteen hundred women and three hundred men are being deprived of, is what the rest of us have been given….a reason to go on, as if nothing had happened in this world. From sunrise to sunset, as though no new story had been told.
When the Buddha said deprive yourself of illusions and seize the end of Samsara, that is, the end of feeding yourself that which keeps the cycle gong…. … ….Ramadan is not just about controlling one’s base instincts, it is about reversing the immune system, living as spirits and not animals. Somehow knowing we are inviolate, in a violated world.
A people at the edge of the world have no illusions.
Without rent, watching their comrades bleeding, not sure if they will get to give their earnings to their parents, having been told they will get it any day now, the line towed by the BGMEA to journalists. The BGMEA that promised plenty…and compromised on the workers’ due pay with the factory management, who actually went around asking workers to sign in favour of Delwar’s bail.
Giving the lie to power is like hitting yourself with a tank, or a bulldozer.
The costumed stone inside the machine will just roll over you, level you, pretend you are sand.
But, and this is all the but that ever stopped an inexorable logic:
The situation inside the factory is not desperate but fierce, it is not pathetic but willful.
I won’t echo the echo of the chants, the slogans in the mouths of these girls and boys, men and women.
A factory occupation, finally. Unprecedented. Unique. Dreamed of, by the May Day gang. Here. Now.
One medic, one paramedic. A media blackout lifting with the descending darkness of the end of Eid.
These are the workers you have been dreaming of, the ones who know their worth
This is the man who fought That War.
Now call him what he is, your brother
(there was a feeling once, that maybe the fans are on cause the show must go on, cause Delwar and Co want the show to go just this way, somehow to force them into a corner where they would succumb to the desire for a crumb….but like the people of Gaza, the workers of Tuba group have said
Your freedom, has never, ever, meant ours. Join the ‘occupation’.
We need paramedics and press, but most of all, we need pressure, on the state, on the citizens on the people)
Our freedom is nothing without the freedom of the Palestinians…
And fill in the blank…