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A Poignant Chapter from “God on Trial” by Dr. Sabri Bebawi

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THE PROSECUTOR

On rare occasions, he goes into a deep sleep. He doesn’t know for certain if now is one of these rare occasions. In a semi dream state, he feels the needs to impeach God. He sees himself as a representative of the Office of the Prosecution. He is responsible for confirmation of charges in major world cases that concern international humanitarian law brought to the International Court of Justice. These include crimes against humanity, such as murder, rape, and sexual slavery; war crimes, such as acts of terrorism, murder, outrage upon personal dignity, torture, and savagery; and other violations of international humanitarian law, including the abuse of children and the enlistment of children into armed forces in many parts of the world.

For him there is a major challenge. How he will summon a nonexistent being to appear before a court of law? He resolves the issue by deciding the trial should be in absentia. A slight earthquake, which is common in California, interrupts his trance. He now thinks of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange; a mysterious power is trying to prevent him from divulging the truth; it is trying to forbid him from exposing viciousness, savagery, fear, It takes him a long time to settle. He’s now certain he’s fully awake because of the quake. He doesn’t remember much of what he was thinking about minutes earlier. He remembers only something about a trial, the International Court of Justice, and crime and punishment. He recalls Dostoevsky’s classic novel Crime and Punishment. In the book a former student named Raskolnikov considers committing an unclear hideous crime. He’s consumed with the idea of crime and punishment. He also is convinced God has committed repugnant crimes against humanity, and he intends, in his state of hallucination, to have him impeached.

His thoughts deplete him. He is severely tired and decides he should try to sleep. A few minutes      he lies down, his body begins to shake, and another seizure takes him to another dimension of existence; he isn’t sure which dimension or whether he exists at all. This seizure lasts about two minutes and leaves his mind drained and his fragile body floating in the unknown, not well understood world of Stephen Hawking, where the theme is “No matter how thorough our observation of the present, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.” Everything is a mere possibility. He may not have had a seizure. He might not be thinking what he is thinking. His conviction to punish God for his crimes might be just a mere possibility and not necessarily fact. Quell dommage! Mere possibilities, he muses. If everything is a mere possibility, he thinks, then, our own existence is only a possibility. Even the entity people refer to as “God” is a mere possibility. The prosecutor part of his personality takes over. How will God appear before the court? he wonders.

God cannot be summoned, for he has no land, no country, and no address. He is simply a mirage; he is an imagination, a creation of our own minds. Yet he is determined to bring God to justice; he needs answers. The seizure he just experienced leaves him in a unique state; he doesn’t know whether he’s awake, asleep, or still under the spill of the seizure. He is aware of his thoughts, though. Some extraordinary power brings the child in him to life again. He decides to write down his thoughts. The summer of 1967 has had a long-lasting impact on my personality and life. I was only a ten-year-old child. A ten-year-old child then was in no way like a ten-year-old child now. We were innocent; we knew little or nothing; we were utterly dependent, insecure, and timid. And I was no different.

The war began on June fifth, and we lived in darkness, amid the dreadful sounds of sirens. When my mother left my father and us behind, my father took good care of us at first. Every day my two brothers and I ate at the best restaurants. My father showed us immense affection. Then, for some reason, possibly out of fear and worry, he began to lock us in the house. He’d take the key then he send for us when it was time to go eat. After we ate, he’d lock us up in the house again. I never forgot how my brothers and I felt like prisoners as we spoke to our neighbors from the balcony, veranda, or windows. It was an eerie time; it was a ghostly time. It was a time never to forget and a time to be engraved in our souls for eternity.

The unpredictable and volatile happened; my father became unable to care for us, so he made the vilest of decisions; he transferred my brothers and me to his father’s mansion in a village called Tobhar so my grandmother and my uncle’s wife could attend to us. It was a grave move, one that nearly destroyed me physically and mentally. I hated the village, and that’s possibly the reason why I don’t like to be close to nature today; it brings about fear, discomfort, and unexplainable despair. I detested my grandfather’s enormous mansion; it scared me so much that I would run from one area of the house to another. I despised my grandfather, as for the first time, I grasped who he was. He was a landowner and was severely abusive to the farmers who worked the plantation; I watched him whip them as though they were his slaves. He was abusive to everyone around him, including my grandmother. Yet he also was a very religious man and never missed Mass or Sunday communion.

He read the newspapers every morning and afternoon and repeatedly cursed President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Abdel Nasser had confiscated part of my grandfather’s land during the revolution reforms and given it to farmers so they could care for and improve themselves. My grandfather hated this, as he was a heartless capitalist. Perhaps this is why I am now an earnest socialist. My brothers and I, along with my four male cousins, slept in two large bedrooms, with two children in each bed. I slept next to my twenty-two-year-old cousin, George. Late at night I’d feel him take my hand and place it on his pubic hair; then he’d force me to hold his penis. At my age and in my innocence, I couldn’t understand why that thing, his penis, was big, nor did I understand what my cousin wanted.

In fractions of a second, I’d recall how our young female helpers at home used to ask to see and touch my tiny penis and also ask me to touch their breasts and private parts. I must admit that I liked the sensation, even though I didn’t understand it. This went on for a long time. We played doctor, and we played husband and wife. The helpers were teenagers, and I was a mere child with no understanding of this human pleasure. Though I liked what had been going on with the helpers, I didn’t like or understand what my cousin George was doing. He’d ask me to turn around and place his penis between my buttocks, and I’d lie there frightened and confused. A nagging voice inside me kept telling me that what was happening was wrong. I’d cry in silence, afraid to tell anyone. I was a ten-year-old child then, which is the equivalent, in terms of knowledge and innocence, of a three- or four-year-old today. From June to July 1967, the abuse continued, and I loathed being in my grandfather’s mansion.

Then I became very ill. I was on the verge of death and constantly cried for my mother. Finally, against my grandfather’s wishes, my grandmother ordered a car and transported me to my mother in Fayoum. Though I was terribly sick, I was the happiest soul in the world when I saw my mother, my maternal grandmother, and my baby sister, who was just a year or two old.

This happiness didn’t come without a grave sense of guilt for having left behind my baby brother in the village. He was only seven years old, and God only knows what form of abuse he went through. He and I never have talked openly about it, although I told him everything that happened to me. I’d cry for him each night and beg my mother to call for him to join us.

As for my older brother, who sadly met his demise at the age of forty, I wasn’t so worried. He was thirteen years old at the time, and he loved the village life and living in the mansion. He enjoyed climbing trees, playing in the lakes, and riding horses and camels. There was no reason for me—or at least I believed—to worry about him.

At my maternal grandmother’s house, another male cousin, Magdy, who was twenty-five at the time, also sexually abused me. While my mother, grandmother, and baby sister were asleep, he’d force me to go to the toilet with him and touch his penis. Again I was terrified to tell anyone about these incidents.

After remembering all this, he’s even more confused, and his mind feels even more muddled by Hawking’s ideas about possibilities. He wonders whether any of those events really happened. He knows they did, but considering that all things are possible, it’s also possible that they never happened. He convinces himself to fuck it and go to sleep, or at least try to.

He goes to bed, thinks a bit more about putting God on trial in absentia, and falls asleep.

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Categories: The Resistance

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