I really did want to post earlier about whom I consider a friend, Vittrio Arrigoni! The Italian journalist and ISM activist who got murdered (suffocated) by a group of extremists. Every time I tried to do it, I just couldn’t finish it and it was so angry as I was! But not anymore. I mean let’s remember together who this man really was! Regardless of his terrific work that I wouldn’t dare talking about as it speaks for itself. Vittorio was this beautiful, passionate, caring, loving and energetic person who’s full of life & humanity! When you enter a place or a room you’d know he’s there because his loud voice and laugh would actually shake the place! Not to mention his funny English accent let alone his Arabic one! You’d fall in love with him when he says “AH, MUSHKILE!!” which means “Oh, that’s a problem!!”. And his text messages that would be half English, half Arabic and you can’t tell which is which! I’ve never seen him sad or upset! He lived a beautiful, meaningful life and he would want me\us to do the same. I feel it’s our duty to convey his message to the world, to be passionate about what we do, to always laugh, sing and dance, to be better peace activists and to live and fight for a cause and to die with honor. What happened to him is a real tragedy that was committed by non-humans! No one could’ve been more Palestinian than our Vik, so to the murderers out there: I feel so sorry for you; you’re just so pathetic and weak! What you did to Vik didn’t actually kill him; he’s not dead..YOU are! He’s alive in every street, in the sea, in the farms, on the walls and in our hearts!
When I heard the news, I was following the case of his abduction on twitter and before that I told my friends that I’m not putting his face as my profile picture because that was insane since he’s going to be released right next morning!!! I was so sure, as all of you were (I guess) that he’s going to be out in any minute! I was joking naively about it on twitter saying “Believe me, this is fake. He’s hiding so I won’t laugh at him at Saturday night’s Classico” and people were asking me who he cheers for and I was like “He’s for Barca, that scumbag!” I swear I said that literary and we were laughing about it. One told me that Vik is going to kill us when he gets out for accusing him of hiding and being afraid, not to mention calling him scumbag..and other bad things! We were laughing and so sure he would when he gets out and see all the jokes we were telling behind his back! Not for a moment, I believed how serious it was. I blamed myself when I heard the news of his murder for not taking it seriously, for not putting his picture, for telling jokes and calling him bad names but again, that’s how we used to communicate always laughing, joking and making fun of each other! I didn’t get how this would change at any time at any day!
Sorry for the title! I know you all would think I’m crazy or inappropriate or something, BUT when I & Vik used to talk, this is how we used to do it; always mean, fighting, yelling at each other. And I’ve always called him bad names, but I just noticed that he never did the same to me, he always laughed about it. So, allow me to continue addressing him the way I used to do & the way he liked, cuz actually when I do this with anyone, it means that I love him very deeply! So, I’ll keep loving him in my own way and tell him: “Damn you bastard, you made me cheer for Barca”!!
Our friendship was not work-related! It was, as he always was with others, so beautiful & humane! We both are football crazy. We would fight for hours and text nonstop attacking each other and making fun of each other’s teams! We were rivals; he’s for Juventus & I’m for Inter Milan, he’s for Barca & I’m for Madrid, he’s for Manchester & I’m for Liverpool & of course he’s for Italy & I’m for Brasil.. Total enemies. That’s how we first met few years ago in Al Deira restaurant, we talked about different things & when you meet this guy, you just can’t help but to love him! Then when it came to football, I knew he was from Milano then he said he’s for Juventus and then we started the fight that was so funny & endless!
Vik was not only there when it came to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He was also there for us internally, specially when we started the March15 popular movement (sorry for not posting about it as I promised, but a lot happened and I couldn’t. I’ll make a big one soon.)! He went out in most of the demonstrations and he got beaten up just like the rest of us. On the big day of March15 when the big attack happened in Kateebe Square he was there and was beaten..right after that, he called me to make sure I was safe! On the “horrible” Day of Land 30th of March, I saw an injured girl in the street who got hit by a police jeep during our demonstration calling for the end of division though she was just walking by. I stayed there to help her and he was calling me but I didn’t answer, then he called my sister to know where I am so he could come and bring a doctor along as he thought I was the one who got hit. She told him I was there to offer help, but he wanted to come and bring the doctor to help us as much as possible no matter how hard she tried to convince him that it was so dangerous and risky for him to go there. Later on, I called them to say that everything’s fine and we got her to the hospital. Before March15, I got arrested with a group of girls for standing in solidarity with Egyptians. He was following our case every step of the way, tried to help and then after we got released he was texting and calling to check if I was OK! Also in Sharek Youth Forum incident in December 2010 he was following our news and stood beside us and supported my friend Mostafa when he got arrested that day.. and I can tell you tens of similar situations where you ALWAYS find him there for you! And in every time no matter how bad it is, he just manages to make me laugh. He doesn’t know how helpful that was, that’s something I’ll always miss!
In Vik’s mourning house, I met a lot of people who were in a bad shape grieving their friend. We shared stories, they made me cry even more! Everyone had his own story. -Shahd was supposed to meet him on Friday, the day after his abduction! -Razan was supposed to accompany him to visit some family in a distant area. -Asa’ad had brought him a new pair of shoes as Vik’s were worn-out and Asa’ad has been hallucinating since then “Oh my friend, won’t you take the new shoes I brought you?”. -Abu Zuhdi and others stayed the night before the murder at the Gallery (Vik’s favorite place) till the morning with Vik and did nothing but playing Oud and singing beautiful songs of Palestine & Fairouz! -Fadi & Asa’ad couple of days before the murder were listening to loud, beautiful music for Mohammed Mounir while Vik was in a meeting at the same time & same place. Then he left the meeting and joined them in their crazy moment dancing and singing so loudly! Then he gave Fadi famous small medal of “Handala” he used to put on his hat after Fadi asked him for it. I was happy that it wasn’t lost with his other stuff, and it’ll be kept by someone who knows what it really means! Most of the crowd didn’t really have that close relation with him, but hey, who didn’t talk to Vik before? Who didn’t pass by him without getting his warm smile, who didn’t sing Onadeekum along with him, who didn’t talk to him and heard his lovely Arabic accent, who didn’t at least see his face before? Vik was well-known in Gaza, like a Hollywood star! -For me, I felt blessed that I could remember the first & last times we met as I don’t usually remember so easily. Then after that I started to have all the memories at once like a flash back that made me laugh while I was crying that I looked insane! Last time I saw him was in a gathering for friends and we had so much fun that night. I remember one ordered a Nutella cake and we ate it right from the box. That was so savage and disgusting that made us all laugh about it. Ah, and he was singing Gaqqfai’s famous revolutionary song “Zanga Zanga”. I wish I knew that was the last time to see him, really if I ever want make a wish, it’d be knowing when it’s my last time with someone! I wish..!
At Saturday night, we had the big game of Real Madrid vs. Barcelona that I was supposed to watch with him at the Gallery. I went there with my family & friends without him next to us, but with him in my heart & mind. I went because we should’ve been there together, the only difference was that he was watching from the heavens and I was here on Earth! I decided to go and cheer for Barcelona as he always wanted!! Some of the crowd were chanting for Madrid and others for Barca & I was sitting there silent; not knowing what to do. Most of the time I was forgetting my decision and would scream for Madrid and then I’d go “Shit, I forgot. Go Barca”! That was horrible lol, not to mention how much hated I was from both crowds!! I was tortured that night and it was so messed up but hilarious! I had my American friend right next to me saying “Vik is laughing his ass off at you right now!” Yes, I bet he did!! I hope my gesture that night made it up for him for all the times when I was mean to him and for never telling him how much I did love & respect him! Because cheering for the enemy (Barca) means that I love you, man!Our dearest friend Shahd Abu Salame finally did that painting you always wanted her to do and I did cheer for Barca as you always were telling me to do.. You bastard, you always get what you want!
http://youtu.be/boBp7g6MaeQ This is a video of me and friends in a little protest in solidarity with our Egyptian brothers during their revolution. Vik joins us and starts to sing the famous Onadeekum and I’ll quote his ISM colleague and good friend Adie here:
“Vik used to sing this revolutionary song by Palestinian poet, communist Tawfiq Ziad: ‘Ounadikum’ or ‘I’m calling you’ on many demonstrations in Gaza. The first few lines are exactly Vik:
I’m calling you
I shake your hands
I kiss the ground beneath your feet
I’d die for you
I dedicated to you the light of my eyes
And I give you the warmth of my heart
And the tragedy that I live is that my fate is the same as yours
I couldn’t sleep as in few hours Gaza will officially say goodbye to Vik. His body will leave this place, but not his heart..not his mind nor his spirit! He’ll be stuck here in Gaza and we’ll be stuck there in him forever! No black clothes and hopefully no tears, with lots of love we’ll celebrate your humanity and greatness today..Sleep well ♥
~ Reposted by Sofia Smith