The History of Abigails
Last week a piece of an intercepted missile fell onto my youngest sister Abigail’s shed, penetrating the tin roof, crashing to the ground. Luckily no one was hurt but she was shook up. This event, inconsequential as it may seem at first, marks a big event in our country’s history because, for me, the history of our nation began on March 7, 1987, the day she was born.
She entered the world during the first Intifada, a world already riddled with bullets, tarnished and tattered, where mothers walked aimlessly looking for their children who were long dead. I was born into the first Lebanon War but that was prehistoric times when TV was still in black and white and CDs weren’t invented.
Into this sad world, came a funny, precocious baby who threw food at everybody and wouldn’t be quiet until she heard the same story about the Fox and the Hound.
And that’s the story of the birth of our nation.
In our country’s short history, Abigail has known wars, suicide bombings, inner conflict, assassinations and countless operations, all spread between beach days with watermelons, hikes into the desert and driving in the back of rugged jeeps.
There’s an oral history passed on for 3 generations, which told tall tales about how the earth was created in 1948, when one small man with wild hair stood up on a pile of rubble and declared, “here we are”. There were even mystics who told about the chaos before the earth was created, where people from a foreign land received tablets that led them to an arid rock which they molded into caves. Then something happened and they disappeared for 2000 years, meandering between heaven and earth.
Others tell of another nation, a rugged, brave people who came from the sea and settled on the beach. They fished and grew olives and stood by as ancient nations conquered their land.
These stories are nice but I don’t believe in fairytales.
Our nation is 27.5 years old, give or take. It has been shaped by the scorching sun, the arid desert wind, the fading sea and fortified concrete.
The sounds of war have been playing on Abigail’s CD player, on the radio and on TVs that evolved from crummy speakers to full surround sound. Our traditional songs are performed by air sirens, fighter jets, rolling tanks and the wails of mothers. The sounds penetrate through walls, seep underground and creep into our dreams. If you have never heard a missile dropping from the sky, than you don’t know what death sounds like as it is chasing you.
The other country’s history also began on March 7, 1987, because into the chaos of the first Intifada, a baby was born to a family in Gaza, although I don’t know much about her. I don’t know if she was a precocious baby. I don’t know if she only liked spaghetti with ketchup and what stories her father read to her before she would go to bed. I don’t know what she felt like when a bomb fell on her shed or on her house.
I don’t know, so I have to try and imagine, and to help me imagine better I call her Abigail too. But in history, unlike imagination, one can’t choose their circumstances.
My Abigail didn’t choose to be born on the first day of history, the same day Abigail was born. She didn’t choose to sit in bomb shelters, put on a gas mask, or look from side to side as she sat on the bus on the way to school, just like Abigail didn’t choose to be enclosed on a small dilapidated island where food was given out from trucks. Abigail didn’t choose her kings and queens, her temples and her holy men, just like my Abigail didn’t choose to be a freedom fighter or to have the din of the Muezzin blur into the sound of falling bombs.
Abigail’s shed is destroyed. Abigail’s room is destroyed. Abigail’s friend was killed. Abigail’s brother was killed. Abigail can’t go to work. Abigail can’t go to school. Abigail has PTSD. Abigail has an anxiety disorder. In the nation of Abigails much has been destroyed, much despair has been dished out with rations, much has been dead before it has any chance to come to fruition.
The first day of history was a chance for man to keep his promise to Abigail. Abigail came into this world clean and wet and screaming for attention, goo-gooing and helpless. History, which was created for them, betrayed them. We betrayed them, all of us who came before history, when we waded through mud and clay half naked with our spears and daggers.
On March 7, 1987, we were given the keys to the Garden of Eden, but we sold it for an arid piece of land and stabbed it with flagpoles and barbed wire fences.
One-thousand years from now, archeologists will study the remains of the first civilizations in history. They will divide it into two sections.
The first is aboveground, a fortified kingdom that seemed to have caved in on itself. Scholars will debate over how it was annihilated--was it external or did it crumble from within?
The second section seems to have begun aboveground but then evolved underground where the society flourished, where markets were abundant in the looming darkness.
Archeologists will contemplate how a society could exist in pitch darkness.
To laymen, it might seem that these two societies are completely separate—But in what seems to be their religious centers, there are two shrines for a deity named Abigail and engraved above, in the limestone, there is a date of March 7, 1987. Below that there is a saying carved in the red flint in three languages.
The first two languages are indecipherable, most likely these were the languages used by the two nations. But the third language is deciphered by a leading linguist who declares the words engraved are in Latin, and it reads MAE CULPA and his voice shudders through the air with great vibration.
About the author:
Etan Nechin is an Israeli born writer who is currently living and working in Brooklyn, NYC. He has contributed to The Huffington Post, MutualArt, Mouth London and several other publications. Recently, he attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop Summer Program and is working on his first short story collection.