Safa and the Marine Face to Face in the Parking Lot (Ahimsa/2)

by Mark Chmiel

Dear Professor
You asked how things are going in grad school
Here’s today’s highlight—

Before going to class today
I stopped at Starbucks to get a latte
As I was walking back to my car
An SUV pulled up to me
A young man with a crew cut popped his head out the window
And said in a loud voice
‘I survived Fallujah
Only to come back home—‘
He stuck his arm out the window and pointed at me
His voice increasingly tense—
‘To see my country filled with terrorists like you!’

So what if he was probably a foot taller than me
And weighed 100 pounds more than me
I stopped and looked at him
And used that teaching you passed on:
‘Just like me, he wants to be happy
He doesn’t want to suffer’
I repeated that in my mind
As I looked at him for ten seconds
His jaw began to unclench
And before I turned to get into my car I said slowly
‘I hope you have a good day’

Safa”

–from the novel, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

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