Goodbye my friend, Ali Mustafa

Ali, our mutual friends are changing their profile pictures to your face. To your piercing eyes that reach out and grab the photographer right through the lens. I wonder where you are now. Your body is just here, just a few hours drive, but where are you now? What crazy adventure are you up? 

Eventually, they'll change their pictures back, and that day I will cry as I cried all day. What does it mean when they change their pictures? Are they identifying with you? Are they saying they could be you? That your fate could be theirs? That they miss you? Your life, the way you lived it, could have only been lived by you. The life you have lived is the only life you could live. 

And what about your profile? Who will change it? What will they change it back to? Whose job is it to cancel profiles? 

Today, the sky bust open. It was warm and sunny. The neighbourhood was full of sounds. Then at one moment, the same moment my heart finally understood you were gone, the sky ripped open and showered us with such rage that the drops of water hit the earth like stones. Exploding on impact. I knew it was you. It was of you. It was your goodbye as you set off on your adventure with the same intensity with which you lived all your life. It was with such force that the sky didn't know how to react and burst open.

That fire with which you lived was a burning rage. About what was happening all around you, about the tragedies and the struggles you were documenting, you were living. That fire swallowed the earth. I know if you were here now, what you would care about is the names of those other seven people the earth swallowed with you. Maybe, like me, you would hate these slogans. Martyr, hero… 

Death is not peace. You never were in peace, not the Ali I knew, and I doubt you are now. I think you are still out there, burning. 

I bet you're sitting there with the divine spirit(s), showing them your photos and telling them of all the things you saw. Flipping through beautiful, devastating images and arguing as you used to argue with me, just to try and make sense of all this mess. Of all these messes. I used to tell you that you can't come here from a place of rage, but then again what do I know. 

I don't like these slogans, Ali. For me death is not an ultimate sacrifice. People don't fight for sacrifice, we fight for freedom. But you did sacrifice because sacrifice is to go back even after the fear has swallowed you whole. To go back even after your heart can't take any more. Again and again. The boring. The waking up in the morning with sorrow and rage burning behind your eyes and keep going. 

And that fire… did not simply go out. There are thousands of us in whom it is still burning. And it will, for a good long while. Keep burning, Ali.

Lia Tarachansky is a Jaffa based filmmaker and the Israel/Palestine correspondent for The Real News Network (TRNN) where she produces short, documentary-style reports exploring the context behind the news.

This piece originally appeared on Lia Tarachansky's blog and is reprinted with permission.

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