Friday, March 18, 2011

A note on Tarek Abdellatif's death - after missing for 6 weeks. By Ahmed Ameen, his cousin

The hardest part of a story to write is always the end. The writer sits and wonders how best to phrase their final words and touch the audience that is to read their story. The hardest ending to a story of all is when you’re talking about the end of someone’s story: their life. Harder still is to write about the violent end to a life. Words cease to become adequate. These words are about the end of one man’s life. A man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for expressing his desire of change like any human has the right to.

This man was Tarek Abdelatif Mohamed AlAktash.

Tarek was 36-years-old. He was happily married with kids and had a wonderful job and a loving family. He lived his life according to his faith and values and always lent a helping hand when needed. He was a man you could lean on in difficult times and a man you could rely on to make you feel better when you were sad. He had no political leanings to the left or right and was not affiliated with any political party, much like countless others living in Egypt prior to the events that began on January 25th 2011. On January 28th, Tarek, along with millions of others in Egypt, took to the streets to express his want of a new governmental system and for change from the 30-year rule of one man and his cronies. Late in the morning he marched towards Tahrir Square to shout out his longing and yearning. He was full of life and vibrantly participating in a revolution, but devastatingly, by eleven p.m. that night, Tarek was dead. Later, it was to be revealed that he was shot in the neck by a 4mm bullet that severed his arteries, killing him instantly. However, Tarek’s story was not over.

By the morning of January 29th, Tarek’s wife had alerted his brothers and family members that Tarek had not come home the night before. Worry hadn’t fully set in for them all yet because during that time, cell phone service had been shut off inside Egypt so it was assumed Tarek had spent the night in Tahrir Square. By the morning of January30th, with no sign of Tarek and no contact from him, his family and friends began to mount a search for him by looking for him in the local hospitals, expecting that he had been injured. Their search led them to the French Qasr Al-Ainy hospital where they were told that all the injured and deceased they had treated and received had been identified and that Tarek was not one of them. Needless to say, relief was the prevalent emotion, but its close companions were worry and the beginnings of fear. If Tarek wasn’t there, where was he?

The next chapter in the story spans almost a month and a half. From January 28th to March 9th, Tarek became one of the most searched for people in Egypt. His story was on local and international news stations. Prominent journalists in Egypt spoke of him on their TV programs. They even had contacts within the military and state security that they exhausted day and night asking about him and his whereabouts. The answers they were given by these governmental entities were conflicting and vague at best. Some claimed Tarek was being held as a prisoner and others said they did not where he was. As the days went by, the hopes of finding Tarek dwindled. Tarek’s wife and family left no stone unturned in the search for him. They became frantic, almost obsessive when looking for him. They knew that every day that passed with no Tarek meant that the likelihood of his wellbeing was jeopardized. The trips to the morgues and hospitals became more frequent and the calls to the military slowly ceased. Tarek’s family could do no more in their search for him. All they could do was pray and hope for a miracle.

On March 9th, Tarek’s brothers received a phone call from a stranger telling them that they knew of Tarek’s whereabouts. When asked where, the man on the phone told them his body was at a morgue. The jarring news hit hard. No one had fully expected that Tarek had died but rather, that he was being held prisoner in an undisclosed location. Tarek’s brothers rushed to the morgue and it was there that the ending to his story was written.

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