Words by Adele Jarrar
Illustrations by Eda Çağıl Çağlarırmak
M. was sitting at his desk at work. He was a good programmer with great
potential. His 9-to-5, however, was unbearable.
"Ugh, it's still 1:00 p.m.! Can't wait to go home!" He murmured
to himself while staring at the black programming screen. Then, he grabbed an
old-school sci-fi book which he enjoyed, and immersed himself in the imaginary
world. Since he was a kid, reading was his only outlet in hard times. After a long
day, the clock on the wall pointed to 5:00 p.m.
M. jumped off his chair, put everything on the desk inside his distinctive
black backpack, goodbye-d his colleagues, and left quickly. He was glad
to be in the 'external' world again, hearing different sounds other than the fan
of his old PC. M. went to the supermarket and picked up some processed food
cans and then directly home. That night he couldn't sleep and decided to skip
work the next day.
"They won't even notice I'm gone, Toto!" He said to his goldfish.
It was midnight when M. headed to his balcony and sat on his rocking
chair (his favorite spot in the studio apartment), putting the laptop on his lap.
He started doing the two things he liked the most: chatting with strangers and
learning new code. M. sat listening to the silence of the subtle summer night.
After a while, he grew tired and stood up to stretch his legs. He removed his
sunglasses, rubbed his eyes, and looked at the building opposite the balcony. It
was a commercial centre, one of many built in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Those buildings centres had been a thing back then in Ramallah, but now they
weren't so popular; since people went to huge malls and boutiques in the city's
peripheral. As with many other places, they had become obsolete now.
"Super-modern ruins," M. thought to himself.
While staring across towards the centre's parking area entrance,
M. saw a cat eating some food remains from a tin can. Suddenly, something
unbelievable happened! M. took a step back in shock. Firstly, he saw all the
fluorescent lamps inside the building flicker strangely, then, all of a sudden, the
cat vanished. It disappeared without a trace!
"What happened to that poor cat?" M. said aloud in a shaky voice.
"Maybe I'm just too tired! I should go and wash my face and get back to thinking
clearly," he thought. M. walked to his tiny bathroom and splashed his face. He
looked at himself in the rusty mirror. His face was pale. He dried off and went
back to the balcony and said in a low tone,
"I am not making this up. The food can is still sitting there! A cat
was eating from that can, and it just disappeared right before my eyes!"
He grabbed a cigarette and lit it up. While he was blowing out smoke, he had
"I have to ask people in the chatroom about this!" He thought.
He opened the laptop again, changed the settings of the 'radius' he wanted
his website to find people in, and limited the distances to only 3 blocks around
where he lived.
M : Have you ever seen a cat vanish at 3:00 a.m.?
(The minutes went by slowly and heavily. He smoked maybe four or
five cigarettes, walking back and forth on his balcony.)
Then, after twenty-three minutes, suddenly his laptop beeped:
M : What?
Anonymous: What' what?
I've seen a cat disappear, a dog too.
M : Where?
Anonymous: In that ruined house in Al-Irsal st. in Ramallah.
But I've seen the dog disappear next to an old playground in
Haifa. I was there visiting a friend.
M : Are you kidding me? I don't mean that they run away.
I mean totally vanished in an instant.
M : I'm not kidding. I know exactly what you mean. I actually
started collecting information on these places. Where they are,
how did they appear, what is their function… etc.
M: And what did you find?
A : I am still doing my research, but I believe that places
like these are all over Historical Palestine. I'm still not sure
what they do or how they do it. There might be some sort
of magnetic energy trap or vortex… someone should go
for a trip.
M : I don't believe you. I need evidence.
A : Do you have a printer?
M : Yeah.
Immediately, three sheets of A4 paper came out of his
M : What are those? How did you do this? Did you hack
A : No. Now please take a look.
M. grabbed the papers. He wasn't lying. They
contained basic information about the mysterious
places he had mentioned. The anonymous person
didn't know where all the places were or exactly
what their function was, but this was his research
on the phenomena—how to find and inspect
M : You said that the cause could be activated
one-directional collective energy. What
does this mean?
A : I believe that the cause might be the
suppressed collective wish that all Palestinians
do have. They want their land free. Since
now there is no collective project or real work
on this issue, the Palestinians internalized this
drive without them knowing. I think it might be
the energy of a collective hope. The strength of
this suppressed 'urge' might be what is affecting
the magnetic energy. It seems that it has
transferred and occupied the places that are
not used as usual and has created vortexes of
M : I want to help. I want to be useful and assist
you in your work. This might lead us to something
A : It is dangerous. I hope you consider this.
Please think about this thoroughly.
M : Alright. I will think it through tonight. Talk to
A : Alright. Bye. Whenever you want to chat
with me, just choose the same distances and type
"3:00 a.m." as your status. I will know it's you.
M : Okay. Bye.
M. closed his laptop and went back inside. He was
freezing. He couldn't sleep that night either. He
was thinking of all possibilities, threats, and advantages
of investigating the phenomenon.
Part I: Resolve?
It had been four days since M. contacted Anonymous. During this
time, he hardly slept. He decided to apply for a one-month vacation.
Colleagues and managers' emails and calls were never returned.
What he had seen and what he had been shown were affecting M.
intensely. He was torn as to accept the anonymous offer for help.
Sometimes his facial expressions would be hopeful, like someone
who is lost in the fantasies of what the future could be, how his
homeland might be free, and how great, unusual, fruitful, and prosperous
life could become.
At other times looked grumpy and blue, like someone thinking of
their worst fears. Then, on a nice afternoon, while he was sitting on
his couch, the sun sent one of her rays and entered the room.
"The narrow and light rays could find their way through the rough
concrete." He said in a low tone. He added: "This would mean one
thing: No matter how I feel. I should give it a try. It would open new
possibilities into my and our future." And without thinking twice, M.
grabbed his laptop, opened the chat website, swiftly changed the
settings, and typed: "300am" as his status, and waited. After a few
seconds, he got the following:
A : I am glad that you came back. I guess this means that you decided
on going forward.
M : Yes. I want to give it a try. It's better than just laying around here,
doing the same shit every day.
M. went to sleep before his trip.
It was 2:00 p.m., so he had to take some sleeping pills.
At 10:00 p.m. that evening, he woke up feeling refreshed and
active. The first thing he did was packing his stuff. He brought
his backpack and started thinking about what he should take. He
went to the kitchen and looked around. There were two apples
on the table; he grabbed them and put them in the bag with two
plastic b ottles of water and a bar of chocolate. He walked back
to the living room and took a jacket, a blanket, a camera, and a
torch, and put them into the bag. Suddenly, M. felt a wrenching
pain in his chest out of the sudden terrifying idea he had: that
he might never come back! He wrote a brief farewell email and
scheduled the sending date to two days ahead. In doing so, the
email would be sent if he did not come back, and if he made it
home, he could discard it.
Before he left, he smoked a whole packet of cigarettes, drank a
bottle of beer, ate four bars of his favorite chocolate, put some
food in the fish tank for Toto, and called the only brother he had
(who lived abroad). After finishing those tasks, he said in a clear
"I think I am ready!" He looked at his watch, and it was 1:00 a.m.
He sat in silence listening and listened to the album 'Scenery' by
Ryo Fukui - he'd put the forty mins album on repeat. It was 2:55
a.m. when the alarm he's set on his phone went off. M. stood up,
stopped the music, took his bag, dimmed the lights, closed the
door, and ran down the stairs to be outside the parking gate at
3:00 a.m. sharp.
Part II: The Trip
M. stood in front of the parking gate. Out of uneasiness, he started humming the
melody of a lullaby his passed mother used to soothe him with. Suddenly, a black
cloud appeared, surrounded by sparks and dots of lightning. The cloud moved
steadily towards the wall inside the parking garage in front of him. Meanwhile, the
old fluorescent tubes started in the building began to flicker. M. felt a mysterious
power pulling him to the wall. He started taking steady strides toward it, and
when he reached it, the wall swallowed him inside.
He appeared on the other side, and the cloud was gone. It was dark,
and he felt he was in the middle of nowhere. Outside of regular time and space.
He felt a dense humidity there, a sharp chill. The air was heavy and rotten, and the
silence was deafening to the point that he could hear his own pulse. He reached
into his bag and searched for the torch. *CLICK* and there was light. He was
inside a very small room. In fact, it was more like a well with a very high ceiling
which he could not see. All the walls were empty except for the one in front of
him. It had two openings that looked like air conditioning vents.
"Right or Left?" he asked himself in a shaky voice. He decided to toss
a coin. "Oh! Left it is!."
M. climbed into the opening, holding the torch in his mouth and sliding
his bag in front of him so he could crawl through the intestines of the strange
room. He could barely breathe in there but kept moving slowly. After a couple of
minutes, he reached a dead-end. He pointed his torch upward and saw a small
ladder. He scaled it and pushed open what felt like a clay cover. When he climbed
out, he found himself in a slightly less dark room, made of mud and full of ashes. It
was a traditional Palestinian 'Taboun,' a structure that was built in villages and
used as a large oven where women baked 'Taboun bread' among other foods.
He wiped his clothes, pushed an old wooden door open, and stepped outside
coughing. He was starving, so he opened his bag to take a bite of his apple.
"Eww!" he screamed as he tasted it. They were soft, brown, and
rotten. "How?" he thought.
When he left the Taboun room, M. couldn't believe his eyes. The place
looked so beautiful and serene. Green mountains full of pomegranate trees, long
grasses, colorful butterflies, and buzzing bees. It was sunny. The place was so
enchanting and new to him. M. looked around and saw some old houses ahead
and a narrow alley where he headed towards. There he found some children
playing with some stones. He was surprised by their appearance and said:
Where am I? Is it possible that the opening was a sewage pipe
that led me to a village far from Ramallah?"
A boy smiled at him and shouted: "crazy foreigner is talking to
himself, come and see! Come and see!" Many other boys joined and began
pulling funny faces at M. when an older man noticed what was happening and
"Can I help you?." He shouted in an affirmative voice. "You look
tired and lost!" He added.
"I am starving," replied M.
"Follow me then," said the man. M. followed him as they walked
through many allies. The man pushed a small door and shouted:
"Haniah! Haniah! We have a guest!" A few seconds later, his wife
showed up and opened the main door:
"Welcome!" she said. M. and the man sat in front of the house while
the wife came back with food and tea. M. couldn't hold back and started eating
as immediately. The man did not speak a word and waited for M. to finish his
meal. M. was swallowing some water when the man said: "So, who are you?
what is your story?"
"Before telling you my story, tell me, where am I?
And what time it is?"
"Son, you are in Shilta village, and today is the 13th April 1941."
"Are you sure? he replied, almost unable to breathe.
"Of course! And who are you?"
"I have lived abroad for a long time, and I came for a visit. Thank
you for the food, but I have to go now. I must have lost my way."
M. started collecting his possessions in a hurry to leave. He left the
house without saying goodbye and walked in a hurry to the Taboun where he
came from. Just before entering the Taboun, he remembered to take some photos,
write down the name of the village, and make some notes. He hid among
some bushes and took two rushed photographs. Then he climbed down the
oven opening in the Taboun, closed the clay cover, and went back through where
he came from. In no time, he was exiting the tunnel and fell through the same
cloud he encountered on his way. When he awoke, he had reached the gate of
the parking in no time; he was gasping for breath. He looked at the clock on the
parking meter - it was still 3:00 a.m.! He crossed the street, climbed the stairs,
and threw himself on his bed. He had no trouble sleeping that night.
Part III: Mapping, Mapping, Mapping
M. woke up after an uninterrupted twelve hours of rest. When he woke up, he washed his tired face and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. With a big cup, he went back to his living room, put his bag between his legs, and started unpacking his things. He opened his laptop and connected his camera to it, extracting the only two photos he had captured.
He is looked eagerly at the two photographs he had printed.
"Did I really go there?" He whispered. He put the two images down, opened his notebook, and typed the name of the village in the search engine.
SHILTA VILLAGE, ENTER
M. opened the first result, a Wiki page, and started reading about the village. He shouted to himself: How weird that this place is so close, in distance, to where I live now, but so far away—just like a fantasy or fading memory. This place no longer exists. M.s eyes got teary when he thought about this idea. He felt an unbearable nostalgia and strange sadness. Shilta was a small Palestinian Village in Ramlah. It was near Ramallah and close to the villages of Bil'in and Ni'lin. Although some of the homes are still standing today, Shilta was depopulated by Zionist militias; its people killed or expelled in 1948.
A couple of days later, M. contacted Anonymous and provided him with information on this portal and where it took him. To the past, to Shilta. Using some of the locations Anonymous had given him, M. took another two or three trips through other portals and started sketching out a mapping. One month later, he started thinking of a new idea. This time was different for M. He decided to choose the right opening and travel to the future. This decision took him so long. Traveling to the future is not like traveling to the past. He wrote this note in his diary:
We already know our past. We learned about it in schools, we saw photographs of it in encyclopedias, we heard about it from our grandmothers, and so on. But knowing the unknown? Knowing the future will banish any hopes which are linked to uncertainty. Knowing the future will kill the will to wake up each morning and go through life. The future, whether it's good or bad to us Palestinians, is better to be unknown. It is better to continue what we are doing without knowing what will happen next. But at the same time, wouldn't it be better if we know what will happen and act accordingly? Will we not be able to change the future? Or reinforce it? I do not know; I just feel the need to go.
Part IV: A Future
M. took the right path that would take him to the future. He reached a downward ladder
that he descended to find himself in what appeared to be an old bedroom. There
was dust everywhere, and the windows were covered with wooden pallets. He tried
to look outside to see where exactly he was, but he couldn't see anything. The room
was fairly dark, with only a couple of candles lighting it. He moved toward the door
and tried to open it, but it was closed. M. then felt trapped. He started knocking hard
on the door and shouting with no answer.
"Where am I? let me out!"
M. decided to sit silently on the old bed and wait. After a couple of hours, to his relief,
the door opened. A tall man entered the room and said:
"Hello, M. We were waiting for you."
"Who are you, and where am I?"
"You will know shortly. Could you please follow me?"
M. was skeptical but followed the man anyway. They silently walked through a small
corridor in the house and down some stairs until eventually, they reached a big door.
The man opened it, and they found themselves in a huge room with a large table,
whiteboards, and many books and blueprints. There were a dozen or so people sitting
around the table waiting for them to enter the room.
"Hello!" Many of them said.
"Take a seat," the man said. ,
When everyone was seated, the first man started speaking.
"M., you are in the future. The year is 2100, in a Palestinian refugee
camp. The world is governed by authoritarian fascist authorities, which use
violence and technology to subjugate people and keep them under their control.
Those authorities in Palestinian geography, for instance, brainwash people
to forget about their cause and refuse their basic innate humanistic freedom
instinct among all other people of the world. This process of brainwashing of
people around the world is known by "Refinement/ Tankiyya = ةيقنت
The man paused for a second, looking deeply at M, and then continued.
"To protect ourselves, we detach ourselves from the whole system
and its institutions. We created alternatives to every single aspect of our
lives: education, food, energy, communication, and so on. We also closed our
communities physically. Anyhow, a few years ago, while using radio waves to
send another ally community in Palestine a message, we noticed an unusual
white noise combined with strange short messages that seemed to belong to
another era. We followed the frequencies to find the source of transmission.
When the messages became clearer and clearer, we knew we are close to
the source. After many attempts of trial and error, we managed to detect
the origin. It was a small UN clinic that was abandoned hundreds of years
ago. We spread the message to other groups across Palestine. Many had
been encountering the same thing, and so we started a mass-mapping
operation. It was difficult because we are not free to move anywhere, and
many of those portals and places stopped transmitting signs. However, at
one site, we found a very old and unclear map. We believe if you redo the
map in the present and pay more attention to it, after a long time, we can
use it now in our mission."
M. was so shocked by what he was hearing. He looked confused.
"I don't understand. What mission? What are you talking about?"
"We are a group of people, every one of us is specialized in a field,
some in history, some in ecology and environment, sociology, psychology,
literature, science, politics, theology, and so on."
M. looked around the room at the people gathered there.
"You might be asking what we do and who am I. I’m the one who
was contacting you through the internet.
M. was astonished by the news and said:
The man walked to a small cabinet inside the room, opened a drawer, and took
out an old piece of torn paper with part of it missing.
"Look at this document, Mr. M. do you recognize it?"
M. took a look at the paper in front of him on the table.
"Are not those your initials on this paper, right down to the right?"
M. was surprised again and became tongue-tied when he recognized the paper.
It was showing part of the map he was working on in the present. Those were his
lines, his handwriting.
"We are trying to use the map we found in the future to have
access to specific places in the past. We are trying to change history; we are
experimenting with creating an alternative history by going back to different
places and times in the past and change events. We must stop the Nakba
from happening. We want to change our future, create one without refinement.
One where Palestine and the rest of the world is free."
M. continued to look around, trying to make sense of everything he was hearing.
"You were the person who was working on this map in the
past, your present. But as you can see, you didn't pay attention to preserving
it properly. We need to encourage you and let you know that you
must figure out a better way to create this map so we can find it again.
Time is not linear; time is a crazy loopy circle. What you do back in the
present will certainly change the future, and past and vice-versa. The
future is not something that is going to happen; it is already happening
there, but in the 'future.' time is not created; it is rather lived, flexed, and
twisted. In addition, time's closed-circuit goes again with its eternal
return quality, according to Nietzsche. We can find this map again in
the future and reactivate the portals you mapped. We believe that time
goes in cycles, not linear: one day, this day, and this future will happen
again, and until then, we or 'them' will be ready."
M. closed his eyes and took a deep breath, reorienting himself in the room.
"The dangerous thing is that once you get back to the present,
you will never be able to come to the future again. This is the last time
we meet." said the anonymous man. "Now, I will show you the list we
are working on of the events we are changing and experimenting with.
Ottoman Era: Stealing Rothschilds' money so
he cannot support Zionism?
Sneaking in the printing house of the Moniteur
Newspaper and delete the letter Napoleon
wrote encouraging Zionism in Palestine after
he was defeated in Acre. Or should we better
let him win in Acre hence he would not be this
British Mandate: Hide all the archaeological
sites in Palestine so that first British groups
that came to Palestine hiding behind archaeological
studies missionary schools would have
no excuse to stay?
Before 1948: We must form a number of secret
groups in Jaffa, whose mission is to cultivate
lands inside the city with edible crops so that
they will be able to survive longer during sieges
Before 1918: Infiltrate the Ottoman Land property
department and find the "Koushans"*
(deeds) of the Sursock's family lands of Jezreel
Valley in Marj Ibn Amir and change their ownership
before the family sells them to the
Before 1916: Re-draw Sykes-Picot Map
Before 1916: Sneak into Arthur Balfour's house
and change the declaration document the
night before the speech and give the UK to
Before 1860: Spread rumors about Joseph
Hertzel being unfaithful so that his wife Janet
asks for a divorce before conceiving of their
Before 1915: Edit the McMahon–Hussein
Before 1914: Campaigning for providing and
preserving food in Germany before the blockade
of Germany In WWI
"But why do you not simply go to each village that was depopulated
by Zionists and forbid Zionist militia from massacring the people
or expelling them?" asked M.
"We tried that once, but it did not help us maintain what we are
doing now. You cannot deal with all of history with such a small action.
We once went back to a Palestinian village called "Ijzim," and we stopped
Nakba there, but when we returned to the future, our colleague H. who is
specialized in history was gone. It turns out his ancestors were expelled
from that village and settled here in this camp. Once we changed the
past, H. and everything his ancestors did, built, changed, and had here
were gone. It was a mess! We have to deal with history cautiously, and
to change many events in the past is a cumulative and sensitive method.
Time is an endless equation with infinite variables. If we are going to
change anything, it has to be something that we know will have a dramatic,
M. began to realize the situation he had found himself in. Before he
could think of any more useful questions, he noticed the room began to fill with
the black smoke and sparks he has seen before.
"I understand. I think I have to return."
"Yes. It seems that the vortex is closing. Quickly, head back the
way you came. Good Luck."
Chapter IV: Epilogue
M. had changed. What he had heard changed everything he used to be. He felt
less imprisoned in his own life and his own options, and the collective futures
of his people. Palestinians.
The 15th of October 2020
We should keep on doing what we are doing. And we should do it well, even if
we do not know how things might turn out in the future. We must believe in what
we do and do it so well. We are important as individuals and as communities.
Maybe we do not know how to get what we hope for, but at least, as a group,
we know we want to be free.
M. continued, dedicated, to work on the map. When he finished it,
after many sleepless nights, a small smile pulled across his pale face. Rather
than file it away as he had planned, he scanned the precious document. On
his desk sat hundreds of memory cards. Carefully he copied the file, saving
an electronic edition of the map onto each. He took the small chips and glued
them to the back of embroidered maps of Palestine, the ones found in every
Palestinian home. Finally, he framed and packaged them. He sent them as gifts,
first to family and friends, then to random families in Palestinian refugee camps
all over the world, spreading the stories of the past as far as he could so that
one day, the future might be different.