"But to die here—no! I don’t want to die under the rubble. I’ll pretend I’m going down to the street to look for a newspaper. Fear is shameful in the midst of this fever of heroism erupting from the people—from those on the front line whose names we don’t know, as well as the simple souls who have chosen to stay in Beirut, to devote their days to the search for enough water to fill a twenty-liter can in this downpour of bombs, to extend the moment of resistance and steadfastness into history, and to pay the price with their flesh in the battle against exploding metal. Heroism is here in this very part of divided Beirut in this burning summer. It is West Beirut. He [sic] who dies here does not die by chance. Rather he who lives, lives by chance, because not one span of earth has been spared the rockets and not one spot where you can take a step has been saved from an explosion. But I don’t want to die under the rubble. I want to die in the open street.
Suddenly, worms, made famous in a certain novel, spread before me. Worms arranging themselves in rigid order into rows according to color and type to consume a corpse, stripping flesh off bone in a few minutes. Just one raid. Two raids, and nothing’s left except the skeleton. Worms that come from nowhere, from the earth, from the corpse itself. The corpse consumes itself by means of a well-organized army rising from within it in moments. Surely, it’s a picture that empties a man [sic] of heroism and flesh, thrusting him into the nakedness of absurd destiny, into absolute absurdity, into total nothingness; a picture that peels the song from the praise of death and from the escape into flight. Was it to overcome the ugliness of this fact that the human imagination—the inhabitant of the corpse—opened a space to save the spirit from this nothingness? Is this the solution proposed by religion and poetry? Perhaps. Perhaps.
I don’t want to die disfigured under the rubble. I want to be hit in the middle of the street by a shell, suddenly. I want to burn completely, to turn into charcoal, so that not even those worms in the novel can do their eternal duty on me: worms don’t eat charcoal. I’ll therefore say to myself I’m looking for a newspaper, to justify my walking in a street empty even of cats and dogs. I’ll pay no heed to what’s happening outside the window—shells, rockets, ships, jets, artillery—all blowing my way like a raging wind, falling like rain, shaking the place like an earthquake. Human will can’t do anything against these; they’re a fate that can’t be turned back. All the unimaginably evil inventions human creativity has ever come up with and all the advances technology has achieved—their efficacy is now being tested on our bodies. Will this be the longest day in history? No one is washing the dead. Let the dead then wash themselves—I mean with blood flowing more freely than water..."
Mahmoud Darwish - Memory for Forgetfulness, 1982