“The Moment the Cell Door Opened,” prison testimony by Ahmed Alfaitouri. Banipal 50, Summer 2014, pp. 112-7.
In the section of those inmates sentenced to death or life imprisonment there was always a deafening silence. Through a hole in the wall—I found it because of the patchwork construction of the prison walls—we started written and verbal exchanges between the cells. From all the cells came questions about what was or was not going on. Nothing happens, nobody comes, I thought to myself, echoing a phrase from Beckett’s famous play Waiting for Godot.
Our continuous hunger was absorbed by the quiet of the place, and both seemed in their turn swallowed up by the tension that was, indeed, master of the place. No. It was Lord of the Wait. But our spirits had been too confined to hold it in any longer, and agitation spread among the beds. At four meters wide and four meters long, the cell was a volleyball court. There were those among us who jumped at the inspiration of a thought, those who flew from the tension, and those who swam in the pool of untrustworthy stillness.