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each other and watching me, not with hostility, but certainly with some suspicion.

It was an unsettling experience. But the boy, I noticed, still said nothing. He was showing everyone the progress he had made with his kite. I could see that he was a much-treasured child. When the boy came and sat himself down beside me, I knew he was showing me off. I was his guest, and I felt suddenly honoured by that, and moved by his affection.

Then, much to my surprise one of the men spoke to me directly, and in good English. “I am Saeed’s uncle,” he began. “You are most welcome in our home. Saeed would want to say this himself, but he does not speak. Not any more. There was a time when you could not stop him.

“It happened two years ago,” he went on. “Mahmoud was flying his kite on the hill. It was before they built the wall. Mahmoud was Saeed’s elder brother. He loved to make kites. He loved to fly kites. Saeed was with him. He was always with him.

“That day, a settler’s car had been ambushed down in the valley. Three of them were killed. One was a little girl. Afterwards the soldiers came, and the helicopters. There was some shooting. Maybe it was a revenge killing. Maybe it was a stray bullet.Who knows? Mahmoud was shot dead, and Saeed saw it all. Since this day he does not speak. Since this day he does not grow. God willing he will, God willing. But you make the best kites, don’t you Saeed? And Saeed’s kites are not ordinary kites.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Maybe he will show you that himself. Maybe he will fly this kite for you tomorrow. This one is ready to fly, I think. But the wind must always be from the east, or Saeed will not fly his kites.”

I spent the night under the stars, on the roof of the house. I was tired but far too troubled to sleep. I was up at dawn and went down into the valley. I wanted to film the sun rising over the wall. Once I’d done that I climbed back up the hill so that I could get a long shot of the wall, tracking it as it sliced obscenely through the olive groves and across the hillside beyond. Dogs barked, and cocks crowed at one another from both sides of the wall.

After breakfast I went off with Saeed and his sheep, Saeed carrying his kite, now with its string attached. I doubted he’d be flying it that day



Resurgence No. 258 January/February 2010 61

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