Tears Of Damascus Pt 7

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Harry woke up to the buzzing of his phone, it was 3am. “We understand you have made contact with our asset?” said the caller. “Yes” mumbled Harry. “How will you proceed?” inquired the caller. Harry scrambled for his thoughts in a blur of tiredness “Please advice” he replied. “You need to be cautious and gain their trust, it may take time for them to turn” came the reply and then a further reply “Be careful you don’t get turned yourself”. The call finished on these last few words leaving Harry wide awake.

Paranoia crept in and took a firm grip, was Harry being watched? On one hand it should be obvious but it had never occurred to him until now. Technically, he was a rookie out on the field for the first time and well, they clearly lacked conviction in him. But right now he lacked conviction in himself. Thoughts flashed back to offhand remarks made to him at the Christmas partys back at HQ. The parading round in front of him with bacon sandwiches. Supposedly anti Jewish sentiment was a thing of the past in this enlightened age but his workmates were far from enlightened.

Then Harry’s thoughts focussed on life back at home in Clapton Common. Growing up in an ultra orthodox community, studying long hours in the ‘Yeshive’, being part of a large family of 5 brothers and 3 sisters, no access to the TV or the internet. Out of this tight knit community Harry had somehow found himself working for the secret service. He had been monitored and groomed for the job due to his high IQ and resourcefulness. His family pleaded with him not to take the job but Harry took it probably out of his need for belonging. Harry saw himself as English and had felt at one time that it would be a great honour to serve his country. That sense of purpose and belonging very quickly deteriorated as he watched how his colleagues would bait and blackmail everyday people to spy on their communities. In some cases, perfectly ordinary young men with bright prospects became ruthless killers filled with angst and rage after enduring years of bullying, bribing and manipulation. And this was all part of the job, a ‘necessary evil’ despite the far reaching effects and the cost of lives to those they were supposed to be protecting in the first place.

Harry had another secret, he had been suffering from anxiety for quite a while now. He kept this secret from everyone from his family to his workmates at HQ to his current workmates at the refugee camp and it was eating him inside. This had only been compounded further by the late night call and the very real conflict in his heart concerning Paul and Muhsin. He tried to focus on what made him happy, what gave him meaning and purpose and in the pitch dark hours of the night, he found his belonging in working in the camp, in helping the displaced people who had lost everything to a brutal civil war. He thought of Halimah, the young girl studying away in her tent hoping to escape from the harshness of the Syrian conflict to a better life. Right now, he felt he could just leave it all and work in the camp and he would be happy, happy if he could make a difference to those peoples’ lives. Harry soon found himself wandering back to the phone call that had awoken him so abruptly, the words played back in his head “Be careful you don’t get turned yourself” but wasn’t he already turning?

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