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With a Mournful Heart

I wanted to be called and told that it was a rumor or a bad joke.

I landed in Amman around 6:30 in the evening. I went through customs and connected my phone to the airport Wi-Fi. I slid my finger across the WhatsApp notifications to check the messages that had been sent to me and I saw a voice message from my mother and another from my aunt.  

Meanwhile, a guy was harassing me, trying to sell me a taxi ride.  I went to the airport Starbucks, fleeing from him, and picked up the phone to listen to my mother's voice message, who, crying, gave me an obscure message. I then listened to my aunt’s recording. With her voice in tears, she told me that Hali had been killed.

I was in shock for a few seconds while in the background the call to pray was heard and I began to mourn. My world was paralyzed right there, and I wanted, without much hope, to be called and told that it was April Fool's Day.

I thought about my aunt, his mother—who is always called flaca because she is quite stylized—and about his wife and children. While I remembered his dad and his sisters, aunts and cousins, his friends and even acquaintances, and anyone else who saw him grow up, I did not stop thinking about his mother.

I lost trace of Hali many years ago. However, while working at the Consulate of Colombia in Miami years ago, I saw him arrive with a stunning blonde woman who had recently given birth. I then had the honor of issuing the birth certificate of their first born, a baby daughter.

He was already a man—or manly, as we say on the Caribbean coast about a kid who grew too fast to be a man. He had finished his career and was more Samarian (a person born in Santa Marta) than coconut water. He looked 100% Arab to me; his profile, his eyebrows, his clothes, and even his mannerisms. He was a gentleman like his dad and well educated by his mom. Hali was already a father and husband; thus, making his parents into grandparents.

Hali was a tireless worker (an inheritance he received from both sides) as his mom is a designer and his dad a banana producer for Dole Fresh Fruit. A very affectionate fellow, he was devoted to his partner—a true family man. Every time I saw him, even after we grew older, I was greeted with the term ‘cousin.’ The term is actively used in the coastal community, even more so among Lebanese countrymen and women.

I have asked myself, selfishly, what happened? The stupid question of why he was killed, as if killing someone has a justification. Morbidly, perhaps, seeking to approve or disapprove the crime. There is no justification and the reasons are absurd. Nothing justifies ending another's life.

We learn in Colombia to make fun of everything, to not value life, and to justify daily acts of violence. We are dehumanized. We have lost the character of Colombians, of the beautiful people we are, of our generosity and solidarity (and we lost this last one a while ago).

Today, Hali leaves behind 3 children, one of them an infant, and a newly started family. He leaves a pair of demoralized parents, two hopeless sisters, and a community hurt and scandalized.

I'm in a taxi on my way to Petra, in Jordan, shedding tears and venting through the phone the post I’m publishing today. I'm sad and sorrowful, and feeling social shame.

Hali will rest in peace because good people go to heaven. From here I pray for his family so that God will give them strength, and for the police—to ensure “Operation of the Padlock” will be a success and they find the assassins.

With a mournful heart,

Instagram: @saluakamerow

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