“Your job is not to judge nor to doubt. Your job is to give,” father said to his son who frowned upon homeless people for shamelessly begging for a living. He never turned down a worker’s or street cleaner’s invitation to a meal. He sat down with them on the street in his expensive suit even for a couple of bites and secretly left money under the plate before he thanked them for the food and left.
The former Libyan officer was dispatched to the U.N. headquarters as a diplomat after getting discharged against his will. He witnessed a horrible accident on his first day of work in New York where a man on his bike was hit by a large truck. Instead of passing by the tragedy, he gathered the flesh and the bones scattered around on the street and “left them on the body of the dead with respect.” It was his way of paying respect to life.
Gaddafi who came into power through a coup would not leave someone like him alone. After abducting him from his house in Cairo, Egypt, the Gaddafi regime locked him up in the Abu Salim prison in 1990, citing dissident activities as a reason. This was the last time his wife and two sons saw him. It is assumed that he was probably killed in the 1996 massacre of about 1,200 political prisoners at the prison, but the regime never gave his body to the family, depriving them of the opportunity to grieve and and be grieved. During the 42-year rule, what Gaddafi and his regime lacked was dignity.
He is the father of novelist Hisham Matar who wrote “In the Country of Men” and won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize with his memoir “The Return.” “The Return” traces his decades-long painful journey looking for his father. The book probably has provided some comfort for the author for his father is still alive in it.