Gaza Two Years Later is a series of posts by Gazan bloggers and writers reflecting on the two-year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008/09. Special thanks to Mohammed Rabah Suliman and Laila El-Haddad for helping connect us to the amazing writers we featured. All posts are listed below:
My Mom suddenly stopped singing and stopped calmly feeling my hair. Her hand also stopped shaking. She was keeping me on her lap, trying to keep me warm in that cold night. It was too dark that I could barely see her face. She was very warm, but she gradually lost that comforting heat. I tried to keep it, so I covered her with the small blanket she was covering me with and I stayed in her lap. Some minutes passed; however, she didn't continue singing, and her body kept going colder. There was so much going on outside. I could hear a man weakly weeping. I thought she was listening to the sounds outside trying to know what was happening.
The nights were dark and cold at that room. And when all would decide to stop talking, and try to sleep, I would start reading. Solaced by one and only one book that I kept reading over and over again, my mother, taking notice that I, unlike the others did not pretend to sleep, would start rebuking me every time she sees me holding the book so close to my eyes with one hand while the other holding a candle. “Are you planning to die burnt? Wait for your fate.” It was then I grew that fascination for Darwish, his “She is a song” was such a great relief. He, too, lived a war. He, too, wanted to survive to sing her a song and to make a cup of morning coffee. How many wars have we witnessed so far? Why didn’t the word cause me to tremble before as I’m trembling now? Perhaps it’s only cold.
In wars, dawn is a sign
a sign of survival,
a sign that you are still alive
5 pm, sundown,
the drums of death
begins to sound…
Strangers weep through waves
then Children, women… bodies
then exploding silence…
The Earth woke peacefully, by Mohammed Rabah Suliman. Suliman, 21, is a student of English Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. He blogs at http://msuliman.wordpress.com/.
Two years later, when I look back on it now, I cannot but severely chide myself for the selfishly devised system by which I lived through the war. Though it spared my life and, and by sticking to its oppressive minutes, I was stopped from going mad, I was undoubtedly egoistical and awfully inconsiderate to the suffering of others. Not that I was not a direct victim of war, plagued with all sorts of traumatic suffering on top of my relentless psychological struggle. From 5:00 pm, the moment I was to be abandoned by everybody else (socializing in war was by far the best procedure everybody took up to survive together, and in case death was in prospect, die together), I left alone despairingly fighting back all vicious thoughts and images that assailed my already wearied mind. The would last until dawn when, consumed by fear and grief, I would fall asleep.
The world has come to recognize our plight, by Mohammed Said AlNadi. AlNadi, 23, lives in Gaza andworks as translator and freelance journalist.
While there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, I think the issue of Gaza is far more important than being a charity case. People often think that in Gaza people are living humanitarian drought; and what I’m really afraid of is that they are losing the essence of the endeavor of breaking the siege and bringing justice and peace. The people of Gaza don’t need food, they crave freedom—the ability to rub shoulders with the world and to be able to travel and see the world, get better lives and medical treatment, and have good education abroad.
War is never over, by Sarah Ali. Ali,19, is a second-year student of English literature at the Islamic University, Gaza.
I am sick of attempting to be objective. I don't want to be "objective" anymore. I want to be Palestinian. I want to be a mere Gazan. That's who I actually am, and that's what I would have liked to be had I been something else. I want to keep talking about the war. I don't want to "let it go" because it still hurts. It will always.
I didn't even know if my eyes were open.
After a big mess everything seemed so calm I could sense the dust covering my face, the only part I could feel. I could feel my breath hitting one of the bricks of my room's floor. Air found its way through everything surrounding my body. Silence was all I could hear.
I waited 23 days to cry, and two years to write by Fidaa Abu Assi. Abu Assi, 22, is an English Literature graduate from the Islamic University of Gaza. She blogs at http://fidaa.me/.
When it was over, I could fake my resilience no more. I do remember that two nights after the war, I woke up to find myself crying heavily. That time I hadn’t fought back my tears. I simply couldn’t. I wanted to release all my pent-up emotions so I broke down in tears. I could no longer contain myself. My mum was awakened by my pathetic sobs. So anxious was she that she didn’t know what she had to do. She took me in her warm lap trying to soothe away my fear. Clutching her arm, I bitterly wept. With bated breath she asked “have you waited 23-days to cry?” I didn’t know under what categories I should have classified my tears. Tears of survival? Tears of suppression? Tears of injustice? Tears of negligence? I didn’t care. I became better off since then, however.
The roof of my house, by Sarah Ali. Ali,19, is a second-year student of English literature at the Islamic University, Gaza.
I wish I could one day go up to sit in the roof and to find that nothing had changed. I am waiting for the day when I go up to find my cousin and his fellows playing marbles. I am waiting for the day when I find the tank leaking and the lawn under it getting green. I am waiting for the day when I find the pigeons' chamber standing where my father had once built it. I believe I will one day find the roof as lovely as it has always been. I don't know how or when, but I feel it's coming, and I know how naïve this sounds.
One of the things that are carved in my memory is when I thought that my best friend, Hala, died. We were up all night long that night listening to the radio; the Israeli troops had invaded Tal Alhawa where she lives, and they got so close to her house. According to the radio, the situation was severe in that area; constant shelling and evacuating. They mentioned all the places around her house, and even our flat in Tal Alhawa. It was 3 a.m. when I called her, but no answer; I tried to call on the landline, but no answer; her cell phone, no answer. I, then, called all of her family members’ cell phones, they were either off or no one would answer. I got really anxious. I kept calling and calling and I didn’t even sleep. I forgot all about the bombing around my house even!
There is nothing that tastes as beautiful as reading in the dark, by Mohammed Rabah Suliman. Suliman, 21, is a student of English Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. He blogs at http://msuliman.wordpress.com/.
“I just take it as a challenge, the louder the bomb, the more engrossed in my book I become; the more intense the shooting, the more pages I’m determined to read. And they just lose.”