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Gaza war diary: Bitter reality, bitter dreams

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This article is from the author’s War Diary, written during Israel’s 51 day attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014:

I just woke up from a strange and bizarre dream. Today is the 18th day of the war on Gaza. It’s 4am, Thursday July 24th, 2014. I found myself sitting at the edge of my bed, trapped in a state between dreams and reality. As I fight to get back to reality, I feel the pull and allure of the dream get stronger and stronger. I caught myself uttering: Candy, Candy, Candy, I want more candy! Just then, a large shadowy hand descended and clasped onto my throat and squeezed.

Just as the pressure started to intensify and I thought I couldn’t hold on much longer, a sudden release and gasp of air knocked me back to reality. Did that just happen? And if it did, why was it hazy and foggy and so far removed from reality? Another dream, yes that’s it, must be another dream. Images started flooding into my head in sporadic and random fashion as I struggled to piece it all together in my head. I was in a frantic and erratic state, pacing around the house when I saw the bowl of sweets on the table. I ate all the sweets, inhaled it as if it were air and I was just drowning. But I still wasn’t satisfied. I ran to the fridge and opened the door. To my horror there were no sweets in sight. A wave of frustration and anger overcame me and I yelled out “Mother! Where are all the sweets!” At first there was no response. So I yelled again, this time even louder. My mother hurried to the frenzied cries and came upon a shocking scene.

I started rummaging through the fridge. Flinging and throwing things left and right. Nothing was safe, Lettuce smashed against the walls, tomatoes rolled on the kitchen floor. I was crazily digging like somebody excavating a new grave. Finally, I reached what I was looking for. It was as if I had found the holy grail. A flawless and untouched box of sweets. I don’t know how long it’s been there, and frankly didn’t care to give it much thought. I ripped the top open and started gobbling up the candy at a frightening pace. It was as if I had become possessed, I didn’t know my mouth could open up so wide. In all the excitement and chaos, I hadn’t felt my mother wrap her arms around me to restrain me. She yelled. “Nesma! Nesma! What has gotten into you, why are you eating all this candy?”

My eyes were dull and sunken like an addict going through remission. I couldn’t care less about my mother’s retorts at that moment. I just wanted more sweets. I broke free of my mother’s grasp and dashed to the kitchen cupboards and drawers. I ripped them open one by one. There were no sweets to be found.

The ominous hand once again appeared and lunged for my throat, I felt my body cringe and yearn for sweets. The dark hand started to become more visible. And the more my body wanted sweets the more it was unveiled. The hand was grotesque. It was wrinkled and the dirty, nails were black. It finally grabbed my throat with immense force.

It was yesterday afternoon I received the dreadful news. My best friend’s brother, Hasan, was now a martyr. He is survived by three little girls. The youngest, not even 2 years old yet. He wasn’t given adequate time to be a father to her. To look in her eyes and give unconditional love, to hug her, to spoil her, to raise her. At least let him live just one more year to give his children a proper farewell. Three little angels robbed of their fathers love in an instant, is there a greater crime?

My throat started to tighten up and become abrasive. As if I had just swallowed a cactus. How should I approach my friend? How can I possibly comfort her? Should I smile and tell her he is in God’s hands now and one day we will see him again? Or should I break down and cry with her, embrace her and tell her to be patient for this world is cruel and not to waste her tears on it. For Hasan would not want her to be lost in sorrow. I am at a loss for what I should do.

I have finally realized that what I have experienced was truly a dream and why it had occurred that night. My soul was aching, and my lust for sweets was an attempt to sooth the bitterness in my heart. But all the sweets in the world would still not be enough to erase the cruelty, strife, and bitterness in our hearts.

In the dream I searched for anything sweet, anything beautiful to comfort myself and my friend. But there was no earthly thing that can ease our pain. The bitter taste remains in our mouths, it was Hasan who found the sweet taste of liberty and joy in heaven.

Nesma Seyam

Nesma Seyam is a journalist/interpreter and fixer based in Gaza, Nesma is a contributer to The Electronic Intifada and Palestine Chronicle. Follow her on Twitter @Nesma_Seyam.

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One Response

  1. Boomer on July 30, 2016, 2:56 pm

    Beautifully written, terribly sad.

    Sad for Americans too, for, as we were told in another recent post here at this site, “there is no other place in the world where Americans bear so much responsibility for what happens.”

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