A new daybreak as I hold my pen now. So calm and peaceful are the early morning hours I wish they could extend a bit longer so my mind and body can absorb the pure invigorating morning breeze and my eyes can be tickled by the soft dew drops hanging from the leaves, and the sweet singing of birds who peck at my windows gently to boast that they’re always the early risers.
Glancing at the sky from my living room sofa takes me to faraway places. Places which actually exist yet have been concealed from the human eye until the time comes. The unseen world of spirits where martyrs are living in the eternal Paradise (Jannah) above make my mind ponder pensively.
Over four years back, I decided to enroll in a one year diploma at the Islamic University of Gaza. It had been nine years since I was student. I dearly missed hoarding stationery and attending classes. So I walked into the Continuing Education Center to sign up. The secretary was a young gentleman who assisted me throughout the registration process, his name was Sharaf. A month or so passed and I was actually sitting on my student chair learning again. Nine months passed and on Tuesday Dec. 25th, 2008 I was taking an exam “Legal Translation”. Sharaf was monitoring the exam. The test was quite challenging and I could feel my eyes almost popping from the heat I felt as every cell of my brain was laboring intensively. At one point, I was overcome with relief when I found the word “alimony” translated since it was very unlikely any student would have been able to guess its meaning. Some of the students started to make remarks and asked Sharaf questions just out of despair and to which he replied jokingly: “I think you’ll need a marriage official to answer that for you”.
Four days later, war was declared over Gaza with the unanticipated 60 air strikes throughout Gaza Strip. The Israeli warplanes devastated Gaza with blood, destruction and grief from above and on the ground. Twenty two days passed and it was time to restart our lives as an obligation to move on with our lives. So I called up the Center to enquire about the resumption of classes. I talked to an employee and asked if everyone was ok and his words seeped into my heart: “Sharaf has left us”. Twenty two days of grief and horror had had their toll on me physically and emotionally, and so hearing that piece of news quickly recalled those images of corpses piled over each other on the first air strike on the Police Academy in Gaza and I just pictured him there. He had indeed died during the first few strikes and just gone to a better place, an eternal one with no toil or pain. He was one among tens and hundreds who got killed by the Israeli war planes and later became a figure in the Gaza War death count, but he must have been special to those who loved him.
This guy’s death and many other people I came across made me reflect on something very special; which is how we meet people in our lives yet we don’t know how much time we will actually spend with them. It is always better to keep that in mind so we can treat people with great respect and love. So one day when we are gone, they will proudly say: She was a wonderful person who made a difference in my life or she always greeted us with a smile. This will also make us think twice before hurting or backbiting at someone, because if suddenly they’re gone, how can we ever forgive ourselves for the damage we inflicted on them.
As I finish off this post, I pray from my heart that Allah may give comfort and peace to the families of every martyr who fell on the holy soil of Palestine and elsewhere in the world.
Gaza War… Indelible Memories
When the horrific war was over, I realized that I had been transformed into another person. My thoughts and reflexes went through a kind of turbulence. I tried to convince myself that the war was actually over. The credibility of that fact was hard to instill into my head. I developed these idiosyncrasies. I would have the TV remote control in my hand switching between news channels all day, as if it gave me the sense of security I needed. When the clock approached 10:00 P.M and it was almost time for Aljazeera news, the TV was off limits for everyone but me. The radio, which I had rarely held importance for, was a leading member of the family now. I couldn’t lie down on the sofa; I had to be alert at all times. I should never dare to look out the windows, one should anticipate impending danger. I would keep a good look at the clock and calendar and count the time and days. I pacify myself that soon it will all be over and nothing but……. horrible memories will be left. I forgot to remind myself that there will always be a scar; a permanent lasting scar that time can never heal. Images of the dead, decapitated, maimed and burned are engraved in my head. People crying for help, but remain unanswered. They either await death, or another attack to put an end to that black moment where everything seems to be falling down and the world coming to an end. But these are the thoughts and feelings of a grownup. But, have you ever wondered what the psychology of a child had to bear during those deplorable days and nights? The innocent minds of children only understand two things: Eat and play. Anything else is an impostor. How can they be expected to understand with their small minds that their lives are at stake? In ordinary life, they easily defy their parents by refusing anything they don’t like. But now they have no choice. At night, when I tucked my kids into bed, my heart would sink and pray that the hours to come are safe and sound. When morning rose, I’d feel temporary relief that the darkness was gone. When the war broke out, I was devastated to realize the hard facts. The facts were that a ruthless war was being launched onto a tiny part of the world called Gaza. The International Community was complicit in that savage war launched against a helpless and bled dry nation. Was there no drop of humanity or compassion in the hearts of so-called leaders or decision makers, or any gut to say NO to Israeli and its complicit crime initiator, the US? Is our blood that trivial and worthless to them? Have the cries of our children and sobs of our bereaved mothers become a routine spectacle of the misfortunate and forsaken? Our Prophet (Peace be upon him) said in a Hadith while performing tawaf around the Holy Kaba: “ …. the sanctity of a believer’s blood and property in the sight of Allah is greater than your sanctity!” Yes, to all the relentless villains who have set the mad dogs loose upon us: Our blood is sacred and your retribution is yet to come. Your state was built with the slaughtering of Palestinian men, women and children and you hailed it Independence Day. Villages forcefully evacuated and people massacred in broad daylight where Killing was the only way to conquer and establish your Zionist state. The midnight vampires and satanic allies aided your venture with all heart and have remained so loyal and stalwart to justifying the murder of children playing outside their homes or on the roofs of their houses.
The hope in the hearts of my people and their unwavering faith is the fountain that feeds their souls with life and determination to go on. Our hearts are in our Maker’s hands only and no human being may have any means to kill the power they hold within. The path we’ve chosen is not dead-ended, it leads to two very distinct destinations: to live in dignity or die in dignity