Sounds from the war knock on our memory (2009)

My story evolves during the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip. These are examples of people, fathers, children, that lost their parents. Unexpectedly killed. Anyone can die at any given moment. house is bombarded to the ground. They are looking for their sister through the rubble of the house.

Six months ago already, and I try to reminisce my fear about the return of the Israeli aggression. I ignore my feelings and don’t think anymore. I want to forget all that has happened. But the feelings were too strong. The sentiments entwine my pen.

After a long silence, which lasted months, I have the feeling that I am ready again, to think about all that happened. Now I can better accept that I am writing about it. I remember that I heard the blasts of the rockets. Everywhere. It seemed as if they were trying to set ablaze the entire Gaza Strip. They burned everything. A little girl was standing next to me, waiting for her father at the school entrance, but her father wasn’t coming. His office at work had been bombarded, and she was left there, still waiting. A mother dropped of her son at the kindergarten, but ended up seeing her daughter getting killed in front of her eyes. She lost her mind.

These stories you will find in every Palestinian family. Those whose bodies were not burned, got burned in their minds. The fear is bigger than man can tolerate.

I was at my job when I heard several explosions, shortly after each other, as I heard children scream. Louder and louder. That’s when the aggression started. The first thing they did was to bombard the electricity plant, and darkness embraced us. This was the case for days in a row. The Gaza Strip is bereft of light and water. I’m frightened. There are many dead. Between the bombardments and death, many people, constrainedly, walk for miles, just to get a gallon of water. Driving by car is extremely dangerous. The Israeli aggression does not spare the lives of the weak or young.

I needed a shower, but the scarceness impeded such waste of precious water. I was afraid I would die without having prayed. I needed a shower because I was on my period. The water was so scarce even lustration wasn’t possible. That’s why I decided to visit my sister. I took the risk to go there, despite the unbearable sounds in the streets. I went to the middle of the Gaza Strip, after I had heard there were fewer problems with water and electricity. Finally I arrived safe and sound at my sister’s place. At first, everything was calm here. They still had electricity. I spent the whole day at my sister’s. I prayed to God a lot, and begged Him to keep me safe. In times of war we shall always be different people.

We heard the bombardments creeping ever closer. We decided to return home, after I had convinced my sister to join me. Us sisters would be confronted by death separately. On our way, we came across friends who asked us to spend the night with them. It was a terrible night. We couldn’t close our eyes. There were too many bombs, which appeared intended to keep us deprived of sleep indefinitely. In the morning, I couldn’t believe we were still alive. It was true. We weren’t dead. Our bodies were unharmed. But the blasts of the rockets killed us a hundred times that night. We died a hundred times that night. Death was eerily close. It was breathing in our jugulars.

Why am I here with my sister and her children? We weren’t safe, and we were in doubt as where to go next. We decided to go to a shelter for people whose houses had been destroyed. In front of our eyes, we saw a car, on its way to the hospital, exploding. Every night, we sleep with the sound of explosions, designed to turn our nights into nightmares.

Eventually, the war stopped. How, when, for what, to whom, I do not know. After three weeks of expectation, silence and plights to God, I returned to the house of my father. He couldn’t believe we were still alive and that we had survived the aggression. My sister’s husband told us that tanks had destroyed our house and everything we owned. My sister didn’t cry, but decided to go to there, despite the risks. We went there and everything was in ruins. Below the debris there was, nevertheless, something positive. She lost everything, but she won herself and her children.

In a war, we will always lose something.

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