Music

 

8th October, 2011

 

The window in the middle of that white painted wall overlooks the dark sky where the wind is whistling softly contributing to the miscellaneous musical tones coming out of those instruments. A guitar lies carelessly in the corner. The Candles light dwindle every now and then. I involuntarily close my eyes to endless thoughts when I realize I would lose sight of the passion by which the hands are gripping this unbelievably tiny instrument, I open them, heave a sigh, and a tear escapes my eyes. A first experience is a rebirth to life.

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Reasoning September : A Representational Dilemma

 

 

 

Reasoning September: An attempt of an average Palestinian to Reason the UN statehood bid.

Part One: Representational Dilemma

Here comes September. The long-awaited month has finally arrived and brought with it a severe public controversy over the ramifications of the PA’s proposal for statehood at the UN.

The following is just a simple attempt from an average Palestinian to reason the justifications behind the PA’s unreasonable step.

To claim that an average Palestinian is to take the time to think of the political and legal indications of such a move is to be misleading. An average Palestinian might in fact be the least interested whether a state would be declared in September or not, yet he is the one whose life is most profoundly influenced by the sequences of any hasty act of folly by the PA demonstrated by long history of disappointing actions. This is for sure is not an undermining of the Palestinian’s public political awareness for they are the ones who live the sequences of any step or measure suggested or implemented by the PA. Therefore, they definitely have more priorities than to think of the consequences. They would rather be preoccupied with the struggle to survive the consequences of yet other foolish actions that have been long undertaken by their wise political government.

I will not claim to be objective. I do oppose a September state. However, due to the last controversy over the implications of the state, it dawned on me that, “Maybe, this time I was being unjust to the PA, and maybe there’s this little chance that the PA would do something in the interest of the Palestinians. After all, how unjust and foolish could they go?”

I am a refugee. Who is to represent me?

Amongst those public debates whether this bid would endanger the Palestinians in anyway possible was the discussion over representation. Who Would represent the Palestinians? And whom exactly would this state represent?

Are there any threats jeopardizing the rights of more than 9 million Palestinians of whom only less than half the population lives in the Gaza Strip and the West bank, the territories to be declared as the Palestinian state?

If the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of Palestinians at home and in Diaspora, which is not defined by territory but rather by the Palestinians as a people would be replaced with the Palestinian state contained with the borders of 1967, then what is the destiny of millions of Palestinian refugees living outside the borders? Would they be also part of the Palestine state? Would this declaration affect their inalienable right of return?

the PLO has been representing the Palestinian people, internationally and within the United Nations [UN] since 1965 acting in the name of the totality of the Palestinians whether in Palestine or displaced. The PLO, thus, is already recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian People in the UN, confirming all political rights of the Palestinians including that of self-determination and right of return. If that’s so, why is there a need to replace the PLO with another representative whose authority is going to be territorially controlled and who’s not representative of over half the Palestinian population living elsewhere?

According to the recent opinion of Professor Goodwin-Gill, the Palestinian refugees “constitute more than half of the people of Palestine, and if they are ‘disenfranchised’ and lose their representation in the UN, it will not only prejudice their entitlement to equal representation, contrary to the will of the General Assembly, but also their ability to vocalise their views, to participate in matters of national governance, including the formation and political identity of the State, and to exercise the right of return”

Now, let’s go along with the PA’s claimed assumption that the statehood bid would not lead to such a deadlock as Boyle purport in his response to Goodwin’s memorandum.

What would be the destiny of the refugees of 1948 living within the borders of the coming Palestinian state preoccupying over twenty refugee camps dotted along the Gaza strip and the West bank?

Going back home would not be a legitimate option considering the fact that what lies beyond the 1967 would be recognized as another sovereign Jewish state upon which they have no claims of land or ownership. A return to their homes lying within the Jewish state is impossible. Their right of return is consequently dropped.

For those refugees, would the September state offer any compensations? Or would they grant them full citizenship? Their temporary camps turning into neighbourhoods of the new state and their ruthless conditions into a permanent struggle for life is the cost of the quest for a Palestinian state. They have also to endure living in the conditions of poverty after the “UNRWA”, “Relief and Work agency” reduces or even cuts off the aid upon which thousands of refugee families survive.

Who is to represent me? I did not vote for the PA.

For almost two decades, the PA has been assuming its representation of the Palestinian people based on the Oslo Accords.

The PA, however, falls short of the questions of genuine democratic representation.

The last democratic elections took place over five years ago. Ever since, democratic elections have been ignored and suspended after the last ones have led to the severe fragmentation of both Gaza and the West Bank leaving Palestinians with two governments, both not representative of the total interest and will of the Palestinian people. Therefore, it is no wonder that young Palestinians, who did not practice their fundamental democratic right of enfranchisement and who are aware of the follies of the PA, are shouting very fiercely against it or even calling for dissolving it.

This of course delegitimizes any further step the PA takes on behalf of the Palestinian people, for it is not the real representative of the Palestinian people residing in Gaza and the West Bank, let alone the already disenfranchised population of Palestinians who definitely did not vocalize their votes in favour of a Palestinian Authority in any of the few elections held since Oslo.

Proceeded by the non-representative non-accountable PA, the prospective consequences of the bid are not promising but rather risky. Palestinians, of course are not to blame for untrusting their fragmented leadership after a series of unfolding shocking truths of how the Palestinian cause is being dealt with in the negotiation rooms and how much this leadership is ready to offer or concede.

The fact that the new state is offering no reform of the Palestinian leadership tells how unpromising such a move is. One cannot but imagine the forthcoming state as both unchanged and more fragmented. Therefore, A state that offers nothing new, that is led by the same dissent leadership, that imposes any risk no matter how little on the right of the Palestinians sounds like the very definition of insanity.

To My Dear Stateless Palestinian

My Dear Stateless Palestinian,

They say that the soft wind of September would blow us a State. A Palestinian State. Amongst the fuss, the debates, the arguments, the pleas, my heart cannot but wonder, “Would we be finally brought together by a state?” You, who were born elsewhere and forced to live there; I, who was born and confined here within the borders, within the walls, within the barber wires.

Do you still remember that benevolent smile of yours that mocked my naivety when I wrote to you that I finally got my passport? My Palestinian Passport. You said you are not eligible for one. Held in my hands, my Palestinian Passport was turned into a curse with the words, ” This Passport/ Travel document is issued pursuant to the Palestinian Self Government agreement according to Oslo agreement signed in Washington on 13/9/1993″ inscribed.  Oslo. Damn Oslo! How could they strip you out of what is yours and turn you into a final status negotiations. How could I, a seven-year old swinging in a white dress celebrating their return, not then realize that they would one day bring upon me, upon you, our eternal separation. I could then forgive all of your insults that you’ve never spared when the PA or Arafat were mentioned. I have even enjoyed your polite eloquent offense of a man I once considered a symbol. But, alas, no more.

Could September separate us even more?

Could borders confine us even more?

They say that by September I might no longer spend the night cursing the ever-roaring drones. It would be our air then. With no drones of our own. Not even a plane that might take me to you. They say that I won’t have to calm my sister down every time she wakes screaming in the midnight, for the bombing would stop. Her nightmares won’t. Her memories won’t.

They say we would be an independent people. My mother would no longer be a refugee. She would have to give up every dream of going back to Aqer. My grandmother would stop telling us of her tales of the lost village near Ghazza from which they fled in 1948. She would forget this history. It is no longer hers. She would have to stop telling the story every now and then. She’d eventually die; we would eventually forget, wouldn’t we?

And you would forget about your village. It was called Sandala, wasn’t it ? After all, it is out of the boundaries of your State where you cannot belong.

They also say we would have a president. An anthem. A flag, again. A map. And when I teach my students to draw the map of the State of Palestine, I would have to explain to them why it is fragmented into tens of pieces. Why does it not sound like the Gold Palestine their mothers wear on their chests, embroider with their hands. I would have to explain to them why the State of Palestine is surrounded everywhere by another state called Israel.

Amongst this mess, I wonder if they would remember that you exist somewhere. That you exist everywhere. But not home. Not in the “State”. Would they see you the way I do?

You are my realization of the Palestine that resides beyond the borders; of the millions of the Palestinians I’ve never seen, of the experiences I’ve never felt. The exile. The Diaspora. The hymns of return. The hope.

You are my realization that there could be no “Palestinian State” without you. For this, Stateless we shall both remain.

Yours

Another Stateless Palestinian.

The Epic of A Patient. A Patient Traveler. A Palestinian Patient Traveler.

pa tient noun

1 a person who is receiving medical treatment, especially in a hospital

cancer patients

2 a person who receives treatment from a particular doctor, dentist, etc

He’s one of Dr Shaw’s patients.

© Oxford University Press, 2010

pa tient adjective

~ (with sb/sth)

able to wait for a long time or accept annoying behaviour or difficulties without becoming angry

© Oxford University Press, 2010

“Allah ye’tahom el yahood” Damn Jews! My mother bitterly mumbled, her eyes welled with tears she could no longer hold back. My brother has just finished a call with an officer working in the Rafah Border. The officer assured us what we feared. He told us that my mother, who is holding a medical report to be transferred toEgyptfor treatment, cannot take off to Rafah border unless she had previously registered her name in the Ministry of Interior. She has to wait. Again.

“Why should all doors get closed in my face? I had a glimpse of light. Why should it always fade away in a second?” She began whining, blaming her luck, and roaming her wet eyes around the closed ready bags scattered along the room. I stood helpless. With the mount of news I’ve heard last week, I could not help a bit. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the news of opening the only official border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, I was not less enthusiastic. It was such a relief. Even with the restriction on the movement that took place only two days after the glorious news. It sounded a relief. But, it never does when you are one of the 400 other travelers who’d get turned back or who are denied access or those who have to wait.

I understood how difficult it is to wait. How painful! How tortuous! But, we Palestinians seem to be destined for waiting.

My mother has been waiting for the last two months. It all started three months ago. After the Egyptian revolution and the news about some tremendous changes in the Egyptian regime that might finally lead to relieving the restrictions imposed on about million and a half Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip in the process, my mother thought that maybe this time she could go out  for Egypt to check upon her medical condition without having to go through a tunnel. Yes, she was actually smuggled through a tunnel two years ago for medical treatment. A very longer epic that I hope would not happen again.

However, she discovered that her condition is much dangerous than she actually thought. She needed an urgent medical treatment that might involve a surgery.

Performing her any operation in here was not an option. Yes, like all other Palestinians living inGaza, I have doubts and fears when it comes to treating grave diseases in our hospitals. Not only because of the lack of well-qualified doctors, which is part of the problem, but because of the lack of medical technical equipments denied access into the Gaza Strip for ages.

It sounded like an act of treason. It still does. An Israeli hospital felt like the best option. For days, I couldn’t get the paradox. It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t figure out if I should be grateful to Israel for potentially providing my mother with the medical treatment, or for potentially saving my mother’s life while claiming the lives of hundreds of others.

Getting her a place in a hospital in Jerusalem would be a bless. But when it comes to Jerusalem, things are not that simple or even that human. Getting an appointment in a hospital in Jerusalem was the hard part. Seemingly, my mother was not about to die. God Forbid. Therefore, she has to wait. Again.

While waiting, I romanticized about the time I’d be spending in Jerusalem. I’ve never seen Jerusalem before. This was my chance. I should be escorting my mother during her stay there. What a bliss! The Israelis left me no room for fancy though. I was later informed that I was not allowed to accompany my mother for her treatment in Jerusalem for I was underage. I am 23. I am legally mature, but for Israel I was apparently a potential threat. My hopes for going to Jerusalem were crushed down. My mother’s documents were rejected. She would not go to Jerusalem either.

Last year, I was asked by a journalist whether I remember a time when there were no restriction over movement or when we were able to travel freely. It didn’t take me much time to answer with a “No”. I still remember how we used to celebrate my uncles by making them big banquets every time anyone of them would make it to Gaza in a day or two. While celebrating their victorious effortless 3-day journey of return, we would be chatting of the way the Egyptians, the Israelis and the Palestinians would each treat Palestinian travelers.

If I’d be asked the same question today, looking at the packed bags leaning along the room, I would still answer: No.

A mournful morning

A mournful morning

 15th April, 2011

Just another mournful Friday. All of us were agonized by the news of the abduction of the Italian activist “Vittorio”, spending the whole night anticipating and hoping that morning would bring us the news of his release, confirmed by good friends that there were good signs indicating that he would be freed in the morning. Morning brought us mourning. The first unconfirmed news of his death came at2 a.m. to leave us all speechless, confused, hopeful that it was all a false alarm or that any media source would declare that he was still alive. 2 hours later, it was all confirmed. Vittorio was dead.

“Have you known him personally?” Many have asked me today in the funeral that was held by Gazans in honour of Veteran Vittorio. In fact, I did not meet him in person, the case of so many Palestinians who were there for his funeral today. The first time I saw Vittorio was in the documentary called “To Shoot an Elepahnt” I watched in the first anniversary of the Nakba after which I felt humbled by the role that the International Solidarity movement was playing at that war. Vittorio was amongst the few internationals who refused to leave the Gaza Strip during the Israeli offensive in 2008-2009 and chose to stay under the constant bombing to help injured Palestinians and to spread the truth of what was happening.

And today, while walking among the sad faces welled with tears that gathered to mourn the loss of a brother, of a Palestinian brother, I heard so many more stories of how courageous the man has been. Stories including farmers, fishermen, borders, Israeli soldiers. To know how brave Vittorio was, I only had to look around, and see the agony and anger in the faces of hundreds of People whose voices at its highest pitch was calling for the justice to be served against those brutal criminals. No matter who was behind this vicious crime against humanity, he is not the least Palestinian. I was more than glad to know that other internationals felt the same way, too. Those whom I was fortunate to talk to not only said they were more committed to the cause but also vowed to never give up on Palestine.

For me, Vittorio is every international I met and felt inspired by. He’s the voice of solidarity that shall not fade as long as there is a  just cause called Palestine. He is the voice of humanity that should stay alive all of us.  He is the voice of freedom that shall not be silenced.

Rest in Peace, comrade.

March 15 A Day to Remember

Promises came out that protesters are going to be rather protected. I heaved a long sigh when mother finally gave me a half-satisfied approval on going out. Three days before, she was extremely opposed me going out anywhere on March15. I did not speak of the matter in front of her. After hearing the promises all over the news, she somehow seemed helpless or maybe overwhelmed by how enthusiastic everyone was about the day. March 15 was the day, when we, People from Gaza and the West Bank, would raise our voices for an end of the five-year lasting division. I could not sleep properly that night. All I wanted was to join the young people who have already gathered the day before and planned to stay over for the next day.

I got up unusually early, unusually  alive.

Eager to join the crowds which have already been gathering at the “Unknown Soldier” square, I could not sit still in the class, got downstairs as soon as possible to join friends who’ve been waiting for me to set off for the protest.

Before I start, I would like to say that this is not a post in which I would narrate events. As difficult or rather impossible as it is to rightfully convey the spirit that prevailed this day, all I want to document here is something I’d  like to remember as a great day in my life as a Palestinian.

The day started very unpromising as to my surprise, and to everyone else’, there in the University Campus where the Students’ Council was planning to join in the protest were some unusual flags raised along with the Palestinian flag. A green flag tied to the Palestinian flag. This was not a real good sign or a good start for a day where we all have previously agreed to put behind all our factional flags and raise nothing but the Palestinian flag.

It was time to set off. We were a group of almost ten girls and we marched together from the University to the Jundi Square. On the way, I could hear the chanting for ending the division coming from a distance and all around.

Around us, people were all heading to the same destination. “The Unknown Square”, calling for the same things, “Ending the Division”

When we reached the square, the crowd was already huge. Thousands were standing; others were marching. People were watching. Some were even dancing. Signs calling for an end of the division were everywhere around. You could read it upon a wall, on a bus, on a peddler selling ice-cream, on cabs, on leaflets, on faces, and hands. Everywhere. Palestinian flags where held by little children, by men, women, old and young.

Overwhelmed by the beauty of the scene of a demonstration where along my sight I could see nothing but the Palestinian flag, hear nothing but Palestine’s name, I could not but be totally involved as everyone else who like me were chanting, walking proud, holding up their Palestinian flag, their voice at its highest, their hearts hopeful for a unity that this demonstration proved every Palestinian, regardless of his favourite colour, is eager to have back. For almost two hours, we walked amongst the crowd, marching along the bustling square. The feeling, I am afraid, I am not willing to convey through words.

Amidst the beauty of the scene rose that unusual green flag tied to the Palestinian. Confused, I still cannot figure out how I should interpret its immense presence. I still cannot understand why holding a Palestinian flag is not enough! And honestly, I think of it as an absurd attempt to prove the Hamas presence while none has denied them the right to. The demonstration was aimed at calling to end division. It aimed not at ending the presence of any party.

Apparently, I was not the only one who thought in the same way because all of a sudden the crowds raising high the Palestinian flag started yelling out, “The People want the Palestinian flag” every time they would see someone or some group holding any flag for any party. It was then I realized how people are fed up with any kind of fanaticism to one’s party. If we to be fanatic, then it’s for the sake of Palestine. If we to be angry, then for the sake of Palestine. If we to be united, it’s for the sake of Palestine.

With the crowds, we started to move to Katiba Square, leaving behind any crowd that is trying to factionalize the protest. There where a large Palestinian flag was dangling from a building, I could sense it back. The eagerness to unite under one flag. The eagerness to leave behind all differences and unite for Palestine. There, the spirit of youth prevailed. There, young people declared that they are staying and not leaving till the two governments at Gaza and the West Bank would practically end this shameful division. I left the square planning to come back at night to be later informed that they were forced to leave the square.

I am not going to speak of all the violations that Hamas forces have committed against the young hopeful Palestinians whose sole noble aim was to end the fragmentation of their country. The PA forces and thugs at the West Bank were by no means any better. The protesters in the West Bank too had their share of beating, arrest, and humiliation.

I will only speak of the youth determination that I saw that day and the next days. I will speak of the eagerness I sensed in people to end the current state of division. I will speak of hope arousing from such youth. I will speak of this and believe in the Palestinian will in the days to come.

“Attending” “Not Attending” “Maybe”?

Pressing the “Attending” icon on Facebook for the past year has started to be habitual. Very habitual that I do not really consider whether I would be able to attend or not as long as I support the event or feel an eagerness to attend it. Then I will attend it- hypothetically- even if it is taking place elsewhere in the world. This gives me a sense of satisfaction, the feeling that I am kind of participating in the event, hypothetically participating.

But never have I been so hesitant to decide on an event as that of the 15th March. I’ve been asked over and over again of what I think of the upcoming event that has been taking place so far, I would keep silent.

Every time I log into facebook, I find the event awaiting for me to decide whether I’m going to be “Attending” or “Not attending” or “Maybe attending”. I open the page, look at the number increasing every day, every hour, every minute, feel an urge to press the attending button and then I feel reluctant again.

For the past five years, I’ve been wanting nothing more than an end of this shameful division. My whole life, at least that which I still remember, I hated the fact that people should be infiltrated with any party. For all of my life, I have tried to be a Palestinian, no more- still failed at some points.

But, isn’t that my opportunity to be a Palestinian? Isn’t it the proper time that I would go out, chant, and raise my voice amongst other voices and hearts  as longing as I am to end the current status of fragmentation which is rendering a whole nation in face of a vicious occupying power, fragmented? Haven’t we had enough of political agendas that have achieved us nothing? Aren’t we disappointed, enraged, and fed up enough of all the disgusting facts which have been revealing themselves lately? Are we going to allow more concessions from an authority- two authorities in fact- that have never represented the whole Palestinian People, and will definitely not as long as they sustain their current policies?

But, the whole spontaneity of the event is freaking me out.

This could be an act of cowardice. Fear, maybe. A natural feeling, isn’t it? Should I be ashamed of it? I do not think so. Fear, as one of my friends put it, is what makes us human.

Still afraid but hopeful, today I should finally press that button. Another Palestinian added to the thousands attending the 15th March

And I Witness History

At those precise precious moment of victory and pride when my eyes welled with tears of joy witnessed again another greater Arab revolution, my heart was dancing and my tongue chanting the first poem I learned at school here in Gaza, “Beladi, Beladi, Beladi”, the Egyptian national anthem.

The lines were amongst the first revolutionary lines I learned at a time where the Egyptian curriculum was taught in Gaza schools. I was taught to love Egypt before I was taught to love Palestine. I cherished the Nile though I never drank of its water. I loved the Pyramids which greatness I have not yet witnessed.

For years, I have repeated the Egyptian anthem over and over again along with the Palestinian national anthem. Back then, I thought there was never really that revolutionary spirit the history books celebrated. Today, Egypt has just taught me another lesson for which I should feel grateful. Today, I am only humbled to know that what we’ve studied back then in history books were not only some “legendary” nonsense

Make the Lie Big

When I was a child, there was that story they used to tell to warn us from the consequences of lying. “Do not be a liar”, my teacher warned us over and over again, or else no body would believe you. “Do not play tricks on people” They repeated. “You’ll end up drowning”. “Do not fake the role of the wolf’s victim. Someday, people would just get fed up and you’ll end up losing it all.”

Now, I wonder how long they would keep faking it and run away with it. How long would the world believe their continuous lies? The Moral Army? The Democracy? I still do not have the slightest idea on whom I should place the blame, though. Should I blame the mainstream media for taking the side of the oppressor? Or should I blame the “ordinary reader” for being “uncritical”.

Pardon my rudeness. I do think I am still under the effect of that devastating seminar on the “New York times coverage of the Second Intifada” that I attended this week after which I concluded that maybe one day I would die and my death would simply be reported as “Collateral Damage”. How devastating is that?

The past week could not pass unnoticed.

The whole world has heard and watched the news of the death of “Jawaher Abu Rahma” last Friday in a demonstration in Beli’n . Her death was followed by debates whether she died of inhaling gaz or not.

For me, all those spokespersons, reports, and medical investigations that took place to justify the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma seemed absurd.  I do not care whether she had an asthma or not, whether she died of inhaling gas or not. She did die, protesting. Had not any one wondered why would a 36-year old Palestinian woman with some “medical complications” as claimed leave her house on a Friday to shout in a protest, knowing that she would absolutely put her life in danger? How critical a reader should be to realize what this Palestinian woman stands for?

His wife clutches to a photo of his with a bloody red background that matches the red colour of her husband’s blood stained all over the white blankets and walls. Omar Al Qawasmi, 63, was already dead when he got to the hospital. He did not inhale some gas at a protest. He was not protesting. He was peacefully sleeping when he was shot by Israeli soldiers who broke into his house in the peaceful hours of dawn. His wife was praying.

With several bullets in the upper part of his body, it would have been absolute absurdity declaring his death a result of some “medical complications”.

Those soldiers, who mercilessly headed their guns towards the old man lying in his bed, unarmed, shieldless but of a blanket to protect him from the frigid cold, must have not thought about how much harm they would cause the image of “the moral army”.

What followed were voices of regret from the “Most Moral Army” over the cold-blood murder of an old man.

They might have the power to fake the most blatant of lies. We have the truth at our side.

So far, the boy will keep running to tell his false story. But, one day the world would eventually realize “there was no wolf”.

8th January, 2011

I Survive


“I want to survive”

I unconsciously replied to my big brother’s question. He did not expect such an answer to his inquiry on what I wanted him to get me from the supermarket before it gets dark, before hell would break again that night as it usually did every night at the same time. He laughed, bitterly. I did not.

It took me some time to realize that still then, I was surviving. After what seemed a long time, I still survived. It was a miracle to survive the nights. It wasn’t the same in the morning, but at night every thing went loose. Our house would be lighted every now and a while by a near bomb, but then the light we’ve missed for a while at night was of no use to us as staying up in our third-floor apartment was just an act of craziness. Here, one could definitely get shot any second. It was too close. The war was too close I couldn’t believe I’m still surviving. Here, you wouldn’t know when a bullet finally rests at your heart or chest or your eye, or a shell just tears you all apart. It was definitely crazy at night. Night was the time for evacuation, or shall I call it displacement? Leaving our house was never optional. It’s either you die or you leave the house to survive, which again was not guaranteed as you might leave the house to find that bullet waiting to rest in your heart as well. But, we had to go down anyway.

It was about sunset now. I could hear it begin again. I could hear it begin as every night at the same time and I would grab my mattress, my pillow, and my blankets, with the voice of my mother urging me to hurry. “It’s no time to be an obtuse” she would say, and I would discover that she was right as she always is, for I would have to crawl to go downstairs with not a bit of light on the stairs and with that luggage in my hands, in my pockets, on my head and covering me all around. I would crawl and cry. I’ve never paid much attention to history before and I so much hated history classes, but every time I would get downstairs seeing my mother, my father, brothers and sister with the luggage they could collect; most of which was not important, I could not but recall my late grandmother’s talk about the way she left her home. I thought we’re destined to displacement.

The downstairs room was not as clean or as wide as own lighted well-cleaned house. It was fine but bitterly cold. Somehow, my father thought it’s safer. My mother had to obey. It seemed to me that for this time, she was going to let him decide where we shall spend the night. Desperate, she would let him decide where we shall die. She could not. She was courageous though or acting so. She refused to get out of the house completely. I Thought I would never hear her say so, but she courageously refused to leave the house, and she repeated what I for once thought a cliché “I want to die at home.” My brother, terrified to death by the news of a close bombardment to a neighbour’s house, started crying, shouting at her face. “I don’t want to die”, he pleaded. Back then, I shamefully thought of how selfish of her to sacrifice all of her children for the sake of an old cliché and an older house. But, she was a refugee. She knew what it’s like to leave home. She knew the guilt she would feel when time passes by. That I knew later. I remember that her mother died, wishing she never left home.

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.

Cold were those dark nights, sometimes terribly loud, frighteningly loud that I wished for some silence. That I could not get with the old radio my mother kept in her pocket day and night, tuned on. Was it her curiosity that made her listen to every single piece of news? Was she hopefully waiting they would announce the end of the war soon? As tortuous as it was, I was thankful electricity was off. Listening to my aunt crying heavily on the telephone and asking us to persevere, I knew that I have missed a lot. I heard the radio say a family was massacred the other day. I heard they say they demolished a whole neighbourhood, sometimes on the head of its inhabitants. I heard them announce figures of children, women, and men killed. I even heard some people calling and screaming for the help of the Red Crescent. Yet, I knew nothing. I’ve seen nothing of it.

“War would end soon. Perhaps it ends tomorrow. They say so.”

“You said so yesterday and the day before, and every day, father” I mutter, not caring.

The next day, the bombardment was faintly heard. There were still some warplanes around. But most importantly, electricity was back. TV was turned on again. In fact, we knew nothing, we’ve seen nothing. The last 23 days started passing in pictures and voice into the screens. I was not on TV. None of my family was. I survived a war while more than a thousand of my people did not. I survived a war not because I was a hero, but…

A war ago, I wouldn’t have thought about writing this, about writing anything. Today, trembling, recalling, I find it an obligation to write the details of it no matter how trivial it might sound for I have to survive; we shall survive.

Sameeha Elwan

26th December, 2010