Achieving Gaza’s dreams shouldn’t require a miracle

It is hard to remain positive among all the destruction in Gaza. 

Naaman Omar APA images

I woke up on a Friday morning and I felt terrible. Like I wanted to die.

It took me a long time to make contact with members of my family.

For four hours I locked myself in my room.

I just wanted to go to the sea and have a cup of coffee.

I miss seeing my mother and the way she looks at me. I miss my dad calling me “my lovely daughter” and asking how I am.

I used to be full of energy. Everything is different now.

I am gloomy all the time.

Four angry walls surround my soul.

I am writing these words with tears in my eyes.

I am writing these words not to burden you but because I need to release my emotions. I cannot keep them inside.

I feel like a bird trapped in a prison.

Poisonous thoughts

One recent morning, I urged my sister-in-law Wedad to join me for a walk. She agreed.

We walked across farmland and fixed our eyes on the sky. For half an hour we stood, with a sense of helplessness.

“Look how Israel’s brutal occupation has tainted our lives,” I said. “Even nature is no longer safe.”

Wedad told me she felt like she was “drowning in depression.”

I feel much the same. I despise the poisonous thoughts in my head these days.

In my conversation with Wedad, I entertained one particularly dark idea: that Israel would make me leave Gaza.

At an early age, I rejected the notion of emigration. I love my homeland and could not bear to be separated from my family, friends and cherished memories.

But Gaza has now been transformed into rubble. Nobody can emerge safely from this hell.

Israel has killed tens of thousands. Innocent people.

Why? What did they do?

They just wanted to breathe, grow older, build a better future for themselves and their children, attain freedom and live in their own land.

Our dreams are valid. Achieving them should not require a miracle.

“The war will end”

Wedad and I stopped looking towards the sky and resumed walking.

“If we come back to Gaza, we won’t drive to the sea,” I said. “Instead, we will be able to see it directly because there are no more houses, hospitals, mosques or universities.”

Refaat Alareer wrote, “Sometimes a homeland becomes a tale. We love the story because it is about our homeland, and we love our homeland even more because of the story.”

A fabulous poem by Mahmoud Darwish reads:

The war will end
And leaders will shake hands
That old woman will keep waiting for her martyred son.
And those children will keep waiting for their hero father.
I don’t know who sold our homeland
But I saw who paid the price.

I needed another walk. My husband agreed to come with me.

We were silent at first so I said, “Hey, I cannot stand walking with a grumpy man. I asked you to join me so that we could talk and laugh.”

He smiled.

The smile did not last. My husband showed me some of the latest destruction which Israel has caused.

It made for a chilling sight.

My husband asked about how I was feeling. Emotionally.

He encouraged me to open up my heart.

It was a long time since I had received such encouragement.

So I spoke about my desires.

I want to study for a master’s degree, to work, to see my family, to visit the seashore with friends, to finish reciting the Quran with my teacher at the mosque, to sit on my sofa with coffee and watch movies.

We all love Gaza.

One day we will rebuild it. Brick by brick.

We will never lose hope.

One day Gaza will be free.

Batoul Mohamed Abou Ali graduated recently from the Islamic University of Gaza.