My children ask about death and destruction

A boy looks into the distance while crying

Everyone is mourning in Gaza, here by the morgue in Deir al-Balah.

Bashar Taleb APA images

I started writing in 2014 when I turned 23.

This was during Israel’s aggression that year. I wrote an article entitled “Memoir of a war survivor.”

I continued to write memos during and after the aggression describing my feelings, thoughts, and my journey to self-healing.

Writing for me became very connected to Israeli aggressions. It was a way to release some of the stress and pain I felt.

It was also a soft voice that speaks of the inner war that we live during and after each aggression and the human suffering away from politics.

It was very useful and was always a relief to sharpen vague feelings and suffering into written words.

This time, it’s taking so much of my energy to even try writing. I can barely find time and space to think and decide what to write and how.

I feel speechless.

I became speechless on several occasions.

When I had to evacuate with my family three times in less than 48 hours, twice at 4 AM, when my little children were sleeping and I woke them up terrified from their temporary beds and ran into the street to save our lives.

When I had to evacuate for a fourth time from al-Karama, the neighborhood where I live in northern Gaza, to the south, leaving everything behind as if it never existed.

When I was connected to the internet for the first time in weeks and saw videos of people who had literally lost everything and everyone.

Every day I hear news about the martyrdom of friends and colleagues. I lost Bilal, Ahmad, Majd, Muhammed, and mourned the loss of other friends’ family members.

I have no answers to my children’s questions: Is our home bombed? When will we return to our home?

When will we eat at our grandmother’s home? Is our kindergarten bombed?

Is my teacher dead now? Why can’t I get my favorite food and snacks?

My daughter asks me to keep the planes silent so that she can sleep. But I can’t do that for her to get some rest.

Someone has to die

I see my kids playing with their cousins every day. In their games, someone has to die as a result of bombing.

We survived the bombing of my parents’ home, when the area we thought was the safest was the first to be hit. It’s the same area where my son Khalil drew the bombing he saw in the street when we evacuated the first time.

I have no idea if I will ever be able to salvage some of the memories from my apartment. It was partially damaged but I have no idea if I will ever be able to reach it and maybe say goodbye.

Every day is now a routine struggle to secure the basic necessities for survival.

How do I get food, water, clean clothes, gas? All this takes precedence over the tens of other important tasks on my very long to-do-list as a working mother.

I have zero power to make a single decision about my family’s future, or even the next day.

I feel that I will never feel at home again.

And in this carnage, I am embarrassed to talk about the things I miss, little and large.

I miss my bed. I miss my clothes.

I miss the perfumes I bought in every city I visited.

I miss my daily cup of cappuccino when the kids finally rest. I miss my job.

I miss taking the children out every Friday for family gatherings. I miss being worried about silly things in life.

I know that the above is nothing compared to what’s really there in my mind and heart.

I know it’s nothing compared to the price other people are paying in this genocidal aggression.

I’m not sure if I can successfully convey what we are living through. I write this during a day of ceasefire.

We are free of bombs but not free of our daily battle to survive.

A few days ago, I was remembering how I lived in previous aggressions. I thought about the survivor’s guilt I experience after every aggression.

I am not sure anyone in Gaza needs to worry about such guilt after this aggression ends.

I am not sure any of us will survive.

Each and everyone of us is losing parts of their lives and souls. We believe that those who have risen are the only ones who have survived.

Sarah Algherbawi is a writer and journalist in Gaza.