A sip of water

Nowhere is safe in Gaza. 

Fadi Wael Alwhidi DPA via ZUMA Press

I wake up at night.

Darkness. Vibration. Lights.

Not a dance party.

I turn on a dim light.

Scared to light it towards the window.

It’s not an emotional song.

I don’t think about emotions.

I don’t think.

I am scared.

I want to run.

I can’t escape.

I am inside walls.

Alhamdulillah they are my home walls.

But I am…

Not on my bed.

I am sleeping on the floor.

I am scared.

Alhamdulillah again.

I am not alone.

My family is with me.

But we may not stay together forever.

I am terrified of that.

There is a voice inside me.

It never leaves me.

Always telling me: Be afraid! Be terrified!

Run away.

No one will remain for you.

You were not born to live.

You were born to die.

I barely stand up, ignoring my inner voice.

And in a weird moment, I go for a drink.


Again, it’s not a party.

I take careful steps to avoid stepping on limbs.

Limbs everywhere.

Thank God they are warm.

And I trek for water.

It’s not in the kitchen.

It is on the ground next to us.

The water too is shaking.

The water is afraid.

I know why.

Again I ignore that.

I ignore the jolts of the earth.

I am thirsty.

Screams. Whistles. A red light comes with a crushing noise.

An earthquake but I am not in Japan.

Everybody wakes up.

Everybody is scared.

I turn on the radio, ignoring my fear.

Families genocided.

A whole hospital bombed.

The network was cut off.


Limbs. Cold.

Medics carry the martyrs, then soon become martyrs.

No one is safe.

Noise around me.

And noise inside me.

None is a happy sound.

The only sound I hear is: Run!

We have to escape.

And we have been running ever since.

That was three weeks ago.

I don’t know what is going to happen.

Or what is happening.

All I want is not to see my body enveloped in or below the rubble.

I am scared.

A little one asks for water.

She beams, feebly.

I am thirsty.

But I am not afraid.

Marah Hatoum is a writer in Gaza.