Write about an unexpected celebration.
From the land that is witness to millions and millions of real tragic stories, comes this fake one…..
” Ehlaam, you are the noor (light) of my eyes…”
” But Babba it’s 3 days now. Nothing has happened. It’s real this time. Everyone…”
“No! And no more arguing. You must stay with your Aunt while I go fishing with the other men.”
May be it was her Babba’s moist eyes or may be his stern voice or may be both that stopped Ehlaam from arguing further.
The thought that Babba might never let her go to school again made her tearful.She trudged wearily behind Babba.He knew it was hurting Ehlaam but he didn’t want to lose her like the rest of his family. He lead Ehlaam to her Aunt’s house.
Aunty took Ehlaam inside the house while Uncle and Babba left right away. The coast of Rafah had opened for them after a very long time.
Aunty constantly peeked out the window. When she thought Babba and Uncle were gone quite a distance from them, she took out a packet and handed it to Ehlaam.
“Your father understands that if you are unsafe, you are as much unsafe here,in this house, as in a UN school or any other place in Gaza. He is scared. When he comes back we will talk to him. Don’t worry about anything.Your Uncle got this for you. Get dressed and go to school.”
Ehlaam hadnt smiled like that in days. It seemed years to her.
She quickly tore the packet and took a moment to admire her uniform. It looked old but was neatly ironed.
” It was my daughter’s..” aunty said..” She was just like you..eager, intelligent…”
Ehlaam knew her cousin had died in the blast 2 years ago. Aunty noticed the smile on Ehlaam’s face fade away. She told Ehlaam all the funny stories about her naughty daughter that she could recall as she helped her dress. She told Ehlaam that she will as much fun her daughter had at school and gave her an apple before she left.
Ehlaam walked as fast as she could. She stopped by her home, at least what used to her home before the blast destroyed it, her family and forced them to move to the shelter for the displaced. She pushed back all the horrible memories of that night and focused on retrieving her books from the ruins.
When she found most of them, she headed towards the school.
She wasn’t taken aback by the battered building. She saw holes in the walls, broken window panes and the unexploded missile in the playground. But she was glad that the building was still standing.
When she reached her class, the teacher had already started the lesson. When the teacher permitted,she rushed in and took her seat. She spotted all her friends and they were delighted to see her as she was to see them.
The rumble was pushed to the walls.The benches were mangled. Most of the board was blown away so much that the next class and everyone in it were clearly visible and audible.
But Ehlaam had become oblivious to the reality or anything that suggested her reality the moment she stepped in the school.
It didn’t seem like anything less than Eid to her. She was dressed in her new uniform. She was among her friends. They had their modest lunch. Drank water without having to think about storing it. They played. They learned and even though it got a little boring,the happiness never left her.
She was celebrating. Her freedom. Her life, even though there wasn’t much in it. Finally, it felt like she was living and that in itself was a celebration for her.
22 kilometers away…
Babba and Uncle hadn’t seen that kind of fish in Rafah before. The fishes were big and of different kinds.They jumped right into their boats ,the moment they set the trap.They knew they were experiencing some kind of natural phenomenon. They thanked Allah and were about to return to the shore when a warship opened fire. And Babba took one to the chest…..
pic by:Tawfeek GIbreel