By Nesma K. Seyam – Gaza
Every night, I open my small window, inhale a deep breath and release all the hidden tensions in my chest. With my eye half open, I gaze at the dark sky whose face is sprinkled with stars, like freckles on a child’s face. As I stand, taking in another breath I look at the border trying to figure out the way to my grandparents’ old village of Aljoura. It was ethnically cleansed in 1948, displacing my grandparents and making me a refugee today.
My grandparents once sat under the same sky, caressed by the glow of the moon they slept under, which is now a part of Israel. A cold breeze makes its way into my heart, evoking long lost memories. It all however comes to a screeching halt when the toxic fumes emitting from power generators scuff my nose. The air feels different here compared to old Aljoura.
Everyone in Gaza complains about the smell of the emissions of power generators. Who would ever tolerate the toxic emissions that violate our well-being and health? Could you imagine the feeling of having something forcibly seeded in your veins, the kind of sickness muddled up with rage in the pit of your stomach? The Luxury of opening my window in Gaza is spoiled by the emissions of generators and the possibility of being smashed by an Israeli airstrike over the night.
When Candles Become Monsters
I hate candles. “So do I,” said my five-year-old niece Shaimaa. She loved the slim colorful ones though, the birthday candles. “Big ones kill children. My classmate spoke of a specific type of candle, which caused the deaths of children in their sleep,” she continued with her eyes wide open as she tried to draw a big circle in the air to visualize the massiveness of the candle.
“It wasn’t that huge, darling. It was the same height and the same diameter of your birthday’s candles. Maybe it was colorful too, the same size of the candles lit in the burned children’s funerals,” I whispered to her.
Even most protective families could not push fear out of their children. In Gaza, children have learned at a very young age what it is like to be insecure and afraid all the time. Those kids act older than their real age. They will grow up one day and realize it all.
Who is to Blame?
Gaza’s children will grow up one day to figure out who to blame. They will find out that it was not the candle’s fault, but rather the fault of some dirty hidden hands.
Two states have a share in all these murderous crimes; Israel, by tightening the ten year blockade on Gaza which has intensified the restrictions on the access to fuel to the Gaza Strip. This has led to prolonged blackouts which can last more than twelve hours a day. Egypt is considered the second culprit by closing the Rafah border, preventing the movement of cheap fuel sources from Egypt.
People were left with no alternatives but the lights of candles, which have burned a considerable number of houses.
Small Coffins are the Heaviest
The idea of losing my unborn baby girl to these risks is driving me insane. I would die overseeing the loss of my to-be-born child. How could a mother take the last glance at her forever sleeping baby girl, wrapped up coldly in a white piece of cloth, her face pale, her body lowered in a white coffin.
Elsewhere, candles could be lit on birthdays and festivals, but in Gaza, candles can be the source of fire and death, killing children and bringing in more funerals tents. In Gaza, candles can become a source of more tragedy.
Now, I could open my window on a calm night, as there is no fuel left to run the generators. Yet, I am not happy and I do not enjoy this silence because I know, while I am enjoying the calmness of the night, other families are running to hospitals and losing their children and beloved ones.
The bad smell of the emissions coming out of generators is still better than that of the smell of death caused by candles.
– Nesma K. Seyam is a graduate of Civil Engineering and a Gaza-based writer. This article was contributed to PalestineChronicl.com.