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There's no one from the family left, Father... We were targets for the 'green dogs'

There's no one from the family left, Father... We were targets for the 'green dogs'

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لم يتبق أحد من العائلة يا أبي... كُنا أهدافاً للكلاب الزيتية



I've always adored winter, ever since childhood. My friends would often ask me about my favorite season, and without hesitation, I would tell them about how winter romanticizes our lives, and that the clouds inspire me to write. I had been waiting for this winter, hoping it would be a special season in my life, as I was preparing to write my new novel, about a man who lost his life in war, and a woman who lost hers by losing her man to the war.

But fate had other plans, as with the rains came the attack on Gaza on October 7. We found ourselves running from house to house, and street to street, the world in all its vastness seemingly could not contain us, if it were at all welcoming.

At first, I knew that the events unfolding were happening whether I liked it or not, and since it was hard to fight fate, I decided to control my reaction, as it was the only thing I could control. I held myself together for about two hours, before completely breaking down, and deciding no longer to hold onto any feelings and emotions.

During the first days of the war, I remembered all the films and tv series I had watched, recalling their harshest and most awful scenes. What a fool I was! These were the things that used to make me cry? A world that controls women, forces them to wear red clothing and restricts their role to childbearers? A giant who eats the hero's mother in the first episode? A man who embodies terror, and later his children discover that he is actually their brother who raped their mother in prison? Or the man in Nazi prisons dancing and flipping so his son would laugh and think that what is happening isn't real, and that everything around them is a big play?

When we ran out of our homes before they were leveled to the ground and turned into backdrops for TikTok videos by occupation soldiers, my sister went into labor. If we had taken the time to stop to explain what was happening to the 'green dogs' in the camouflaged overalls behind us, they would have decided that the most practical solution would be to shoot us than listen because, ultimately, we live in the era of speed, and no one has time for anyone. Everyone is trying to ensure their daily schedule is highly productive, and perhaps the soldier behind us has only penciled in one month of his calendar to fight the war, in which time he would eliminate those damned ones who started it all on the morning of October 7th

*****

The first time we ran out of our homes in the North, before they were leveled to the ground and turned into backdrops for TikTok videos by occupation soldiers, my sister went into labor, which made running even more difficult. Dozens of guns were pointed behind us, and her womb could no longer bear it.

The family doctor was running alongside us because in war, titles and jobs are stripped away – here we are, as naked as the day we were born. He looked at us and we knew it was time for her to give birth.

Perhaps our days will change, and a time will come when I love freely and write a verse of poetry

If we had taken the time to stop to explain what was happening to the 'green dogs' in the camouflaged overalls behind us, they would have decided that the most practical solution would be to shoot us than deal with our words because, ultimately, we live in the era of speed, and no one has time for anyone. Everyone is trying to ensure their daily schedule is highly productive, and perhaps the soldier behind us has only penciled in one month of his calendar to fight the war, in which time he would eliminate those damned ones who started it all on the morning of October 7th.

In the end, we didn't speak to anyone, and we hurried my sister to the nearest hospital. Thank God we were able to reach a place that could help, despite having neither electricity nor anesthesia. Is a doctor still a doctor without his tools? There's no need to wonder, Father. We used to wonder before, thinking about what would happen if we did this or that. But now, Gaza is an experimental lab. You don't have to leave anything to your imagination. That day, we experimented on Salsabeel, and her belly was cut open with scalpels but no anesthesia. I, who used to be afraid of cutting open a chicken for our lunch, stood beside her open abdomen and took her baby from the doctor. Welcome to our world, little one. It's not the best right now, as you can see, but we'll sort it out over time, don't worry. I swear to you it was better a few days ago.

When her labor began as we were fleeing the soldiers, we rushed to the nearest hospital. Thank God we were able to reach a place that hadn't been bombed yet, but it had no electricity or anesthesia. Can a doctor still be a doctor without his tools? There's no need to wonder, Father. We used to wonder before, but now, Gaza is an experimental lab. You don't have to leave anything to your imagination. That day, we experimented on Salsabeel, and her belly was cut open with scalpels but no anesthesia. I, who used to be afraid of cleaning a chicken for our lunch, stood beside her open abdomen and took her baby from the doctor. Welcome to our world, little one. It's not the best right now, as you can see. I swear to you it was better a few days ago

My sister Salsabeel died while her wounds were being stitched. I apologize, Father, for delivering such news with such speed and clarity and without any introductions. I am in severe agony, you see. As you know, losing a sister in war is not the worst of tribulations one could experience. I think you understand this, as you spoke to me before your departure about your experiences in wars.

Anyway, I told you from the beginning that I must travel with you, and you promised that you would bring us after a month. There's no time for blame. Two days after Salsabeel's death, the little child experienced the world, but he didn't like it. He was starving, and we could hardly find him a wet nurse or some milk and water to satiate his hunger. This child is always discontent; he rejected our world, Father, and almost immediately, followed his mother.

After giving birth, my sister Salsabeel died while her wounds were being stitched with no anesthesia. I apologize, Father, for delivering such news like this. Two days after Salsabeel's death, her little child experienced the world, but he didn't like it. He was starving, and we could hardly find him a wet nurse or some milk to satiate his hunger. This child rejected our world, Father, and almost immediately, followed his mother

After days of destruction and fleeing, we finally reached stability in Rafah. I have a large tent there with my mother, little sister, and my brother, who wants to leave us and bear arms. He says that if all the men don't bear arms and sacrifice themselves, it’ll only be a matter of time until we’re all killed. I used to argue with him during the early days, but I no longer understand anything anymore. Can a ten-year-old child bear arms?

Just days before the war, I was thinking of writing an article about the impact of children seeing soldiers and guns on their daily route to school and in the market. Should children see such things in their day-to-day lives? I can now no longer say with certainty that it's not right for these children to carry those rifles. Perhaps in war, our humanity diminishes a little and our view of life changes. So, don't judge me by these sentences, Father.

Just days before the war, I was thinking of writing an article about the impact of children seeing soldiers and guns on their daily route to school and in the market. Should children see such things in their day-to-day lives? I can now no longer say with certainty that it's not right for these children to carry those rifles. Perhaps in war, our humanity diminishes a little and our view of life changes. So, don't judge me by these sentences, Father.

*****

In the early days of living in the tent, I began to notice and feel a different kind of winter than the previous ones I knew. The cold felt like lead bullets, and the desert beyond the tents was endless, extending as far as the eye can see. They used to distribute paper to us, to put inside our clothes to prevent the cool air from reaching our bodies. The paper didn't help me much, and the cold air had no mercy on us. One day, I woke up thinking to myself that I should dig into the ground, and bury my body under the sand (except for my head), maybe then I would feel some warmth.

The air rising from the ground was cold and deadly, so I'd wait for the sun with great patience. I would try to expose my body to the sun as much as possible, and one day I thought that exercising might raise my body temperature a little, but when the cold intensified, I became unable to move. I cursed the winter and the novel I had wanted to write, and I realized that loving and hating seasons is a luxury for those who possess life. As for me, trying to hold on so as not to die like this, I do not have the luxury of love or hate. I now wish for summer to come at any cost.

I've always adored winter, ever since childhood. I had been waiting for this winter, hoping to write my new novel. But fate had other plans… In our tent, I began to feel a different kind of winter than the previous ones I knew. The cold felt like lead bullets, and the desert beyond the tents was endless, extending as far as the eye can see. One day, I woke up thinking to myself that I should dig into the ground, and bury my body under the sand (except for my head), maybe then I would feel some warmth. I cursed the winter and the novel I had wanted to write, and I realized that loving and hating seasons is a luxury for those who possess life. As for me, I do not have the luxury of love or hate. I now wish for summer to come at any cost

Now there's no one left in our tent but me. Surely you've heard about the severe bombings that took place in Rafah. The rockets and missiles did not miss your family, Father. As for me, I was outside looking for a place devoid of people so I could relieve myself, and let's not talk about the veil because this is not the right time. I was in the open without clothes; the cold was killing me, as I kept reassuring myself that I would return to my clothes in a minute once I'm done.

I put on my clothes and was about to return, and then the sound returned to my ears again, the sound I've heard since childhood, the sound I've grown accustomed to, as if it were the sound of my very first toy: the ominous sound of airplanes heralding missiles that will be dropped in a few moments. Oh God, this nightmare again? I kept running, away from everything, and like Forrest, I left my feet to the winds, to carry me away, oh God, my dreams were simple, and You knew that. I just wanted to love freely, and to write a verse of poetry to the world.

Now there's no one left in our tent but me. Surely you've heard about the severe bombings that took place in Rafah. The rockets and missiles did not miss your family, Father. As for me, I was outside looking for a place devoid of people so I could relieve myself when the planes came. I am now alone in the desert; there is no longer a family for you to bring back in a month. Everyone died, and I think I will join them soon, as my body cannot bear the cold for another night

After what felt like a year, that night came to an end, and as the bombs dropped, I kept praying to God not to make what had remained of our family targets for those 'green dogs'. God didn't respond, Father. I am now alone in the desert; there is no longer a family for you to bring back in a month. Everyone died, and I think I will join them soon, as my body cannot bear the cold for another night.

I don't know if the news reached you or not, but do you know that they once brought me a loaf of animal feed? I couldn't stop laughing that day. This world has become a broken place. We don't control anything, Father. A damned dice decides our fate. The dice wanted wars here, so it happened. The dice rolled, and wanted me to lose my family, so I lost them, and it wanted you to move away, so you did. And while the dice provided you with hot Italian baked pastries, it gave me a loaf of animal feed. I don't mean to look (with envy) at the blessing in your hands, as you know I do not obsess over these earthly matters. I'm just explaining the story of the dice, and how I was too small to be a military target when I moved away from the tents to relieve myself. Does fate mock me and make me a metaphor for Darwish?

I don't know if the news reached you or not, but do you know that they once brought me a loaf of animal feed? I couldn't stop laughing that day. This world has become a broken place. We don't control anything, Father

A few hours ago, I found out that they will start to move us out of Rafah as well. More displacement. They say that Hamas is living among us. We can't argue; we're just trying to stay out of the bullseye, in this hunt they are playing. In the end, Father, I hope you're well. I know you are trying to reach us.

I hope you will also forgive me for some of the sarcasm in my words, but these may be my last words in the world, and this way, I won't appear in a bad light after my death even if I mock the entire world. If this letter reaches you, know that I didn't need it to block out the cold air. Just as days change in seconds and life turns upside down, and we're expelled from our homes, things might turn around, and I may find myself in an imaginary world where I can eat a loaf of bread baked from flour, drink a cup of pure, clear water, and use a bathroom enclosed by four walls and a ceiling, without the droning of missiles and planes overhead. Perhaps our days will change, and a time will come when I can love freely and write a verse of poetry.


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22



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