Imagine: You wake up not to the cuckaducoo but to a bombing near your house. Imagine: You now sleep in the dining hall as you fear that the bedroom may be shelled anytime. Imagine: Your child mistakes the other country’s military men (dressed in green) and think trees kill and fears nature all her/his life.
..but this is a way of life for the people in Gaza. In one of the first kind of a book, Gaza Writes Back, is a haunting, disturbing and an empathetic collection of short and very short stories by young men and women who live (and hopefully will!) in Gaza, Palestine.
The stories written by writers, bloggers in their 20s speak of broken teeth, dented aspirations, and all things that youth in any other developing/developed country have forgotten that it is a privilege to breathe the air not coloured by blood.
There are twenty three stories about displacement, farmers, children, mothers, extensive human suffrage, bonding because they know value of love and loss of dreams and aspirations to barbarism.
Of them, I have written excerpts of three stories I was moved by:
L for Life by Hanan Habashi: It is a poignant letter to a beareved father about the mundanity of everyday life and about their relatives; his mother who he addresses as “a woman I no longer recognize.”
An excerpt: It is when darkness prevails that I sit by the window to look past all those electricity-free house, smell the sweet scent of a calm Gazan night, feel the fresh air going straight to my heart, and think of you, of me, of the orphanagae, of the olive tree, of Amal, of Mama, of you, of my history class…
Spared by Rawan Yaghi: The story is about a young boy who is watching from his friends play football from his balcony as he waits for his mother to prepare lunch. The boy is cheering his friends when suddenly there is a blast and .. boys’ cheers kicking the football is now replaced with the sirens of the ambulance and a debris of young flesh.
An excerpt: Our neighbourhood was blown to smithereens in a split second. No more games were played. No more goals No more cheering. And my friends grew up in a second. They no longer looked at me the same way they used to before that awful day…. And they had a distant look, like Uncle Abu Ahmed when he looked at me, like I din’t understand, like they knew something I did not know, like I did something wrong.
Toothache in Gaza by Sameeha Elwan: A young girl goes to a dentistry in Gaza because of her terrible tooth ache, an obstruction in her daily activities. The conditions in the dentistry and the lack of proper dental treatment soothes her pain.
An excerpt: I stopped holding my breath when I was out. I hurried for the exit of the building. When my Dad emerged later on, I, with the same smile of the little girl, looked into his eyes, “See, they cannot help me. I told you.”
It is scary to think of youth learning scars, wars, bombs, shelling before love, life, aspirations, dreams. Yet, the dogged determination shines through and this collection is not just a literary sojourn but an urge tell us their stories, share their lives. In the Editor, Refaat Alareer’s voice: Gaza writes back because writing is a nationalist obligation, a duty to humanity, and a moral responsibility.
Story tellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers the right-to-freedom of the human spirit. – Chinua Achebe, in Anthills of Savannah
Additional Information: You check the book blog to know about the writers: gazawritesback.wordpress.com
Tags: authors, Gaza, Palestine