On October 9, my family had to flee our home in Gaza City. A week earlier, we had finished a second-story addition to the house, with a pretty bow window overlooking the street. Now it is all rubble.
First, we went to an uncle’s house in Falouja in the north, near the Jabalia refugee camp. But a week later, we were forced to move again, south this time, or risk relentless bombardment in an Israeli assault. We took shelter with another uncle in the Nuseirat refugee camp.
We were one family living there (in our original home), me with my mother and father, sister, and brother. Now we are living in my uncle’s house with three families: mine, my uncle’s and the hosts’.
Mostly we’re doing okay. But a cousin and 17 of my friends have died. I appreciate Allah for my safety, but I can’t lose more.
I miss my cats, Isabella and Samantha (Zaghloula), whom we had to leave behind. My book collection burned when missiles struck the house. I managed to bring my backpack but it only had three books in it. I miss all my books.
My friend Hossam helped me get work translating articles from Arabic into English for a Malaysian news agency. I didn’t care that it was unpaid; perhaps, when this is over — if I live — I might be hired on. The work helped me feel connected to the world outside of Gaza, that I’m contributing to spreading the truth about the war on civilians.
It’s work in urgent times. For the sake of sending a message and fighting back, I translate. Or just to not lose myself on these incidents we all see and hear.
But then the internet was cut off, and I have been unable to continue this work. Even now, though power is nominally back on, internet connection is too unreliable for channeling timely news.
I’m not feeling sharp today, because I haven’t yet eaten though I’ve been up for hours. We only eat biscuits at breakfast. We bathe every 10 days, if there is water.
I don’t know where we will go if and when the horror ends. I don’t know how to think about it and I don’t know how not to think about it. If I survive this war, I might be able to order my thoughts enough to write about my friends who died. For now, I’m in between.
Postscript: In my video of the destruction, below, the ever-present sound of drones is apparent. They’re very loud and above our heads 24/7. You can’t really sleep or think because of them. You can’t feel safe while they’re buzzing like deadly insects. You always feel you’re being chased and watched.
Watch my video to see all the destruction. The ever-present sound of drones is apparent. They
‘re very loud and above our heads 24/7. You can’t really sleep or think because of them. You can’t feel safe while they’re buzzing like deadly insects. You always feel you’re being chased and watched.
Editor’s note: This essay was developed collaboratively between Ramez Musmar and his mentor, Ellen Tichenor, via text messaging.