Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

COVID diaries: Mad, mad world

Basman Derawi | 26-08-2020

Two days ago,
I laughed
with our new 'WANNers,'
talking about movies
and why we love them:
Through their stories,
we can see the world
we are not allowed to see.

At sunset,
I visited my aunt.
It was an ordinary day,
with just four hours of electricity,
since Israel has banned fuel imports,
and the sound of faraway bombing.
Yes, ordinary for
someone in Gaza.
Four Palestinians were killed
in that Israeli attack.

Around 11 p.m.
I talked to my aunt
and played with her
granddaughter,
covering my face
with my hands
and saying, pow!
She laughed uproariously.

Then the Ministry of Health
announced four cases of COVID
inside Gaza.
Now I must keep my face 
covered all the time.

The next day,
a total lockdown was announced.
The streets are empty, abandoned.
Yet my brain is full of thoughts
and images I have seen in other countries:
Hospitals turning people away;
not enough ventilators.
People dying, alone,
too infectious for company
even during their last days.

1:40 p.m.
I hear from my friend, Pam,
that our friend Rob, a Black prisoner
in the U.S.,
has been put in solitary
as a crude, cruel way
to stop the spread of COVID.
Reminds me of the Israeli treatment
of Palestinians.
Neither of us understand why humans
would do this to each other,
when what we need now is
humanity and solidarity.

Now I am wondering
if the number four is a jinx?
Just four hours of electricity.
Four killed by Israel.
Our first four COVID cases inside Gaza.
Bad news from abroad at 1:40.
Or is this just life in a
mad, mad world?

Posted: August 26, 2020

Mentor: Pam Bailey


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