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

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

Daydream on a bus

Hanin Alyan Elholy | 14-07-2017


I was on the evening bus wondering
if the power plant would let us enjoy
a few hours of light in Gaza today.
I was on the bus thinking
of the man driving,
sweating to gain a few coins.
How can small pieces of metal
be enough for food, clothes,
education, medicine, fuel, taxes…?

Damn this, and where to escape?

The driver turned left,and through my window
everything sped past.
They appeared and disappeared--
buildings trees, cars, people…
Even the hours sped by.
But life in our city seemed to stop.

A young man sat beside me.
I could see his face in the mirror.
He was smiling, and yet
all the despair in the universe
burned in his eyes.
Maybe it was the fire of adventure in them.
His eyes were not young
nor sparkling.
Even their whiteness was pale. 

I hadn’t known it before,
that a man's heart is actually in his eyes.

He didn't notice me as he sat there.

We turned right.
I could hear the women in the back
talking about borders.
One child needs an operation.
(I think heaven is his best place!)
One hopes to travel with her husband for college.
(As if jobs are fighting to catch employees!)

The driver’s dark and wrinkled hands tuned the radio:
I miss your hugs, oh my beloved.
I smiled.

The young man next to me laughed, singing:
Hug me stronger and steal my heart.
Steal it and bury it in a peaceful land.

I looked at him with questions in my eyes:
As if your heart doesn't deserve to be here?
These innocent people don’t belong?

Where is a peaceful land? Nowhere?
He looked at me with a teasing smile.
That was his answer and his question, too.
He opened his phone…
I guess that was his way of answering my questions.

I was right!
He is a writer who speaks only to his own paper.
But I could read, and I was wrong:
He was never calm. He is a volcano.
He was never smiling, truly.

His body was shouting all the time,  
crying in need of a hug.
His words spoke of that reality
and his eyes, too, and his breathing.

My desire to listen even to strangers:
Empathy is my flaw.

Unconscious Me woke up,
took the phone from his hand and said:
Let our eyes speak for a while!
Cry! Shout! Don’t write!
I want to listen.

Smiling, he became a child, I a mother.
When he was about to leave,
Interviewer Me asked:
You spoke about your fears, but what made you strong?

He smiled again
and I fell in love with his smile.
Now, I have nothing to lose. I fear nothing.

Teacher Me shook my head, saying:
Incorrect answer! 
He smiled, saying, I have faith. I fear nothing.

My heart smiles forever.

Posted: July 13, 2017

Mentor: Zeina Azzam

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