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

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

Haytham will never be a number

Basman Derawi | 30-07-2016

Haytham Kishko in 2012

It has been two years. Two years of being able to sleep most nights, without waking up to the news that someone I know is dead. Two years without a call in the middle of the night from someone telling us to evacuate our houses. Two years without quakes and bombs; now it’s just fireworks during holidays like Ramadan.

But I have not forgotten. I have a wound that will never heal.

My mind goes back to July 30, 2014, during the last Israeli war on Gaza. I had just arrived at Al-Shifa Hospital, where I was working as a physiotherapist. I usually worked in another hospital, but the land beside it had been hit by an Israeli F16. When it was hit, I was in the physiotherapy clinic when I felt a shaking like an earthquake. I was covered with dust and broken glass, and all I could think to do was run. I ran all the way back to my house, sweating profusely and with my legs screaming in pain. So I decided to work in Al-Shifa Hospital, because it is closer to my house and, I hoped, safer.

Now, I was in the Al-Shifa clinic, when one of my colleagues said in a low, trembling voice, “You know our friend, Haytham? He was killed in an attack yesterday; shrapnel lacerated his trachea."  

I was shocked, my knees becoming so weak I couldn’t rise from my chair, my eyes blurring with tears. I drowned in hundreds of whys: He was only 25; why did he have to die so early? Why did the missile hit the market just when he was there? Why was he even in the market at 4 p.m., when he’d normally be working?

Haytham and I met while we were both studying physiotherapy in university, and we’d help each other study. His dream was to complete his internship, then travel to Algeria, where he had friends and there is a society that always has stood in solidarity with Palestinians. His eyes would become so bright when he talked about his plans.

To take a break from studying, we go to a nearby café for tea, and share our love for Western music. His favorite was Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”—although others never understood why and we’d laugh about it. Then we’d play tarneeb or handreeme, two card games sort of like poker (but without the gambling part).

I had just seen him two days before, after his brother was killed in a different Israeli attack. It was our last hug. Who knew that soon he’d be gone as well?

Haytham is gone, leaving memories of his charming smile and ambitious dreams.

Rest in peace, my friend.  

Mentor: Pam Bailely
Posted on July 30, 2016

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