Maisoon Bashir | 07-09-2015
No one lives without memories. Memory is a key not only to the past, but also to the future, to new beginnings. Even memories of forbidden dreams help one build character. Memory helps us learn lessons of how to struggle, and in turn, begin a new life with a fresh soul. I believe we can close our eyes to reality, but not to memories.
Inside myself I feel like an old woman watching my young outer self; I cannot believe this lovely girl of 23 years thinks like this. I am so surprised about myself, and every time I look into my memory I think, “this is not the girl I used to know.” So many things that were important to me are gone from my life; all I can do now is to fight to stay alive. The only thing I have is my faith and a lovely smile on a pretty face.
I flash back on some of the events that took place last year, 2014, during the last war against the Gaza Strip.
A special birthday
July 14 is my birthday, and last year I turned 22. It’s a nice feeling to expand your horizons by a year, with your dreams and ambitions growing with you. One of the dreams I have had since childhood is to be a bright star in the sky, to raise the voice of truth, to be the voice of poor people, the voice of my beloved country Palestine. For 22 years I have seen my people suffering from injustice.
I was planning to celebrate my birthday because I thought it would be a special time, especially after just graduating from university. I had finished one stage of my life and was preparing for a new one. I had gotten a scholarship after three years of trying, a chance to travel to the United States to learn how to conduct scientific research. I worked so hard to acquire this scholarship. When I won it, I was ecstatic, not only because of the chance for advanced study, but also because, for the first time, I was going to see the outside world.
I was so happy..!
I was at the peak of my happiness, feeling proud that I achieved a goal. I believe that I can achieve my dreams, a conviction I learned from Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, my father and many other great people who have played a role in shaping my character. With increasing joy, I knew my birthday in 2015 would be in the United Stats. I knew I would get to see my brother, Yosef, who I have not seen for more than 10 years because of the situation in the Gaza Strip. When put my head on my pillow and closed my eyes, I dreamed of how fantastic it would be.
I started planning, moment by moment, how I would spend the time with my brother. And suddenly something stopped me: “Oh! One moment, Maisoon. Do not forget you are in Gaza!” Perhaps it is the cost of living in Gaza, to know there is a barrier between a dream and reality. But it didn’t stop me. I continued to prepare.
I chose a title for my research: "Peace Journalism," about the role of journalism in exposing the truth. The purpose would be to shine a light on how the Western media don’t accurately portray the reality of the Palestinian people.
The first step in my journey was to go to Jerusalem for my visa interview. Jerusalem: an elusive destination, a home that lives in my heart, that I was always dreaming to visit! Just the thought of fulfilling that dream made my eyes fill with tears and my heart to beat fast.
Then, there was a shock! Israel denied me a permit to go to Jerusalem for my visa interview without a good reason. I tried all avenues, but to no avail. Soon after, the Israeli assault on Gaza began, crushing my dream, and my soul.
I lost my joy and happiness. My birthday still came, but with horrifying pictures of children killed and their homes destroyed. It was made “special” by the sound of bombing everywhere and electricity and water shortages. It was made special by a younger sister who said, “please let us die together!”
Now, it is a year later, and this memory has joined all the others inside me. I am more mature, more aware, wiser and stronger as a result. But I won’t stop dreaming about getting what I want, what I lost. As Carl Sandburg wrote, “Nothing happens unless first we dream."
Mentor: MJ Kaufman
Posted September 7, 2015