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

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

The agony of loss

Noura Al-Ashi | 22-09-2015

The spirit of Noura's brother

One day the Israeli occupation forces launched an illegal air assault on Gaza. Many military planes flew across the sky, which was gray although it was still early morning. As if Gaza had become a volcano, black columns of smoke rose into the sky. It felt like the bombing went on for a long time; then, the ground would stop shaking awhile and start again. It was winter and extremely cold, so everyone was reluctant to go outside, despite their fear of the buildings collapsing around them.

He was strong-willed enough to remain firmly at work despite the bombardment, although he was ill. She waited all day to speak with him, but there was no chance to talk. She was crying and felt so alone, with a great creeping fear inside. Everyone around her was panicking with worry about a loved one. No one could comfort her because they were too preoccupied themselves, and she avoided thinking what she instinctively already knew. She wondered, and her thoughts raced between hope and fear.

She walked in the streets to reach the place of his work. Suddenly, among hundreds of people, she saw him. But he looked at her with grieving eyes and was gone.

As if in a dream, she kept thinking she saw him again. But she could not reach him; she could only cherish the memory of his love in her heart forever. He was the noble man who made her happy and ready to love life. She loved him as if he was still a living, breathing part of her, although she knew they would never meet again. The thought of being separated forever was almost more than she could bear. He was the blood that coursed through her veins and gave her life. She believed with all of her being that they would always be one soul in two bodies, although the distance between them now was infinite, permitting not even one look, one word or one smile.

She saw him in her dreams. She envisioned his face even in the bright light of day. Finally, she realized the distance between their souls was growing into a cold emptiness. With aching sorrow, she contemplated how dark her life would be without him. She felt she had lost the meaning of hope and even the capacity to believe in hope. To stay alive herself, to prove that she could go on, she nurtured memories of him; he became her day and her night. He loved her, he waited for her and he visited her, but he could not enter her life.

Then he appeared one day to say, "I made you sad for many years. Please, leave me and forget me. You must trust me. In my love for you, I want you to live your life.”

She stood silently and listened, straining to hear his voice. She wanted to somehow capture it and hold on to it forever. But she realized the truth of what she was hearing.

Then she heard herself cry out in pain as the screaming jets flew on an evil mission above her. Even as she realized she was bleeding, her heart was calling him. She opened her eyes and saw him in heaven. He said, " I love you, my sister, daughter, mother. Now we are together once again."

This is my first story, which I wrote two years ago as creative fiction based on what really happened on the first day of the Israeli Operation Cast Lead, when my brother Fares was killed on December 27, 2008, at the age of 32. I was too traumatized and self-conscious to write the truth, so I disguised it in a story.

explosion in Gaza
Photo taken by Noura's sister, Dalia, the day after their brother was killed. 

Mentor: Najwa Saad
Published September 22, 2015

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