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

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

When the mind wanders

Ghazal Othman | 29-11-2018


Gharam and I

I woke up missing my mom, like I do every day, wishing I could open my eyes to her smiling face and a kiss. She died when I was just 13—10 years ago. Sometimes it’s like she died yesterday, and at others I feel as if she has been dead a very long time. It’s a bad feeling to need something that is impossible to get—like a fire is burning in my heart and there is nothing I can do to extinguish it.

My mom suffered from kidney failure due to lupus (formally called systemic lupus erythematosus). But she was not allowed to travel abroad for treatment until it was too late; the day she was finally cleared to travel to Israel, she died. I was used to seeing my mother sick, yet I never thought death would visit my family—that it would choose to steal someone as close and dear as my mother. 

I try to prevent sadness from controlling me. I know others have experienced pain worse than mine; at least I still have a father, sisters and a brother who love, support and encourage me. I pray every day they won’t leave me, that my soul will depart before them. (I have six sisters and a brother from the same mother—Nagham, Ibdaa, Rawaa, Orouba, Ishraq, Aaroub and Ahd. My father later remarried and I now have two younger stepsisters, Raseel and Gharam.)

My Mobile Zone team

I prepared for the usual argument with my father, who hates that I don’t like to eat breakfast as soon as I wake up. I realize now he is simply concerned about me, but I can’t eat so early in the morning. Instead, I ready myself for work. I work as an accountant at Mobile Zone. I love my job, but not because I like accounting. I actually wish I could go back in time and study journalism and media instead. Still, I love the environment and my coworkers; when one of us is sad, we all feel it. We bring food to each other and the managers never act like they are in command. I find myself looking out for the company’s interests as if I was the owner—so much so I sometimes can't sleep well when the company faces a problem.

Today, I felt afraid of the future though. It’s a familiar feeling. I am afraid I will die without leaving at least a small mark on this big, great world. I stop the negative spiral by repeating this sentence in my head: "I have enormous energy and ambition; I will achieve my dreams one day very soon." My current dream is to earn a scholarship from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies to study for my master’s degree in media and cultural studies.

I returned home from work, eager to see my little sisters Raseel and Gharam, 8 and 6 years old. They were waiting for me in front of our home. I greeted them with a big hug, then changed my clothes, ate my lunch and visited my married sister Nagham to borrow two books from her husband: "Ramallah Dream" by Benjamin Barthe and (in Arabic) "The American Genocides” by Munir Al-Akash. I chose the second one, which chronicles America’s often hidden, bloody history, because I was attracted by a quote on the flyleaf: "Our history is written with disappearing ink ... The very first thing the victor does is erase the history of the vanquished.” How easy it is to rip people from the world's conscience!

Later, as I wrote this, I became acutely aware of the fact that I’m so busy these days I rarely talk to my friends. It upsets me, because I believe someday, I will regret not devoting time to them. I prioritize my work and plans for the future, without taking today into account. My friends may not be in my future if I’m not careful.

Sometimes I like to make dinner for my little sisters. They prefer me to make dinner for them because I make food into different shapes. Today, we hardboiled eggs and cut vegetables and shaped them into a snowman. They laughed so happily as they shared the work, with Raseel slicing the carrot and Gharam cutting up the capsicum (pepper).

After they brushed their teeth, I helped Raseel fall asleep. I lay in bed beside her and ran my hand through her hair. This comforted her and she soon fell asleep. We need children for their love and affection as much as they need us.

Finally, I ended the day by sitting with my family while my sister prepared a delicious date cake. What made it special, though, is being together. 

Now, I am back in bed again. I think of what I am expecting tomorrow, everything that happened during the day and memories from the past—my mother’s death and my two sisters who are studying abroad now. I caress each thought one by one until I fall asleep.


Posted: November 29, 2018

Mentor: Pam Bailey

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