Writers Without Borders

Entry by: Briergate

2nd March 2016
Notes from the Enclosed

I have one hour of power left before I'm plunged in to darkness, reducing my laptop and mobile to inert metal bricks, lifeless and unused. I link my fingers, stretching them until the knuckles crack, and start to write.

Words flow more readily than electricity, because of the grief, hope and fear pounding away inside me, streaming out in the form of typed updates and information, lining the screen with a tirade of truth. I need to do this; need to keep speaking my life and environment until the world finally wakes up and takes notice of this holocaust.

I'm careful, though. Nothing links me to my blog, because I have to stay anonymous if only for the sake of my wife and children. If I were found out, I'd be imprisoned at best, executed at worst. After Operation Protective Edge, over one hundred of my fellow Palestinians were detained, in Carmel or Damon, and are yet to be released. I've heard the stories of what goes on behind the walls, and I'm frightened of it, and yet my fingers still compulsively travel across the keyboard, speaking for me.

They won’t allow children between eight and sixteen to visit inmates, which means Issa and Jibril would be strangers to me. I can’t risk that.

And yet, I am writing these words. I hold on to hope as others hold money, always repeating to myself: 'From the River, to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free'. The mantra is powerful, and sometimes when I hold my wife, I whisper it to her, warning her to stay safe, stay strong.

For Issa and Jibril, real life and normality is a procession of checkpoints, demands for identity papers, night raids, detentions, house demolitions, and displacement. They have been born in to a hierarchy where they play at the bottom of the pile, shrugging off verbal abuse, laughing at intimidation, crying out at physical attacks.

Their psychological walls, built through repeated power struggles in which our people always lose, are stranger still than the barriers and checkpoints. They are brave, my two sons, but they have lived short lives with the certainty of imprisonment and violent death always above their heads, hovering like vultures swooping to seize carrion. They will not weep, understanding that this is a war, and in war we have to fight first, and cry later. The only tears they have shed are a chemical response to the gas thrown out at demonstrations.

Issa, my eldest, is constantly getting in to trouble, risking his safety for the sake of pointless demonstration, retaliating against his fate. I once asked him- "Issa, why do you throw stones at the soldiers, when you know they could kill you?"

He smiled at me, and said simply "Father, the soldiers will shoot if I throw stones. They will shoot if I do not throw stones." and, I understood. For my son, this is the only way he can maintain a sense of pride and selfhood, in his caged and dangerous world.

My wife Nawal is less hardened to our reality. She openly weeps when she sees first-hand how our family, friends and neighbours are treated, even if she does not weep on her own account. I watch her face, soft and shadowed, as she dredges up courage and continues to stay positive and cheerful for our sons.

Sometimes, I imagine a different life, one where Israel had not been selected as the Holy Land, for the Chosen race. Before settlements sprang up, before the Six-Day War, before water became contaminated, and our people were herded like cattle in to smaller and smaller spaces, behind higher and higher walls, to face the rape of our land and the murder of our children.

I am not angry. I understand that every race needs to belong somewhere. I just dream sometimes, that the land they chose had not been ours.

I envy these words. There are no checkpoints to block them, no queues of Arabs behind men with guns, no searches, arrests or bullets to halt their journey. They are not confined. I think of them as carrier pigeons, wings soaring higher and higher away from my Gaza prison, out in to the world. I wish them speed, and safety.

I see that people take up my stories from the Strip, and hundreds of readers around the world visit my site to read each update. I need to believe that I am making a difference, however small, that might change my world, but every day we still fight, grieve, struggle and bury our dead. And the world looks on, and still nothing improves.

I imagine running through thriving fields of crops, holding Nawal's hands as she laughs, face upturned to the sun. Issa and Jibril run ahead, splashing in and out of the stream running alongside the field, voices loud and unafraid, whopping with joy. My sons are tanned and healthy, their stomachs sated, long limbs pumping as they chase each other away from the horrors they have experienced. Together, we run and run, breathing clean air, feeling the warmth on our backs, tasting freedom. No-one halts our journey or forces our speech into silence. It is this picture that keeps me sane.

My hands keep pace with my thoughts, detailing the sense of loss which opens like a chasm when I think of our situation. I field images spinning on a reel. Children scarred, burned. Corpses strewn on a lonely beachfront, their grotesque faces illuminated by relentless flashes from political journalists. Mothers screaming, their voices raised in grief, as the only way to express their heart-wrenching devastation.

The slums we live in, mud and Human waste piling up in walkways trammelled by desperate people, seeking out refuge from the bombs. Every time I watch this in my mind, I want to smash, burn, violate our oppressors. And yet, I stay silent, only allowing my writing to scream out my emotions.

I have finished writing, and I press the button to publish my story for today, watching the screen as it streams out across the globe to speak on my behalf.

I imagine the words spiralling outwards, travelling fast and free, transcending barriers and knocking on doors in Europe, America, Asia.

I close my eyes, imagining that I am one with my words, soaring above the ruins of Gaza and the West Bank, up, up until the dust, persecution and hell we live in is nothing more than an ever-decreasing speck of land, surrounded by the free world.

With a click, the electricity is cut for the evening, and I remain silent, eyes closed, flying beyond these walls, From the River, to the Sea.
Marker 1
Marker 2