Monday, February 27, 2006

The counting game

6:14pm. The shelling has been ongoing for some time, then it suddenly occurred to me to begin to keep track, for no particular reason other than to actualize these episodes for myself. 6:18pm. 13 shells. I lost count after that. but what I did remember about this particular bout was that Yousuf, for the first time, told me that he's "afraid".

Usually he'll just say "yamma" in a rather animated way that children do, (it means "oh mommy!"). But today, he associated fear with the earth-pounding noise-which he thought was coming from the kitchen because that's where he was when he heard it ("khayif..hinak!", "afraid..over there!"). You can't explain such an incomprehensible existence to a 2 year old. You just try and normalize his reality. That's why I love the film "Life is Beautiful" so much.

He'll only get as scared as you do, sometimes. And sometimes no amount of re-assurance can convince him that this loud and recurrent thud he hears every day is innocuous (so far). One Israeli friend who emailed to check on us even suggested I make a counting game out of it-how many shells can we count today? (not a suggestion I'm likely to adopt anytime soon). I sometimes think of Rafah's children, and how their lives must have been during those night under constant Israeli seige; how their lives will continue now; whether they can continue with any certainy at all. Being a mother puts a whole new spin on it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't Gaza no longer occupied or am I missing something?

3:49 AM  
Blogger Stephen Pearcy said...

I suspect that George Bush would be much more afraid of your kitchen than Yousuf is. But, unlike Yousuf, George would not be man enough to admit it.

4:39 AM  
Blogger umkahlil said...

Joe90 left this comment on my blog:

For the first time, my namesake, bonnie wee Yousuf, told his mum he was 'afraid'
http://a-mother-from-gaza.blogsp...nting- game.html

There's no words exist to describe how I feel!

and karin replied:

The story about little Yousuf reminds me of an incident happened a couple of years ago.
I was calling my friend in Rafah. My friend and a group of children were under siege!
I heard children screaming and gunfire. Help me, help me…oh the children. We have no milk he screamed.
Than the connection was cut.
I was later informed that during this particular attack no one was hurt, except for the trauma the children suffered.
Needless to say I was shocked as well, wrote a report about the incident in our local newspaper. I mentioned the milk situation.

A few days later a milk producing company in Indiana, one of the largest in the US. offered to send dry milk to Rafah, however the milk was confiscated by Israeli authorities and not a crumble went to the children.
This company’s effort was in vain and I was furious.

I’m happy to report that this company did not give up and is sending the milk via a different route.
Where there is a will there is a way!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post brought tears to my eyes as I watch a blizzard rage outside my window. How far apart our lives and realities are... but my son is almost two and I felt fear myself just picturing him in little Yousuf's position. I am blessed that my son's fears are limited to nightmares that can be erased with a cuddle and a song in Mamma's arms.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Abu-Issa said...


In 1967, when I was 2 years old I huddled in the hallway of my family's Jerusalem home as the Israelis took what was left of Palestine bombs dropping around us, sporadic machine gunfire as Israeli soldiers made their way street by street, house by house.

To this day even from the safety of life here in Canada, that high pitched sound bombs make as they fall makes me shake with fear...whether it be in a movie or at a fireworks display...

Talk about fear seeping in the DNA...

Be safe.

8:04 PM  

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