14 October 2009

Memories of Bombing [Second Lebanon War] August 2006

“Moments of Despair”

Sitting in the shelter of our building, I hear one, two, three, four missiles hit Haifa. This time I did not take my cell-phone down with me, and my partner has gone out to a job interview. I am sure one of the missiles has hit just 500 meters from our building – the sound of explosion was so loud. A few minutes go by; all I can hear is my heart beating somewhere close to the surface of my body. It has left its place – I can feel it in my brain…

Fifteen minutes go by and I rush upstairs. I panic. My partner’s phone rings, but no answer. I dial again, with trembling hands, and his phone is dead. I want to run outside into the silent streets and shout his name.

On the news, they are showing the neighborhood where one of the missiles hit. A flash of fear passes in front of my eyes – I immediately recognize the street as the one next to my grandmother’s home. This is exactly where my father parks his car when he goes to visit her. I grab the phone again – and for a moment cannot remember my parents’ number. I have to rake my memory for it before I dial. No answer. I dial three more times, but still no answer. His cell-phone is dead. I rush to the news again and search the faces, the cars, but cannot find him or his car among the images. Where is father???

I don’t know what to do, so I just stand still, waiting for the calamity.

Has my world disappeared in one, single moment? Has it crumbled upon itself?

I sit down on the sofa and wait. For what, I do not know. My brain is empty. I listen for the sounds of sirens, screams, anything, but all I can hear is the silence after death.

I try my parents’ house again, and my father picks up the phone. “You are alive!!!” my father was at home, trying to get in touch with his older brother, who had been at my grandmother’s house at the time of the bombing. Nobody from my family was hurt – at least for the time being.
My partner returns home half an hour later.

Haifa has turned into a ghost town. We wake up to the sounds of missiles and go to sleep with the sounds of Israeli airplanes over our heads and reverberations from Israeli tanks firing into the night, across the border. For my family, life has come to a stop. We stay home all day, shuffling tiredly back and forth between the shelter and the apartment. My body feels stiff from lack of movement. I feel exhaustion – my body is just a hollow container, my mind wanders about, unfocused. During the day, I am afraid to leave the house, and in the evenings, I rush out to buy just the bare necessities.

I have a small bag ready by the door – my passport, documents, money, all my important documents on the tiny disk-on-key, my novel-in-progress, a notebook, and some clothes – in case of an emergency. Then I open the newspaper and I see a Lebanese mother of five carrying some pillows from the wreckage that was her home.

We live in a region where much blood has been shed. But I have never actually felt the fear as I do now. Never before was my life interrupted – or controlled – by war. Never before was my very existence in danger. This war has changed my priorities in life. Things that only yesterday seemed so important to me lose all meaning. When have we become monsters that care nothing for human lives?

I try to focus my mind and think clearly – with no success. There is something deep down within the folds of my soul that is moving ever so violently, trying to escape and make its appearance on the page. I try to put this something into words – but what? Words just fail me. I – master of words – can come up with nothing to write. For no words can convey these feelings of devastation, feelings of the utmost despair.

1 comment:

  1. Khulud: If I say that I know how you would have felt then, it would be a lie as I cannot imagine anything like that. Being here safe and secure, I almost feel guilty. I know I don't have to but then what is that reality? What is the real - The peace and security here or the war there. I have seen no flood, no war, no famine -- I can feel empathy but is that all. It disturbs me.


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