Burn Another One: Part Nine
By Fathima Begum
Adeela and her friends stood nervously around the rubble, of the remnants of at least twenty families’ homes that had been destroyed by an airstrike. The bombs had fallen in the neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning about a week ago, bringing news of yet more airstrikes to follow.
The week had been unbearable for Adeela, her family, and in fact everyone she knew. The death count was rising daily. When the attacks had first started, over a week ago, Adeela had been forbidden to leave the home. But after a few days, when they had realized that homes, schools, and even hospitals weren’t immune from the constant bombings, she had begun to venture out. Nowhere was safe. The wounded were being rushed into overcrowded hospitals every day and being treated by medical staff who were no less wounded themselves by the fears of everyday living in Gaza. Yet they continued to treat people as best they could.
The children skirted around the ruins of buildings, and sometimes they discovered little treasures, something that would be telling of who may have been one of scores of victims. Adeela had found a gold ring, sparkling through the grey dirt. She had picked it up, and wondered who could have afforded to own a gold ring, and then she had pocketed it and tucked it in between her folded clothes in her small rusty cupboard at home, knowing how precious it must have been to the person who lost it, who may also by now had lost their life. The possessions of people were strewn about everywhere, evidence of a people displaced.
There had been almost no electricity for almost two days, and they had all used torch lights to get about after dark. Many grocers had shut their shops and were hiding at home as until the deadly attacks were over, but some had bravely continued to trade. In just a week, their supplies were almost finished, which was just as well because people did not have much money to spend.
After a few long nights of not sleeping and listening to the drawn out whistles of bombs being dropped, Adeela had managed to sleep a little the night before. Her mother had tucked her in, spending some extra time with her to recite as many Qur’an verses as they knew. They couldn’t bear to say it, but they all knew that the danger of not waking up in the morning meant that they bade life goodbye every night before going to sleep. Many of her friends had lost family members, some had lost their parents.
The attacks had been bought on after the reigning government in Gaza, Hamas, had fired rockets into Israel. They had apparently been triggered by the news that had been widely broadcast, about a Jewish boy being kidnapped and tortured and then sent home by terrorists in Gaza. They all knew that the boy they were talking about must have been Berel, who had stayed in Adeela’s home for three weeks after he had been accidentally stabbed. He hadn’t been kidnapped or tortured; in fact he had been given good treatment, safety and hospitality.
After Hamas’ rockets had landed in Israel, it had taken less than a few hours for the first bomb to fall into Gaza in response, and this had continued relentlessly since. They all knew that it would go on until the bloodthirsty were not satisfied, until their lives, home, communities had been shattered into so many pieces that they wouldn’t have the courage to put their lives in order again.
Yet, everyday, they all ventured out on empty stomachs and searched for fellow victims trapped in places that bombs had been dropped, under the remains of their homes, some not even crying out for help as though their will to live had been stolen. Adeela had helped carry a little boy into a van two days ago. He had looked bewildered, as though he didn’t know that his face was covered with blood and that his arm had a deep cut in it. She’d seen the severely wounded cry out so loudly in agony that her head would hurt to hear it. She had heard a woman cry out for death, after she had survived a bombing that had killed her two young children.
She had seen her grandfather weep silently, muttering supplications that Adeela couldn’t understand, but knew that the Almighty would. Her brother Abbas, and his friend’s had already voiced their intentions to bring down the enemy, in any way they could. They were fiercely angry, and had given up their adolescence to become men of war. They sought revenge with every breath they took, and were prepared to sacrifice themselves to put an end to the suffering that their people were enduring and to bring peace to their people. Yet, mere day to day survival had become an impossible struggle, and they were all drowning in the depths of destruction.
No one knew what could put an end this horror, so they clung onto every thread of hope, even if it came from the angered boys who prepared to kill or be killed. There were no words that could comfort and no relief could be salvaged. Adeela felt strangely numb and could barely speak, even when spoken to. She followed her family members, like a shadow but she saw the same forlorn look of terror on the faces of every other person around her. She craved to find a hiding place, for her and her family and for everyone she knew but there was none, and the bombs rained furiously down from above, determined to demolish every inch of their existence.