Sent To The Sky
March 30 2024

Yesterday, I went out with my father. Usually, we have no common errands to run together, but I felt he needed some company. Exactly as I predicted, he quickly accepted my offer of joining him on his journey to look for wood. I put my clothes on and brought my brother's bicycle with me. We hit the road at noon, heading to a nearby block in the center of Gaza. In the good old days, I used to go there by car to attend workshops and meet friends. Today, all I'm seeking is good wood to set a warm fire.

I couldn't ride the bicycle because my neighborhood was crowded with dozens of men passing by, selling expensive (and perhaps stolen) goods. There is barely space to walk — your eyes don't have the time to meditate. It's as if you're watching a movie trailer where you only find suspense and nothing else. We don't even find suspense, only some hasty moments of losing part of our day in vain.

My father, a world-weary old man — with white hair and a red face, wearing a shabby leather jacket –- carried a small handsaw. Wrinkles invaded his forehead as he walked silently to do his job. This is how my father appeared in the middle of this real-life trailer.

We kept walking for almost an hour until we reached an area with some upside-down trees. Trees older than my father, their roots are taller than me, but certainly, they sawed what they reaped. They have been buried above the same soil that kept them nourished for decades.

Sunrays made it easier for my father as he sweated it out, constantly pressing and pulling the broken branches of the trees. I tried to help him and instantly got my hands muddy. People passing by were staring at us, deeply. I reckon they were jealous. My father found some natural plants and started collecting them from the ground, and I had to watch out for the wood he cut to take home.

Out of the blue, I glanced over the pile of wood only to find that an old man was taking from it. Startled, I screamed: “Excuse me, sir, these belong to us!” The man apologized with a face of true regret, and I wanted to gift him all the wood, but I couldn't offer something that was not mine. While I had a hand in collecting the pieces of wood, my father made the real effort. The man started searching for other broken branches,  my father came over and advised him to bring a handsaw next time, to be able to cut the branches. The man confessed that he needed one for sure.

The three of us started looking for plastic bags to carry the wood. We left the area after putting all the wood on the bicycle, which became too heavy to ride. We pushed instead: my father managed the steering, and I supported the back of the bicycle, so it wouldn’t deviate from its path.

When my father had been immersed in the cutting process, I rode the bike for a few laps of freedom. Many girls in the street encouraged me; the cheering made me feel joy.

On our way home, the spoil of wood we had made me feel accomplished. I miss the feeling I get once I achieve a task or learn something new. It was wood this time… who knows what else will bring me joy?

I became aware of the fact that it's not easy to understand things. At first, I used to believe that small families are the best fit: you don't need lots of luggage and it's not even costly to escape at any moment. One car could be more than enough, no struggles with one room, and certainly, a single bed might do the trick. Yet, all my beliefs were altered once my friend's twin brothers became martyrs in the south, away from all their other siblings, leaving a heartbroken family struggling to survive again with missed fractions. I realized that large families could do better in such tragedies. No matter how much effort it takes to get them in one car, or how many mattresses they might own — not to mention the food they would demand —  it’s still a blessing to have someone left if (God forbid)any misfortune occurs.

Yet again, all of these reflections were to evaporate once again, after another friend told me that her family had been divided. Part of them were forced to the south, while the others remained in the northern areas. Other family members were sent to the sky sooner than they could have ever imagined. They have no way of contacting each other: they live in the continuous horror of "not knowing." Even a tiny word can cause them to panic.

At the moment, I shall confess that losing your sense of measurement is inevitable amid such cases of constant loss. I will never be able to identify my own category;  I will always get stuck. And so, I will avoid making such judgments, to save myself from greater pain.

Monday, January 29, 2024
At Dawn

About The Author: 

Deema Dalloul is a 20-year-old writer from Gaza. She is a middle child and an avid reader trying to find her place in this world. She used to study business administration and work as a digital marketer, but not anymore. Currently, she’s trying, again, to survive starvation and war being waged on Gaza.

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