Noisy Neighbors
April 15 2024

My neighbors were never my favorites. They had many children who cried a lot, did their homework 30 minutes before school, and quarreled with each other if the bathroom was occupied. I heard their mother’s yelling every day at 6 a.m. for an entire semester.  However, we don’t complain about it. And if we stumble by any of them in the street, we would behave as civilized neighbors, normalizing anything abnormal. 

When my grandmother was alive, she used to visit every house on the block: her to-do list was all about meeting people and having some sips of tea at different homes on the same day. An empty house is all that my poor grandfather used to find for days. He finally admitted that he didn’t mind the visiting process but wanted a declaration note each time my grandmother went out. At the time, there was no Wi-Fi, nor mobiles to kill the fires occurring suddenly. 

Surprisingly, my mother isn’t the same as her mother: she barely visits her close relatives, having no intention of widening her circle of relationships. The source of all the details we got to know about our neighbors was their loud voices, whether from yelling or just chitchatting in their kitchen. Part of me believes that they knew a lot about us by following the same unintended strategy. In spite of all the imperfect images we framed, we lived a peaceful, hurly-burly neighboring life, where all conversations were privately public. Until the silence. 

Days have come, from sunrise to sunset, with not a single whisper. It was the third month of war — the missiles hit my block directly, damaging every corner. We woke up because of our neighbors' yelling per usual… but not for some school delay or turn at the loo. İt was their panicking after a big chunk of their staggering roof fell upon their heads. Ash was everywhere, covering their black lashes and wavering their wooden window frames. Their old house could not bear the severe bombing of the house next to them; six floors became a new layer of pavement, with no evidence of prior presence. We had to see all my neighbors pelt along for pure breaths outside their houses. They left, taking nothing but their pale faces and dark clothes. 

Our neighbors were like our own shield of assurance. Now, with their woeful departure, fear was able to sneak into my bed, attacking every spike of serenity I fought for. Sometimes, we would hear someone moving there, only to find that we imagined it. Their empty house, alongside its uninhibited quiet, became a curse we never thought to fear. When this war ends, if it ever does, we will be the first to welcome our neighbors, longing to hear their cries for the rest of our lives. 

April 1, 2024, 11 a.m., morning

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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