Bread, Flour, Blood
July 05 2024

Ironically, change wangles an invitation into our lives. We strive to save our original character among the inevitable forces that push us to new spots, not always as glamorous as the previous ones.

I used to be a picky person. My food used to be healthy and clean. My time was spent on important stuff with valuable people. I never assumed that my month could pass as one day, cycling over and over. These days, I cannot make a single choice. I don’t have any choice. I literally settle for anything on the table. 

To make things worse, my youngest brother (16) — who is also my favorite in the family — told me that my sense of humor was on the verge of breaking down. 

I manifested that I would have control over my life again, as soon as this war was done. I suppose that this was my last straw of surrendering to change… until my favorite brother got injured. His bruised and bloody knee was clear evidence that he had aged more than I thought during this war. Once I saw him, I froze, even though sweat was all over my face. My lips were unable to utter any word of support. 

Unexpectedly, I gave up the idea of regaining my composure. I blamed him for both his injury — he tripped while running away from Israeli snipers, who targeted an aid truck — and his silence all this time. I was shocked by his patience, as he kept the glory of his victory above any other painful incident. "Your hard work eventually paid off” — that’s what I tell him when he passes an exam, but not when he survives another brush with death! 

Apparently, we keep climbing a ladder of struggle. The gaps between each step get wider — when we fall through, we get stuck in a maze of fragile memories. 

I dabbed his knee with iodine, wishing I had studied medicine to know exactly what to do. I pressed harder than I should have — maybe my fear was leading, or maybe my rage was ruling. I couldn't curb my bumpy feelings. 

He shouted: “Ouch!” I pulled my hand away then I caught a glimpse of the rigged smile on his face, telling me that he was just kidding. Or maybe he was lying to me with his smile; maybe it really did hurt. It took me a few times to tell the real meaning behind his masculine front. 

All attempts to fake another smile were in vain. An undutiful sob managed to end the show. 

These days, all my meals are centered around bread. You want some dessert? Make some sweet bread. You want something crunchy? Fry some bread with a sprinkle of red pepper. We’re deceiving our mouths. 

How can I blame my little brother for trying to get more flour for us? How can I convince him that fasting is more appealing than lots of flour combined with a single drop of his blood? How can I change what nature cannot change? Based on my own insight, change only means pain, even if the results are promising. We might be oblivious to the rushed imprints it makes on our souls, but, sooner or later, we will notice the marks. My only solace is to get used to change. 

April 3, 2024, 4:51 pm

Artwork is "Bread of Taboon" by Palestinian artist Sliman Mansour (1983) — purchased by Liberation Graphics, hosted on the website of the Palestine Poster Project. 
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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