The Gaza Children

>> Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ramon Dacawi
(The year skips me now, which means more and more children were killed since my son had to write this piece, if only to be able to pacify and recompose himself in the aftermath of what he saw. Current television news footages continue to show similar scenes, although in different places in this troubled world of ours.  The names of children victims of these wars that continue to rage  may be different from each other, yet the unbearable suffering is the same. – RD.)

By Johann Dacawi

The financial crisis has left my beloved hotel where I work with just a handful of guests for nearly a month now. All the rooms in four floors of the eight-story building are empty. For the past several days, work was light and tips were low. My colleague, before he finished his shift, left me a list of rooms to work on. He told me to dust off the “baldachino” (those curtain-like things that hang on the beds and head boards) using a vacuum cleaner. I went to work, finished a room and moved on to the next.
The work bored me to death and my boredom made me feel tired, sleepy and lazy. I was about to go to the next room when I decided to take a break. So I grabbed the remote control, sat on the edge of the bed and clicked on the TV. Nothing caught my interest until I got to CNN. The Cable News Network ran the war on the Gaza Strip as it dragged on for the 21st day now.
A UN facility was in flames, the Israeli army hit the compound because they were being fired upon from the building. CNN also showed footage of a a large crater somewhere in Gaza and the Palestinians standing around the rim of the hole, looking on. BBC was running the same news and I changed the channel again. I continued to surf and was about to switch it off when the studio of the Aljazeera caught my eye.
The news anchor was standing and behind him was a video wall, wide and black with the names of the Palestinian children killed written in white letters. They highlighted a name, and said he was four years old; his sisters died, too, killed by an Israeli bomb. They picked another name and this time the boy was two and he died in his mother’s arms.
Then Aljazeera showed the images of the dead children. Some of them were lined up and covered with cloth. Others were covered by debris , one was mangled and many were being carried by Palestinian men. The lifeless faces of these children were scarred and bloodied. Some were “lucky” (I don’t know if this is the right word) enough to be recognized. Others were not. As I sat there and looked on, shivers ran down my spine and I wasn’t bored anymore.
Aljazeera continued on with the children but now they showed the survivors recovering in hospitals. A pretty little girl told a reporter of a bullet hitting her hand and another one finding its way on the back. I saw a boy lying down, his head bandaged, his face covered with scars and his eyes covered with tears as he tried to talk about what happened.
Something in me gave way when I saw this boy’s tears. I started to cry  and at the same time to control the tears but I could not . My mind told be “goddammit, it’s okay to cry!” So I turned  off the TV and cried.
            Except for the breathing and sniffing sounds I made, the room became silent. I got up, paced around and dried my tears. Then I left the room, dragging the vacuum cleaner along and headed for the service elevator. I decided to put away the machine and do something else. Tears began to fall again when the life started to move down.
I cried a lot of times this day. I cried after I called my wife, telling her what I saw. I cried again when I was on the boat on my way home. I’m crying now as I write this piece.
I don’t understand that war. I couldn’t even tell who is winning. One thing is clear – the Palestinian children and civilians are paying the price. I’m  a father of two boys and I felt that the dead Palestinian children were my own. I wonder about the Israeli fathers and Hamas fathers who are fighting each other in this senseless war. Do they cry, too, like me? I hope and pray.  


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