ترف الموت

This is now a strange scene; to be at a funeral and see a shroud, inside which is a whole body with two hands, ten fingers, two feet, and a head. Nowadays, we Gazans are lucky if we even get to have a funeral, to bury an intact body, or to have our family and friends there to say goodbye and cry over us.

This has become painfully clear to me over the past 245-plus days of genocide.

I am currently in Egypt — I made it out alive — but I am miserable. I feel as if I am marching towards an abyss. I can hear the heavy, pounding feet of others as we march together as one toward our demise.

An image is seared in my mind from Gaza — it is an awful sight to have witnessed — a dead couple’s hands clenched together, gripping each other as though being killed would be bearable if they squeezed hard enough.

I was not lucky enough to walk in the funerals of a thousand martyrs in Gaza, but I saw their bodies splayed on the ground, under the rubble, and burnt to ash.

These scenes play over and over again in my mind. They are like a weight on me. But nobody who sees me on the streets here in Cairo would know that this is going on inside me.

No one dies complete
After a missile strike, everyone searches in the debris to put their loved ones back together. Mothers search for their children’s heads to match with their bodies. To be a good mother in the rest of the world is to feed your children good food and keep them warm, but to be a good mother in Gaza is to bury your children whole.

Even two months later, I am still searching for the remains of my friend Israa’s body. I regularly ask for updates from my family to see if they have found more parts of her yet.

If you were killed at the beginning of the genocide, you could be buried properly, but now there is no official graveyard. Even the mass graveyards are being bulldozed by Israeli soldiers; it’s like they want to kill us again and again, to make sure we are completely dead.

A few weeks ago, my friend Mais and I were inside my tent in Rafah imagining how we might die.

“At least if I must die, I don’t want my body to be eaten by animals,” said Mais. “I don’t want to become dog food. I’d rather dissolve into the ground and disappear. But maybe I don’t want to become fertilizer either.”

Before the seventh of October, my friends and I would talk about our dreams and how we were going to achieve them, but now we talked about all the ways we could die: Will we die from a missile that destroys our tent? or from occupation snipers? or from hunger? or from hepatitis? Will we melt from the heat of the sun inside our tents? or will a soldier come and kill us? Will we die from a piece of shrapnel lodged in our bodies? or will we die trapped under the rubble, unable to breathe?

I told Mais that I want to die in a poetic way. I want the occupation to blow me up like the Palestinian writer and politician, Ghassan Kanafani, and for history to remember me.

But as I sat with Mais in the tent, I thought, I will not get to choose how I die, and the Israeli Occupation Forces will not plan their assassination of me. Rather, they will kill me in a massacre along with others, and my body will rot together with theirs. No one will be able to cry for me over my body.

I often wonder, if you die and no one finds your body, will anyone know that you have died? Did you even exist if you have no body to show as evidence of your life?

To die with a full body in Gaza is a luxury

Death plays a puzzle game with us; the missile shatters your small body; you are now in pieces; those who know you were killed must now try to piece you back together into the image you once were.

My friend Buthaina had beautiful blue eyes and a heart as open as a daffodil. She was a calm person.

The occupation killed her in a surprise raid on her house. Her dreams of medical school were killed along with her. When I saw a photograph of her body, I could not believe how her eyes had turned black — but she was still so beautiful.

Did the missile shoot black ink into your eyes?

I rejected all the images I saw of my friend after they tried to put her back together. I wanted to keep an image of her whole body in my mind. The photo I have of her is of a young woman in her twenties, light-skinned, with blue eyes: she looks like a sunflower. She stands proud, dressed for medical school.

Her blue eyes turned black.

I refuse to believe she is dead.

Why was she killed while preparing for medical school exams? How was she deprived of life when her profession is to save lives?

I didn’t get to cry for her. I didn’t get to walk in her funeral. I didn’t get to put her complete body in a grave and visit it every day and lay a rose. I didn’t get to keep her lab coat.

The day Buthaina died, I decided I wanted to be immortal. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing what had been done to my friend and what might be done to me.

When I heard the news I was walking back to my tent from baking bread. Once inside, I threw down my bag and the bread, peeled off my jacket, kicked off my Nikes, and sat down and cried.

This genocide has turned us all into orphans. It has turned the sky into a city of lost children and missing people, unable to be found, unable to be grieved, unable to be whole, living bodies again.

Bread of Taboon by Sliman Mansour 1983 - Purchased by Liberation Graphics, hosted by the Palestine Poster Project
ديما دلول
Artwork: "Perseverance" by Sliman Mansour
ديما دلول
Rafah. Credit: Mohammed Talatene/dpa/Alamy Live News
ديما دلول
Artwork: Sliman Mansour
ديما دلول
Palestinians mourn their relatives at a cemetery in Deir el-Balah, Gaza. [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]
مساهمة مجهولة
مصدر الصورة: معتز عزايزة
يمنى حميدي