Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1208, (7 - 13 August 2014)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1208, (7 - 13 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

When mourning becomes reawakening

Gazan fathers and mothers are being forced into a space that is beyond normal human imagining, obliged to draw strength from death itself, writes Shah Alam Khan

Al-Ahram Weekly

Do we know how to mourn the dead? Do we know how to laugh in grief and then all of a sudden cry with pain that’s unbearable? Do we know the feel of the cold nozzle of a Kalashnikov on a sweaty forehead? Have we ever heard the explosion of a phosphorus bomb in the house next-door, neighbours included? How many of us can identify the smell of human flesh — raw, burnt, but still human? Welcome to Gaza!

The story of Gaza 2014 is the story of four-year-old Mohamed Khalaf Al-Nawasra, of the five-year-old Abdallah Abu Ghazi, of the 10 year old Bassem Salem Kawareh, of the four-year-old Saher Abou Namous and of other innumerable little angels who were born on a piece of land that they thought was their home. Where else can a five-year-old be more secure than within the four walls of his house? In an era in which child rights, child abuse and children’s safety take centre stage, we hear that the four-year-old Khalaf was brought to the hospital “in shreds”.

Silence is unthinkable!

Gaza of 2014 has given a new meaning to mourning. Last week, a Palestinian friend wrote, “For us mourning is a reawakening.” It appears that for the people of Gaza, perception of grief is a perception of hope, or how else can we explain the sustenance of life amidst so much pain and sorrow? How can we justify the beating of hearts and warmness of breath when there is so much rubble around — rubble which includes houses, schools, dolls, children, mothers, dreams and hope.

Gaza is synonymous with grief. But isn’t grief painful? Grief is fear. Grief is horror. But grief being a “reawakening” is something that is beyond normal human perspicacity. Who cannot understand the anguish of losing a child? How then are the mums and dads of Gaza surviving? Grief, as we all perceive, is indulgent and comes in waves. In cycles of depression, anger, depression and more anger. The brave people of Gaza seem to have a new way to celebrate their dead children. Reawakening!

Israel can pound this stretch of 25 miles with more phosphorus bombs. It can further fence up the cage that is Gaza, but the courage of the Palestinian mothers and fathers stands extraordinary. Surely Gaza is the land of the reawakened! Gaza is the land of the valiant! The hellholes of war can have no better extinguishers than those who are enlightened by the blood of their loved ones. The UN declared 2014 as the “Year of UN Solidarity with the People of Palestine.” The solidarity of Palestinians with death and the dead is heart-warming.


The writer is additional professor at the Department of Orthopaedics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi.

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