Monday noon, the doorbell rings, someone says: the building in the next street will be bombed. Children heard it. Running towards me, putting their slippers on, and taking the stairs down reaching a safer place than my apartment. One missile, two, three and then the fourth along with a huge explosion. The building was down and so were our souls, the dreams and businesses of others residents are all over. “Is it over?” my daughter said. I answered again “ yes” doubtfully. We went back to our apartment, hands shaking, and I prepared the one meal we ate a day.
As a mother, I do not have a space to cry in. I was following the news and I saw photos of children killed, I read the stories, sensed the faces, experienced the pain and the agony. I wanted to cry but my children were looking at me. “Where are you going mum?” my son asked. “To the bathroom” I answered. And there, I collapsed. I cried like a baby, as a mother, as a Palestinian who lived in Gaza for 31 years, witnessed two Intifadas, three wars, tens of escalations and loss of loved ones and places.
A ceasefire was announced tonight. We will go back to sleeping in our rooms instead of the corridor. My daughter is still covering her ears with her hands believing she will not hear bombs and I still hide my tears because it is not the time to collapse. As we plan to leave our home for the first time in 12 days, my children and I have already prepared a list of things we will do once it is over, including wearing Eid Al Fitr clothes that happened to be the third day of the escalation, visiting Al Remal area to eat in a restaurant that my children still do not know it was damaged, going to the sea where the main street was bombed, and visit some recreational sites that were targeted as well. I tell them yes we will do what is on the list - maybe soon or not. Some wishes are seem to be impossible these days, but better to dream than to cry.
Shahd works as a Communications Associate at UNDP office in Gaza.