This is the fifth day of the Israeli military operation on Gaza called ‘Cast Lead’. Horror and destruction is everywhere. There are things that are not well reported in the news, feelings!! I have three children, a daughter Nour who is 14, a son Adam who is 9 and another son Ali who is 3. We live in an area in Gaza city that used to be described ‘safe’. Nowhere is safe anymore. My children cannot sleep and I cannot help them. The feelings of helplessness and guilt (which always accompanies your inability to protect or at least comfort your children) are stronger than those of fear and horror. My daughter was telling a journalist on the phone yesterday that she had never got the real support she sought from me whenever there was a shelling. I was shocked!! I felt so guilty because my daughter felt my fears. But is it not normal to be scared after all?! Adam is asthmatic and he uses a ventilator. Due to the stress and the pollution resulting from rubbles, he is getting more frequent asthma attacks and there is no electricity for his ventilator. Each time he has an attack, we have to put the generator on for him and then put it off. There is no enough fuel to keep the generator on and we have no idea till when this is going to continue. Ali has no idea what this is all about. All what he does is scream in fear whenever there is a bombing and when it is over, he uses his imagination to tell stories about ‘qasef – bombing’. The kids do not sleep. We spend our days and nights in one single room with my sister in law and her daughter. You feel the stress and fear. You can see it on everyone’s face.
Last night I was thinking about all this. I do not want anyone of my family to get hurt and I thought if anything should happen, I pray it happens to me and not my kids. Then I thought I do not want my kids to see me torn into pieces. The scenes on tv of people killed are so terrifying and I know what it means for children to see such thing. What I really want is for all this to end and for me and my kids to live just like anyone else in the world. I want to get rid of the feeling of guilt towards my kids. Was I mistaken to have kids in the first place? Do not I have the right to be a mother? But am I really doing a good mother’s ‘job’ in being the source of comfort for my kids. I know it is not my fault but I knew also that I live in Gaza and Gaza has never been a healthy environment to raise children. Was I that selfish to think about my own feeling to want to be a mother and ignoring my expected failure to protect my kids?
Nirmeen Kharma Elsarraj
Via her sister Rania Kharma