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A conversation between me and my son

April 28th, 2009

Najwa Sheikh Ahmed

Sometimes I wonder from the children’s capacity to say the truth without any retouches, so easily, so spontaneously. Their simple words can be wiser than the words of an adult, without any need to think, revise, their words struck you strongly, until you realize that these children are speaking and thinking not like normal children, but more like a sole that is tormented, reshaped with the experiences, horrors, and life they lived.

I was backing some biscuits for my children yesterday, as they were going to a trip supervised by their school, they were very happy, and excited from the idea of going to this trip, though it was postponed many times. However, the idea of joining their class mates and spending a day outside the school, without having any homework, sounded worthwhile in this hot weather.

My son Mustafa grabbed a chair and sat in the kitchen watching me, he said “ I like watching you mom, I wanted to learn how to cook”, I told him to leave the kitchen and to join his other brothers at the saloon, playing with them, but he said “ no, it is my right to learn, isn’t it”, Then he asked me “mother, do you know what is the right that we can not practice here in Gaza”, I smiled without answering him, suddenly Ahmed who was playing with his sister at the saloon rushed into the kitchen to answer his brother’s question and said” the right to live”. However, it seems that it was not the answer that Mustafa was thinking of, and he commented” but we are still living in Gaza” “I am talking about the right to travel, the freedom of movement without any restrictions, without any borders, without any closers”. Then in a strong sound he was addressing his words to his brother Ahmed and continued as if he was making a speech, “we are living in a prison Ahmed, a prison called Gaza, you think that you are free, while in fact you are not”. “Being able to leave the house, to visit your friends, to go to school does not mean that you are free”.

At that moment I interrupted Mustafa and said “but son you are free inside Gaza, think of those at the Israeli prisons, who are locked in a small cold, stinky room, who can barely see the sun, or know the time, who are forgotten behind the bars, and who spend years and sometimes all of their lives inside this prison. Think of those who had children but never had the chance to see them, to be their for them, to share them these nice conversations as we did now”.

Both of my sons were listening carefully to my words, to the extent that I felt they were overdosed with my words. But then Mustafa break the silence and said “mother you don’t have to be in a small, dark room to be in a prison” “The prison here-pointed to his head and heart, and this is the real prison, it is even more painful than the Israeli prisons”

The conversation was very interesting but painful at the same time. Painful because these children are shaped by what is going around them, the closure, the frequent Israeli operations, the risks that they have to live in Gaza changes their perspectives to many issues that I remember never think of when I was in their age. My childhood was not so easy, I never had the privileges that my children had these days, but I was happy as a child of that time, I was happy with the ball made of old socks, happy with the doll made of some wooden pieces, or of some old cloth. I did not have a computer, or internet, or even a TV but I had my childish acts, my childish nature. I did not think of politics, the term was not originally included in my dictionary, I did know the difference between A and Z, for me they were the same, no matter what.

I hope that a day will come when my children and the children of Gaza will be real children, and will not care about other things that would affect the fact that they are children and nothing else.

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From Najwa Sheikh Ahmed, Nusierat Camp, Gaza Strip. Najwa Sheikh's blog: http://www.najwa.tk/

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