Rana Shubair

In Gaza, writing Heals

I’m a survivor. Not only of recurring Israeli military attacks, but a survivor of being a resident of Gaza. 

But what does it mean to be from Gaza? To live there. To be besieged (under military siege) in a big cage, or an open-air prison, or yet a concentration camp. Amidst the chaotic life of instability, fear and unpredictability. The fear of the unknown. The claustrophobia from being locked up denied freedom of movement. The many times when our souls become disheartened from the daily pressures of seeing people suffering, getting killed in wars, poverty,…

How can a writer thrive in this kind of environment? Is writing even considered a necessity under such circumstances?

Being an authentic writer under all this is daunting. But to me, it has also provided relief in many ways. There were many nights when I had to carry my heavy loads with me to sleep. In those time, writing was my cathartic ritual. 

What loads?  

The people of Gaza are news people. We don’t make headlines in Western media, but we do follow the news day and night. We carry the stories we hear with us wherever we go. The man who was shot at an Israeli military checkpoint somewhere in the West Bank, the child prisoners inside Israeli prisons, the Palestinian man who was forced to demolish his own home or pay for the demolition fees, the burned olive trees, the land theft, the settler gangs desecrating our holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, the list is long. 

So where does this barrage of heavy news reside? How do we cope and heal? People have different ways. For writers, ones from Gaza, they write and try to communicate those stories to the outside world that exists out there. The media fails to report our stories. The stories of love, of sacrifice, of the will to find a way to live a decent life in freedom. We want the world to know that the Palestinians are a proud nation. Love of our land is kindled in our hearts. This could come from listening to a patriotic song, or by contemplating the sea gulls. We want to cultivate it and plant the olive and palm trees safely. We want to enjoy the evening stars without fearing that a rocket may come down and obliterate lives. We want to travel and see other nations, but know that we would always have a home to return to. A home called Palestine.       

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