Rana Shubair

Mornings in Gaza

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It’s morning, and I’m having my coffee. I like it warm. In fact, one of the things that irritates me is leaving coffee to turn cold. Coffee is a ritual for me. It tells me it’s time to sit down, slow the pace and savor the moment. I can’t chug it, or drink part of it and leave the rest. During those moments while I’m sipping thoughtfully, the world is on hold. I’m usually reading something or just sitting quietly embracing the quietude of the morning before the sounds of life invade. Years back when my kids were still very young, I made sure to wake up at least an hour before they did, so I could have my coffee undisturbed. 

Listening in to something as ordinary as the sounds of morning may seem mundane to many. But for someone living in Gaza, it is not something to be underestimated. No small amount of peace is taken for granted. I know what it’s like to wake up to the blasts of bombings. Then to the frenzied shrieks of horror. Then to the sirens of ambulances. Then to the silence of death. So yes, I want to enjoy the bliss of morning solitude today.

The sounds of nature are reassuring, if only they weren’t disrupted by warplanes. How blue the sky would be. A blue that relieves my strained eyes, and soothes my despondent soul. The calmness that pervades as the morning sun slowly ushers a new day. No power can stop it from rising. No evil hand can block it. It’s for me to meditate. To embrace its rays that tickle my face.

And when night falls, the magic still permeates every corner. I dare to stand at my window because I hear absolute silence. No Israeli drone buzzing above to remind me of the wars. The light rustling of my neighbor’s palm tree leaves. The distant chirping of crickets. The hooting of an owl. The flapping of a bat. It’s all the nocturnal chorus that dominates. I seize those moments and absorb it all. I exhale in relief. Let the stars and the moon beam their light upon me. Let it invigorate my soul and revive my heart. Let it announce that God’s creation in this universe is our healing. Let the shooting stars obliterate the midnight vultures who continue to intrude upon us. Let nature’s symphony play until the sun revisits our mornings.  

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