Safety is a state of mind
My father just called. I have learned to expect that the 9pm call is not a jovial one: it is usually to alert me of some awful thing transpiring around them. It helps, in whatever way, to broadcast this event that has yet to be broadcast to the world, to whomever you can. In this case, that person is me.
I see the number on my caller ID; my heart races. I answer my cell phone.
"We ...are under..heavy bombardment. Heavy bombardment" says my father in terrified, articulated syllables.
"They are bombing the Legislative Council building next to our house. They are bombing just down our street."
"Baba...are you safe, are you both safe??" I ask, not knowing what else to say.
"I have to go now..I have to go...i just wanted to tell you that..but I have to go..." he stammers. And the line goes dead.
We have figured out a system. When the electricity is back on in Gaza- which has happened for one hour during the past 48, my parents get on Skype immediately. If I am not around, they give me a quick call from their landline to let me know they are back on; they have 2-3 hours of back-up generator time after this. They stocked up on fuel during the past few weeks.
Then, it is dark again.
When the bombs are dropped around them, they send me a quick note to inform me of what happened before running to safety. I am still not sure where "safety" is; and neither, I think, do they. It is perhaps more a mental state and place than a physical one. In any other situations, people flee to where they perceive are safer locations. In Gaza, there is no "safe". And there is no where to flee to, with the borders closed, the sky and sea under siege.
This afternoon, we had a brief exchange.
[1:56:04 PM] moussa.elhaddad says: F16 and Apaches are in the sky of GAZA now
[1:56:16 PM] moussa.elhaddad says: FIVE new explosions
[1:57:58 PM] moussa.elhaddad says: One near Al-Nasr hospital, two behind our house. Money exchangers ( Al-Bar3asy and Hirzallah ) two other explosions a little bit far away.
Yesterday, my uncle's neighbor's home was leveled. Luckily, no one was hurt. But all 50 occupants were made homeless. They were out on the streets with nothing but their backs. Each had to find shelter with a different relative.
This morning, we appeared together on NPR- WUBR's Here and Now. There was as surreal quality to it. And for a few moments, we were in that "safe" place together, on some distant, sterile air waves. It is windy and cold today in Durham. I shiver when the shutters shake. and I think of Gaza. I think of home.