Will I Ever Get Out
by: Nour Al Sousi
translated by: Mohammed Rabah Suliman
And now, caught, here I am. The battery indicator of my cell phone refers to a half-empty battery. Hopeless is my case, for the network will never respond to my persistent attempts to call one of them.
This very cell phone was my gift for passing my secondary school with excellence: it was my father’s way of expressing his overwhelming joyfulness on that day. And I do remember when he reminded me of my future dream as he said: “Oh, at last! I’ll see you that doctor I always dreamed of, Said. At last, I’ll do”
I was, then, expected to pursue my university studies abroad, but it seemed that fate wanted it another way. The mere idea of me leaving this country and never coming back again was out of question for my parents. They wanted me to stay. And I, therefore, had no choice but to join the Faculty of Medicine here, in Gaza. To tell the truth, it was not bad as I had expected. Not at all. All that which had muddled our life and made it intolerable, then, was nothing other than those regular power failures, the food price crisis, the continuing closure of the borders that kept my uncle from traveling abroad, and the transportation crisis. Only this and nothing more.
Oh, how happy those days seem to be when compared to these days!
Never mind, it won’t take longer than one hour.
A year has passed. Our home has been shelled. Most of our home hasn’t been damaged; one room has. My father happened to be inside that room.
A year has passed, and I still keep myself away from that room. Since then, I feel myself as if I can smell it.
Even here— in my confined room— I smell it. I smell burnt meat!
My agony was great, greater than to be relieved in tears. And, I didn’t cry over the death of my father.
All of a sudden, I have become the sole provider for my family. It wasn’t necessary to go on looking of some work here or there, for I had been doing so for long until somebody hissed in my ears: “come and work with me, Said, you’ll never find a better job than working in digging up the tunnels!”
A low-battery indicator never stops irking me.
Raising her blessed hands in prayer, my mother prayed for me. She prayed for me not knowing what sort of work I was doing. After all, she couldn’t tolerate the view of her children going to bed with empty stomachs. She could not.
We have begun digging. And so have the sands begun falling from the sky— from the dark sky of the dark tunnel. Although masked as I am, the sands could feel their way through the mask into my mouth, and drinking some water has worsened the situation. My mates laughed, unmasked: “You’ll get used to this, soon.”
I got my mind off them. I mused over the sea where I used to spend most of my time diving— this was one of my hobbies— one cold drop of sweat awakened me; it tore its way down on my back. Even this little drop was contaminated with the sands.
My cell phone is moaning. It stands rebellious, and dies, rebellious.
I am just wondering for how much time I have been stuck here in the bosom of this tunnel. My mates have gone out and left me alone. My mother’s prayers have done me no good. The tunnel collapsed over the gate before I could make it out.
They will come to save me out of here, for sure.
I feel the bitter cold piercing at my bones. And I feel the warmth of the earth from under my feet as though it were batting me to sleep. In the horizon, there seems to be a light coming. From far. I feel as if I will touch it.
A hymn. I can hear a hymn now. My mother’s prayer. My sister’s empty-stomach. The smell of burned meat. And the flavour of the sea water.