In memory of my brother, Mohammad – Mondoweiss

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Mohammad’s grave
The line of 30 martyrs
Deir Al-Balah Cemetery
Middle Area, Gaza, Palestine

November 27, 2023

To Mohammad,

I know that I am late. But please forgive me. It has been a week now since that Israeli shrapnel killed you. Last week, in the morning hours, you were alive, my beautiful brother. I miss you a lot.

I never thought that I had all this love for you in my heart. You see, we never stopped fighting. We hated each other. Did we, Mohammad? We rarely agreed upon something. You were very stubborn, and I was even more.

Mohammad, during the day, I go through several confusing states of perception of reality. For a few hours, I am ok with your absence. I feel like you are still there, and whenever I go back to our home, I will see you. But for the next few hours, I am crying. No, the crying comes after a while, actually. First, there is this unfamiliar pain in my heart. It is very ugly. I do not like it. I never felt it before. It is very painful. Like a strange creature awakes in my heart. It inhales and exhales fires. I am aware of its presence even in my tranquilist moments. Then, the idea of never seeing you again in this life attacks me. The dreadful idea that you are no longer breathing. No longer under the sun walking. No longer drenched by the rain. No longer riding your motorbike in the streets of damned Gaza. No longer arguing. And I start crying.

Do you know how I found out about you being killed? You don’t, do you? Do you even know how you were killed, Mohammad? 

What made you go to the farm, Mohammad? Let the sheep die out of starvation. People are being massacred. Sheep are not that valuable, my sweet brother. Bringing hay for them was not that necessary. Let them die, Mohammad. Let all the sheep in the world die. Why were you so thoughtful, my dear? See, the Israelis were not thoughtful with you, Mohammad.

The Israeli army hit our newly and finally completed house with an artillery shell, and a 2-3 mm shrapnel hit you behind your left ear. That’s it. Your soul was taken. Do not worry about the two kids who were with you. Siraj and Amer were severely injured. Amer with broken bones was discharged from the hospital on the same day due to the crises hospitals are witnessing. Siraj underwent surgery and regained consciousness the next day. But they lived. They made it. I am so happy for the poor little two boys. And I am also so happy for you. Angels picked you, Mohammad.

As for how I found out about you being murdered, I was in the metro. Alone. On my way to school. It was 2:00 p.m. Our mum wrote to me on WhatsApp, just as usual, no calls, asking how I was doing? I, like always, write all my answers and questions in one message. I can’t take the risk of sending each sentence on its own with such poor internet connections in Gaza. This way, the guarantee of delivering the message is higher. Then our mum sent one word: “Doaa.”

Right away, I could feel something was coming. Something I am not going to like. The words started pouring down on my brain as follows:

“By the will of God Mohammad became a martyr.”

“Thanks to Allah there was a light in his face.”

“Nothing was there.”

“He went to our farm to bring some hay for the sheep.”

“Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best Proxy.”

That’s it, Mohammad. This is how I found out about you being killed. I wrote, with trembling fingers and watery eyes and surrounded by strangers, to our mum, trying to comfort her. After all, she has just lost a son. Her first among her boys.

“We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.”

“Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best Proxy.”

“No God except Allah.”

Then our mum asked me to forgive you. Can you imagine? Asking me to forgive you? I wanted to exchange my life with yours. Or at least share what is left of mine with you. Why there’s not such a bargain? I am older. I should have died before you. You should have cried over me. Not the other way around, Mohammad. 

I dragged myself out of the metro station up until my class on the Sulaymaniyah campus. When the girls saw me, they got worried and jumped to me, asking what happened. “Is there some bad news?” I tried to convey the news of your martyrdom with as much pride as possible amid my flowing tears and broken sobs. “No, actually, it’s not bad news. My brother this morning became a shahid.” They all burst into tears for you, Mohammad. Then my teacher came and found out the news. For the sake of your beautiful eyes, my brother, my teacher refused to conduct a class. For your beautiful eyes, Mohammad, he recited the Quran. For your beautiful eyes, Mohammad, everyone burst into tears.

How I went back to the dorm, I don’t know. How I was able to deliver the news to people, I don’t know. I cried, Mohammad. My eyes were swollen, and I started to have a headache. In my eyes! Can you believe that, Mohammad? I don’t feel like I cried that much. Seven days have passed, and I still don’t feel that I cried enough for you.

Mohammad, should I hate death for parting us? Or should I hate the Israelis for firing that bomb? Or should I hate the Americans for financing and weaponizing Israel? Or should I hate the Western governments for supporting Israel? Or should I hate the Arab and Muslim leaders for watching Gaza being slaughtered with their arms folded? Well, my lovely brother, I hate them all.

I send you greetings after each prayer. Do you receive them? I am sure you do. I can picture you sitting peacefully, smiling innocently and showing off your perfect teeth, jumping happily when angels deliver my greetings to you, and proudly saying, “I have always known that she loves me.”

I promise I will never stop writing to you. I promise I will never stop sending greetings to you. I promise I will never make peace with any of them, Mohammad.

Doaa

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