The despair of a Gazan in exile


GAZA under attack
Artist: Maram Hasaba. Photo courtesy of the Palestine Poster Project Archives.

I can’t keep pretending that I am strong enough to take it all in. I am overwhelmed by the relentless onslaught of despair. It’s become impossible to feign strength in the face of such heart-wrenching news. Stories of brutal murders and cities reduced to ruins haunt my thoughts. The once vibrant streets I used to walk, now lie lifeless and gray, overshadowed by death. The sea remains, untouched by bombs, a silent witness to our collective pain.

Every word I utter feels like a potential mistake, as I struggle not to be dehumanized. I find myself constantly reaffirming our shared humanity, emphasizing our rights, lives, and dreams being stolen away, minute by minute.

When I go back home, I’ll meet a city I don’t recognize. But the sea is still there, standing steadfast. My decision to come to [the United States to study] weighs heavily on me; it feels selfish. I long to be with my family, to shield them from harm. My brothers asked for soccer gloves; my sisters desired some makeup items as gifts. But I fear I might lose my family at any time, and my gifts might end up with no one to receive them.

The feeling of helplessness is suffocating. I wish desperately for the ability to change things, but my exhaustion is all-consuming. Pretending to be strong was once my shield, but even that facade crumbles under the weight of this despair. I am not strong; I am just good at pretending. But even that talent eludes me now. I can’t keep pretending.

Oct. 1 7, 2023

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