Gaza’s Ramadan this year is like a pale, sick man. Gaza’s Ramadan this year erases my father’s compliment that I’m his serene, sane child. I just might go insane, I struggle to survive. When left with nothing, you struggle to strive. This Ramadan has different tastes, full of hard and complex tests. Peace, tranquility, safety, mercy, compassion, calmness, kindness, hope, life’s passion. No longer knowing what Ramadan means, no good symbols on which to lean. But the mingling of musaharati and bombardment’s voice melt my inside ice, and I regain my hope of living twice.

Strength, courage, faith, daring. Challenges, adventures, glories for sharing. Miracles and triumphs, synonyms for Ramadan.
I can’t figure out if I am a genocide survivor or a genocide victim. I never experienced anything like this and I hope I never will again.
Heartless and numb though we have become, our memories electric shocks to keep us alive, our last resort to help us survive.

Unremitting flashbacks and fleeting images of previous Ramadans bringing me endless waves of nostalgia. A rare feeling that causes me to breathe in and exhale with a moan, filled with all the painful grief seeping from my heart. I regrettably succumb to the magnitude of hopelessness as desperate pauses, long sighs of despair, and fast heartbeats pull me down once again to the unknown.

We question ourselves every time we blink: we will make it out alive or not? Is it still possible to regain hope of living?
Such dark tones and such grim questions have weakened us; we indulge in retrospection and illusions. Time has lost us and we are in the nowhere.

As Ramadan nights close in, I see those whose hearts have been laden with bits of illusive hope become more fragile. Night doesn’t bring about peace and tranquility anymore; it sorrowfully triggers an unsavory feeling of uncertainty and anxiety. Nights foster guilt. As parents put their kids to sleep, with a blank look they wonder about the next day’s impossible mission. They know the answer to their child’s questions won’t be adequate. They know they’re hopeless and hope is an illusion that one leans on to die slowly.

Every time I fantasize about a ceasefire declaration, I am inundated with an eerie feeling of skepticism. Shall I celebrate myself for being a survivor or blame myself instead? Shall I mourn the ones I lost, or weep for the memories I cannot retrieve? Shall I stand in the cemetery of those who entrusted their dreams to me and sing a song of lament? To live has turned into a glum task recorded in our collective story of melancholy.

I have nothing to hang on but my education. I really want to be a dentist. I want to draw the smiles again on my people’s eyes and faces.
One year away from my graduation, it has never just been about those 7 letters. Graduation means life, hope, strength, dignity, healing, in my head and in my heart. One day, somehow, we will return to our home and lands.

I promise you, we will rebuild Gaza, not more beautiful but beautiful as it was because it was beautiful. Maybe we are not the greatest nation, but I do not think there’s a nation greater than us. We will recover because recovery is in our DNA. We have experience with recovery. We have experience with resurrection. We will survive because survival is in our DNA.

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