Messages from Gaza Now – November 2023 – Disabled Words

Disabled Words

Hossam in Gaza

23 November 2023

What can words do when you feel they are unable to describe, explain, to express a feeling or an event?

It is almost 10 days now without writing anything. There are many things I want to talk about but words are disabled, words will not reflect what I see, what I feel, what I want to tell about.

Yesterday I was at the clinic waiting for my colleagues, the counsellors, to hand over to them their duties and distribute them to the shelter/schools to provide some psychological support for the children.  One of them was not there.  I asked about him.  Someone told me that something happened: 2 people they host were killed in a bombing.  The person we were talking about, I know his uncle.  His uncle is my friend and I know that he took refuge at their home.  I panicked.  I finished with my colleagues and went there fast to see my friend and find out what has happened.  I arrived.  My friend and my colleague were there sitting outside the house.  Their faces were talking. Their faces said everything.  Their faces told me that something terrible had happened.

My friend told me what happened.  His daughter’s husband and his grandson were killed.  They were taking refuge at the same home but yesterday his daughter’s husband went to see his mother in another home with his extended family.  He took his oldest son, Waseem, a six year old boy.

The home, a building of four floors hosting 37 people was bombed.  They died.  They all died; men, women, boys, girls are dead, all of them.

While he was speaking, his daughter, the one I have known since she was 7 years old was not far away.  She was hanging the clothes of her dead child on the laundry line, as if nothing had happened.  She washed the clothes of her dead son and she put them out to dry in the sun so when he came back he could put them on.

I looked at her and I looked for the words that would explain what she feels, what she thinks.  I did not find the words.  What words can describe this? Damn it, where are the words? Why don’t words help? Words are weak. Words are disabled. Words are crippled.  No words can explain what she feels or thinks.  She lost her husband and her 6 year old son.  The son was found and buried, and the husband was still under the rubble with another 14 out of the 37.

I hate words.  It makes me feel helpless, makes me feel stupid even to think of talking with words about this.

And while we talk they mention Mahmoud, Mahmoud, my friend.  He is the uncle of the husband.  He took refuge at the big family home with his wife and children, his brother and wife and children and their parents.  They were all there.  They all died.

No!  Please, no! Not Mahmoud!  No, he can’t be dead.  I can’t accept this.  Mahmoud did not die.  Mahmoud is alive.  Please tell me he is not dead.  Please.

I met him in Nuseirat market 3 days ago.  We hugged, we talked, we laughed.  You can’t meet Mahmoud and not laugh.  He looks so good, so smart, well-dressed, always with shaved face and shaved head, and a big smile never leaves his face for a single minute.  His beautiful smile fills the air with joy and happiness.  He is the one who makes everybody feel good and relaxed.  Mahmoud’s smile opens all the windows for hope and comfort.  His heart is so big, bigger than the world itself.  He can take all the world in his heart.  He is the one who is always available to help, to support, to solve problems, to be beside people, people that he knows or people that he never met before, he is just available for anyone, as if God created him for others.  He can’t die. Oh God, Mahmoud, my friend.  Why? Why? Why?

After writing this about Mahmoud I feel so bad, very bad.  All these words are nothing.  It tells nothing about my friend.  It makes him small and he is much more.

Words are cursed.  Words are weak.  Words are helpless.  No words can tell what I feel now.  Words won’t say what I want to say about Mahmoud.