Tribute to Mohammed, Ahed, Zakaria, and Mohammed Bakr, murdered by the IDF on a beach in Gaza while playing football, by artist Amir Schiby.
Yesterday I cried my eyes out in my office, sat at my desk frozen in front of a tab open to Facebook, because I didn’t know how to wish a happy 24th birthday to a friend in Gaza. Bombs raining down on her birthday. Everyone on her wall was wishing her a “safe birthday” so I did eventually too, writing to her and saying, I wish I could sit with you in my kitchen and bake a cake for you and make you tea. Hourly you and all in Gaza are in my prayers. She deserves so much more than just a safe birthday.
There are more of us aware and speaking out than there were in 2009, but still so many are silent. Still the world sits and helplessly watches the systematic murder of civilians. I read an Israeli woman on Facebook say all she can do is translate the names of the dead and recite them to honour them, and she asks that others do the same. I wonder as the death toll rises, does she feel tired reading and writing that long list, or is it all that is keeping her going. I feel raw and selfish in my tears. I keep thinking of those four little boys running on the beach in the sun. Of journalist Ayman Mohyeldin kicking a footy around with them minutes before the bombs hit them.
Too much empathy doesn’t help me sleep at night. It is hard at times like this when most of my comrades are somewhere else: other cities, other countries, not amongst my friends here. We reach out to each other online, because for me it is harder to find political care and solidarity in my small city, as blessed as I am with loving friends here. I think briefly, about going back to church. I think of my ancestry, Indigenous resistance and war. Of my tupuna tāne refusing to cede sovereignty.
Today I went to a girlfriend’s baby shower. Feasted and drank, breaking bread in celebration. Baby mamas and baby daddies and baby mamas to be. Touched the soft head of a 5 week old baby girl, held a nearly one year old girl, watched a brother and sister play Lego and fight, rubbed my friend’s pregnant belly. She is due close to my sister whose belly I don’t get to rub, because she too is far from me, in India. How I wish I could be there with her. A friend and mother of three with a newborn talks about missing her belly and says, “Sometimes you wish they were back in your belly where you could keep them safe.” How I long for this experience of motherhood, in a world where the horror sometimes overwhelms me. I came away from this healing time looking forward to welcoming these new babies into the world, and to keep working for peace for all children. Inshallah.