I watched you last night. There you were on my TV screen. At first, I thought you had only lost one eye. Until the camera zoomed into your little face and I realised you had lost both. Lost all of your sight. The camera showed you lashing at your brothers and father, I could sense your words full of anger and frustration, but not to your family. To your situation. You admitted that you became like this after getting injured. After the Gaza Massacre. At one point I wasn’t listening to what you were saying. I was looking at you. Focusing on how you were sitting on the bare ground of your home that I could see, but you couldn’t.
You said you wished you lost a limb instead of your eyes. You said you wish you were dead instead.
But you said it with anger. You didn’t mean any of it, but they were the thoughts that went through your head at times. The fact that you would rather be dead, than be blind and look weak in others eyes. Would you believe me if I told you that not one single Israeli can amount to the strength and courage you have in your heart? In any Palestinian child’s heart?
They showed you later on, having woke up from your bed, or rather the layers of duvet on concrete, and came out of your room, your brothers laughing and teasing you “bedshitter”. You swore at them with frustration like before. Then when asked, looking down at the floor you said sometimes you wake up from bad dreams, wet the bed and that it’s very embarrassing for you. I wonder, what must you see so vividly in your nightmares that you no longer see with your eyes that make you wet your bed. The images that your subconscious show you. Is it the Massacre that haunts you? Is it the sound of the bombs, the sound of the planes swooping low? Explosions of white phosphorus? The lifeless bodies? Or is it the moment you were injured, the moment you could no longer see?
I saw your friend who also had been injured with you in the Gaza Massacre, with a missing finger. You smiled, for the first time on my TV screen, you smiled and said you two were very good friends. Your smile was reflected on my face. I was pleased. I was pleased that even though you live in darkness, you were trying to do what every child does. Trying to have a childhood. Trying to ride a bike. Your friend was teaching you and I was glad. I hope now that you can ride a bike. Can you? You may need someone to guide you, can I guide you? Can I lead you from behind? If you fall, can I help you up? Wipe your dusty knees and scuffle your hair? Kiss your cheek?
You said you wanted to see the farms, trees, strawberry fields, plants, flowers and smell the sweet smell of Palestine. And so I cried. Like I cried for Huda I began to cry for you.
And right then, I wanted you to be next to you. I wanted to have your head under my arm and have you rest next to me. Silently. Then take your hand and lead you to a strawberry farm. Describe the shades of green and red, the shapes of the clouds in the sky, tell if if you’ve picked ripe strawberries and maybe tease you a little with a sour one. If I did that, if I could do that, would you be able to forget what happened? Even for second could you imagine that you could see and you never lost your sight? That the Gaza massacre never happened?
Or would it make it even worse? Would you hate me for bringing you to a place of beauty you couldn’t see? Would you shout and hit me for reminding you that your sight has been stolen? Would you run away swearing at me? Or would you let go of my hand and ask for me to give you your sight back?
Because I would.
I would give you my own eyes Loah. I would give you my own eyes.
Watch Loay aged 10, and the children of Gaza War Child here.