Wesam Almadani is a writer, activist, and ICORN resident in Larvik, and has published the novel The Body’s Schizophrenia, as well as several poetry and short story collections. Almadani’s literary works have been translated into English, Norwegian, Swedish, Hebrew, and Italian.
‘My mother tries to calm me down with a trembling voice. I know that she is lying.’
Since the Israel Defence Force spokesman talked about the bombing of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital where hundreds were killed, I have not written anything. I couldn’t write. I wanted to scream but my voice was stuck in my throat. The feeling of helplessness, oppression, and that everything is pointless took over me. Why does only one side have the right to tell the story?
Why did the world react like this to the news of the killings of Israeli children on October 7th, while on the other side 1873 Palestinian children have been killed and nothing has happened?
If the deaths of 1873 children do not mobilise the world- will my words?
Those who live, or have relatives, in Gaza have developed something we call ‘telephone phobia’. Every time the phone rang, my whole body shook- who has died this time?
My friends have told me they have the same experience. So, we avoid contact with each other.
The sounds become quieter. I get less and less news from Gaza, even though the bombing never stops. Maybe there are problems with the internet connection, or social media censorship prevents us from getting information. Maybe there is no one left, or maybe we have simply become deaf.
In this war, words have changed their meaning. Silence has become an explanation for suppressed screams. Black is no longer the colour of the night. As the bombing lights up the sky day and night, Gaza is in constant daylight.
I no longer remember what day it is. In war, a day equals a thousand years. My family and other people are sitting along the roads, at the doors of hospitals, in UNRWA schools, in what is left of their homes, watching the bombs, and waiting their turn. Even their right to news about the war and the targeted areas is lost due to power outages and internet problems.
I lost contact with my father’s family and sisters four days ago. We know nothing about them, except that their area is being bombed. We still know nothing about my elderly uncle and his family. All I do is follow the pictures and videos coming from Gaza. Maybe I will see someone I know. I follow the lists of the dead.
Yes, I dare do it. But my body will not stop shaking and denying everything that is happening.
My mother tries to reassure me with a trembling voice, saying that they are fine and have everything they need. I know that she is lying, and she knows it too. But we don’t discuss it.
On Friday night, I received a message from my cousin and childhood friend: ‘Please help me leave this country’. I did not know how to answer. It doesn’t matter anyway as she hasn’t bene online since then and hasn’t read my reply.
My friend Jihan logs into Facebook every day, writes the date and just one word ‘Alive’. Then she disconnects from the internet.
My friend Youssef wrote: ‘My sister Shaima (who is eight months pregnant), her husband, and their daughter Marwa are dead’. My Facebook page has become like a graveyard, filled with dead people I both know and don’t know.
Recently, Israel bombed The Church of Saint Porphyrius, the oldest church in the area, and one of the oldest churches in the world.
Yes, Israel bombed schools, hospitals, churches, mosques, and even areas to which they told people to move. The bombs follow the principle of equality in destruction. They kill everyone and everything.
Among what is lost is my belief in all the rights I have fought for.
Humanity is represented by a paramedic from Gaza who holds a dead infant in her arms, reassuring her that everything is going to be okay. Humanity is a doctor who receives the bodies of his own family along with the victims of the bombing, and yet continues to do his work amid weeping that is impossible to suppress.
Motherhood is a woman screaming and losing her mind because her children who were killed by the bombs were hungry.
Love is a six-year-old child sitting next to his dead mother and waiting. There is a father who carries what is left of his children in bags, so that he can bury them together.
What we see in Gaza today is massacre, genocide, and ethnic cleansing. This small area, which does not even have the status of a state, has exposed our double standards to ourselves. We have exposed our own hypocrisy.
While all this is happening in Gaza, members of the US Congress are holding press conferences in Tel Aviv, claiming that Gazans will have a better life after Hamas is eliminated and peace prevails.
A better life without almost 5000 people, including fathers, mothers, children, doctors, journalists, and many more. Tens of thousands have been seriously injured, many of them left with disabilities. Residential areas and infrastructure have been reduced to dust.
What are they really talking about?
Yes, I forgot about that. To them, we are just number. We are seen and described as barbarians, animals, and anything else that can dehumanise us.
A poem by Wesam Almadani:
ظننتني أمتلك القدرة على الطيران أو هذا ما أوهمتني به الأجنحة.
عند القفزة الأولى صعد كل شي نحو سماء تعج بالصواريخ، وسقطت أنا في واقعٍ مجرم عزلتني عنه المخيلة طيلة الوقت.
يسألني ذهني المشوش هل أنا بخير؟
ما معنى أن أكون بخير؟ تختلط اللغة عليَّ. للغة واقع موازٍ يشبه واقعنا هذا،
تُعتقل، تُقتل وتُعامل بعنصرية مفرطة.
إن استخدمت الكلمات بدل الدموع للبكاء، ماذا ستستخدم هي؟
ما معنى أن أكون بخير؟ ما الخير في كل هذا؟
أن تحيا يعني أن تعلق و تتورط أكثر في المجزرة، وهكذا تورطت.
ما الذي أُدافع عنه؟
تقسمون الضحايا الى فِرق كما نفعل في مبارايات كرة القدم.
عدد الجثث لا يحدد المجرم.
الروايات كلها غير صحيحة.
الأرض الغارقة بدماء الغرباء و دماء أولادها، لا تريد التورط أكثر.
هل سأل أحدهم الكرة عن رأيها؟
أن تحمل كاميرا لا يجعلك حرا.
أن تكتب وتدافع لا يجعلك حرا.
أن تهدهد جثة طفل لا يجعلك حرا.
كيف أكون حرا إذن؟
تسألني طفلتي، و تحتفظ أجوبتي كلها بصمتها.
أرجع خطوة للوراء. الرجوع لمنطقة الاله أصمت مثله .
لن ألعن صمته أو أبرره.
أنا منهك .
الانتظار يمتص روحي أكثر وأكثر.
أجنحتي المنتوفة تسير خلفي بولاء مفرط.
تظنني سأعيدها إليَّ.
ولا أظنني سأفعل شيء مطلقا.
الصامت عن الحق شيطان أخرس.
أضحك، لا يوجد في هذا العالم من هو أكثر شيطنة من البشر.
- ألسنا بشر!
تحاصرني ابنتي بالاسئلة.
كي أكون حرا عليَّ تحرير لغتي أولا.
عليَّ أن اصمت ، أدس الجثث كلها في فمي . أطعهما وأرعاها علّها تعود مجددا
The author's Norwegian translation:
Trodde jeg hadde evnen til å fly, eller er det mine vinger som lurte meg
til å tro.
Ved det første hoppet forlater alt meg ,
opp mot en himmel full av missiler,
og jeg falt ned i en brutal virkelighet.
Den virkeligheten, som fantasien min hadde beskyttet meg fra, .
Min forvirret hjernen, spør meg:
Går det bra med deg? Hva betyr det å ha det bra?
Spraket blandes for meg.
Språket har en parallell virkelighet som ligner vår egen, der språket blir
arrestert, drept, og diskriminert.
Hvis jeg bruker ordene i stedet for tårer, til å gråte, Hvordan vil språket gråte?
Hva betyr det å ha det bra? Hva er det gode i alt dette?
Å leve betyr å bli mer involvert og innblandet i massakren,
og så ble jeg involvert.
Hva forsvarer jeg?
De deler ofrene, som vi gjør, i fotballkamper.
Antall lik definerer ikke forbryteren.
Alle historiene er feil.
Jorden druknes i sine barns blod og fremmedes blod.
Den ønsker ikke å bli mer involvert.
Har noen noen gang spurt ballen om meningene sine?
Å bære et kamera gjør deg ikke fri.
Å skrive om ofrenes historier gjør deg ikke fri.
Å vugge et barns kropp gjør deg ikke fri.
- Hvordan kan jeg bli fri da?
Min datter spør meg, men svarene mine
Jeg tar et skritt tilbake.
Vender tilbake til Guds sted, jeg forblir stille som ham.
Jeg vil ikke forbanne eller rettferdiggjøre Guds taushet.
Jeg er utmattet.
Ventingen suger mer og mer av min sjel.
Mine avrevne vinger følger meg lojalt.
De tror jeg ønsker å få dem tilbake .
Jeg tror ikke at jeg vil gjøre noe i det hele tatt.
Folk pleier å si :
"Den som tier om rettferdighet er en djevel."
det er ingen i denne verden som er mer djevelsk enn mennesker.
- Er vi ikke mennesker?
Min datters spørsmål omringer meg.
For å være fri må jeg først frigjøre mitt eget språk.
Jeg må tie, fylle munnen min med alle likene.
Mate dem og pleie dem, slik at de kan komme tilbake til liv.