Just the thought of it ceases the rush around us, immerses us into beautiful memories and drowns our hearts in longing. Its comfort, security and love left behind, we embark on student life; living with strangers, keeping everything locked, managing budgets, planning where and how to get every meal, allotting time to do laundry and clean the room—rarely having time to think of it, yet many a times intentionally avoiding thoughts of it, but surely, it lingers constantly in each of our minds…
The advice of a father, the kiss of a mother, the laughter of a younger sister, the fights with a brother, the family discussions, the meals together, the airport reunions, the waking up to sumptuous breakfasts, the peaceful sleep knowing that everything’s taken care of for you… truly, there’s no place like home.
Screaming with the agony of loss, they held on to the corpses of their family scattered through the streets… drenched in their blood as they embraced them, crying for them to come back, this was the last exchange between too many parents and children, husbands and wives, and siblings in Gaza. Children sat crying around their mother’s body for four days, trying to wake her up, not understanding why she was sleeping so long. Orphans wept throughout the city, no one coming to claim them, not knowing that they had no one left. Thousands of others with throbbing gunshot wounds, hanging limbs or phosphorous burns flooded the hospitals, the doctors not sleeping for 15 days because the patients were too many. Every few hours there were fresh announcements of death in the wards, and another anxious parent or relative or spouse fell down with grief.
Years of hard work and sacrifice blown to bits, many sat solitarily on the ruins or ashes of what was once their shop or their house or their farm… their palms held tightly against their faces, they wept miserably as memories blazed in front of their eyes— no mother to bid them goodbye to school, no father working in the shop with them, no spouse waiting at home with a surprise, no little cousins playing in the garden, no house to clean, no olives to sell… in the blaring sirens of ambulances, screams and smoke, they were hit with the most excruciating realisation… that there is no place like home… anymore.
“Praise be to Allah who has provided us with food and drink, sufficed us and gave us an abode, for how many there are with no provision and with no home.” (Sahih Muslim: “Supplication Before Sleeping”)
[First published in 2009]