Friday, March 25, 2016

365 days are no longer just a year

Tell me how did you spend the last 365 days? Did you end up getting that job offer? Did you get that scholarship you were working so hard to get? Did you graduate high
school/university or perhaps you just got your pHD! Whatever you achieved I congratulate you! Well I'd like to speak of my 365 days. You know how we always chant the phrase day by day it all seems the same but looking back it's so different. I aged a life time within 365 days. I have experienced so much from fleeing my home to running down a set of 70 stairs in fear of a jet blowing up our third floor. Crying for nights and nights feeling death encircling me to laughing to the sound of explosions. Yes, I have lived some of the worst days of my life but I wouldn't change them for the world. Only now have I realized what an enormous amount of pride comes with being Yemeni.

I am now in my senior year and I have broke down into fits of tears more times than I can count in school due to the sudden air raids but my friends support me with a jolt of strength I've never experienced before. This year everything is so different. once I was crying in class from a mix of fear and stress then suddenly the whole class surrounded me with a group hug and I don't remember feeling so loved in my entire life. This coalition has done and is still doing damage that seems irreparable at time but one thing that no one but them has managed to do is unite this country into one. 

I feel so complete. Now I know I am capable of facing anything life throws at me, I know I am strong enough. I will always have a constant reminder of my strength the blood of the martyrs who sacrificed everything for me to be able to live a life, a life worth living. It's truly quite peculiar how even though death has the key to my back door I sleep safe and sound. I still do get grounded and I still am clumsy you'd think death would make me a bit more graceful but nope! I still am the same girl who runs around tables and makes weird faces at my mom to make her laugh cause oh boy does her laugh make me feel five again.

  365 days are enough to change people's perspectives, their ideologies. 365 days of undeniable strength, of determination. 365 days are no longer just a year.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hope Springs Eternal

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rest and expatiates in a life to come."
This was extracted from, An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope. The writer had a connotation of the concept of life after death, but I've always believed a word can be viewed different every time you read it, that being said I will interpret it.

Our hearts are filled with despair and hope; endless, vast amounts. They originate from our hearts; a spring. Human kind, our race is abundantly enviable we don't discern it. Alas, we are never content. We have our comfort zones, our safe havens that we wish to never retreat from yet we don't value or cherish them. Life forces us to relinquish them at some point.Then and only then do we long for our harbors. Our asylums. But in due course with hope and humility we fathom the significance of the change and we begin to adapt and rest tranquilly.

Hope is an ambiguous topic. An ambivalent matter. You need to set hope against hope in order to enhance it, endure it. I believe there is a thin line between hope and despair. Despair is generated from the absence of faith whilst hope is evolved from the presence of it. What is the median between hope and despair? Those who hope aspire, they aspire to become. Does that mean that despair is associated to individuals who lack aspiration. What if they've been disheartened to a point where they no longer had faith, they no longer had a reason to be. 

To hope one must firstly find faith from within. Faith to acknowledge and sincerely believe that even the deepest wounds heal with time. Despair lies within each of us as does hope. We choose which to polish and showcase and which to conceal and camouflage.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

December 31, 2015

The thing is when I close my eyes tighter، I hear them louder. Shutting down one sense only clarifies another. The speed of light is a thousand times faster than the speed of sound, the only thing faster than that is the rate at which my heart beats. 9 months later and nothing has changed; my mouth dangles and my eyes widen, enlarge and I taste the end, not of this coalition; but of my life. My life that seems to have been ephemeral and now is burdened be.
Looking back on how much I've grown, the only visible difference is how any sound whether cars passing by, motorcycles approaching my neighborhood or one of my siblings slamming the door too fast or strutting harshly in the second floor -or third or fourth-, scares me and makes me tremble to my feet. I've grown accustomed to my realm of vulnerability.
They say there have been over ten thousand air raids on Yemen, I've seen every memory of the past 16 years flash before my eyes at least ten thousand times. With every air raid I remember my mother's warm embrace at 6 and my father's loving arms at 8. My sister's advice at 13 and my brother's fights on daily basis. The last time I laughed till my stomach hurt and cried tears of joy. I then remember God and sometimes think; how bad can it be under his arms, it can't possibly be scarier than here?
With every unannounced burst of light I regret every fight with my dad and argument with my mom. I remorse every time I discarded my sister and boycotted my brother for his "nuisance". As much as that illuminance of light terrifies me, it reminds me how blessed I was and am and will be. Yes, will be; I won't die. I refuse to die, not in their hands. I will live to be 80 and I will make memories enough to heal all the scars made since the 26th of March. I will heal and I will blossom.
Everything seems minuscule and diminutive when compared to death. Your existence, your hopes, your aspirations. You can never really submit to death and accept it, we know it accompanies us wherever we go. Yet we never act like it's tangible we deem it as an "imaginary friend". A friend we only address when we meet face to face. Once we leave its residence, we go back to disregarding it. Whether its a blessing or a curse to become so resilient to death, I'll never know. But for the time being I will dispose the thought of death because I know a burst of light propelled towards me from a jet miles away will not be the death of me. I refuse it to be.
And as 2015 comes to an end I have never been happier to end a chapter in my life. 2015 has been by far the hardest year of my life. Looking back at it, I hit so many milestones and I've reached my highest and lowest points all in the course of 365 days. It's crazy how much one year can do. I met some of the greatest, most inspirational people this year, and for that I am eternally grateful. I was privileged to witness a coalition attack my country first hand whilst having no valid reason to attack. I can't wait to have children one day and tell them all about this year, the longest most fruitful and vain year ever. I can't wait to speak about 2015 in past tense.
Happy New Year

October 11, 2015

 have changed me. 100 felt important 200 just doesn't have a ring to it. It hurts but it doesn't hurt like it used to, not because I grew numb to death, rather I learned that death is like an arch it pulls you back a step -or two- then when it let go's you leap forward with full force. 

200 days means nothing. I feel the same anger and frustration I have been feeling these past six months, every air raid is still as petrifying as the very first one. The only thing that changed is I now know who I am mad at and why I am mad at them.
200 days have made me stronger. I learned that death has a bitter-sweet tang. A taste I sometimes crave. I linger for the way death stares us bluntly in the eyes and leaves us there awaiting a closer encounter.
Everyday that passes is a closer day to the end. 200 days has supported me with faith.
200 days and still counting.

September 9, 2015

I always imagined the light I saw before dying would be that sent from God - bright white with an angel glancing at me, tranquility- not that dropped by an aircraft.
It scares me how many times I've escaped death. I feel every breath of air I breathe is stolen. I feel like a fugitive running from death.
Have you ever touched a dead person? They feel so cold, icy. Gelid. Every missile that hits makes my blood turn cold, my jaw dangles wide open and I can't speak. I try to remind myself that once again I have fled death. Once again I have beat the odds.
Some days I am strong and invincible. Other days like today I am shattered, broken and frail.
I am trying to sleep but the thought of waking up dead is frightening me, but nobody is ever ready to die. I remember being 9 years old dreaming of my teens and how "cool" I'd be and how rebellious and flawless my life would be. Now at Sixteen all I can think of is whether tomorrow I'll be cocooned in a white cloth being placed in a hole of dirt and whether my Mother will be grieving or if she'd be right next to me getting her share of dirt.
Some days are hard and just unbearable. I feel futile and vain. I've always been that person, you know the one that cries easily just one wrong word or one wrong move engenders a fit of tears. Lately, the tears have surged, they've turned into waterfalls, vast and endless. I try to talk my self into not breaking down but I can never find the right words. Every time I gaze at the mirror I vow to myself to not get frightened. I remind myself that the moment I came to life the hour of my death was previously written. It's useless, day after day. Talk after talk. Useless, pointless and worthless.
Just a year ago all I could think of was what university I want to go to and how to score higher grades. And of course the image that has always been in the back of my mind; sitting on a porch on a sunny day with my children playing around the backyard giggling and my two youngest fighting over the swings. Now, I feel illegible to dream or hope or aspire.
Today as I was sitting on my bed cushioned in the safety of my pillows reading my book when the missile hit. I jumped off the bed and out of the room. I waited then returned. This happened 5 times in the course of 8 minutes and each time I returned to the bed I would say: Fatima! You won't move this time, but I fail myself I continuously fail myself.
Lately, all I think of is if I do make it out this alive will I ever feel safe in silence or will silence always mean a stronger hit?

September 7, 2015

I always sleep around 8:30 pm yesterday I had to stay up till around 10 pm; I was talking to a friend the moment I heard the holy air craft I threw the phone and tried to go to sleep. I literally covered my ears and took loud deep breathes in order to not hear it's harmony. Thankfully, I fell asleep before it hit.
The thing here is I am a deep sleeper. I sleep early before they start hitting so I can withstand the troublesome of the mornings air raids. Otherwise it is just too much to bear. Before I fall asleep I always imagine waking up in a blood bath or waking up with no sign of my Mother and two siblings. Or perhaps homeless.
All that being said; I am weary from all of this. I have changed. I am no longer the same person I was before all of this happened. But... I wouldn't change it for the world I feel free. 6 months ago to be Yemeni was to be minuscule, vulnerable & worthless. Now we are freedom, bravery & pride.

August 7, 2015

As I lay breathing, safe and sound. Cuddled up in my blanket hearing the birds chirping. It hits me once again, he is dead. Gone. Gone for eternity. He has bid his farewells to this cruel world.
Around a month ago I visited a few of the +9000 wounded due to the Saudi Led Coalition, at that time we were working on an Eid project, we were supposed to get each of the injured to say "Eid Mubarak". We got the chance to hear their tragic miseries.
However, he was different, this is his story;
He was on a bus with 17 other people when the missile hit. They all perished, he was the lone survivor. He didn't leave in one piece he lost both legs and was deeply wounded and burnt.
He was too fatigued to speak, he didn't want to say "Eid Mubarak". He felt like his life was futile, vain. He is burned, scarred for life. For a sin he didn't commit.
While awaiting for him to prepare mentally and emotionally, one of the nurses mentioned the fact he doesn't have a wheel chair. He can't afford one.
He wasn't able to afford a poor quality wheelchair that costed 80$. We buy handbags for that price. We go out for coffee spending that much. We told the nurse we'd buy it for him, there's no problem in that, after all it's just $80.
He returned to the injured man and told him, his eyes filled with tears he retrieved the long lost hope. He had faith in humanity once again. He couldn't believe what he had heard, he finally could envisage how life would be as a disabled man. I couldn't believe what I saw he was worried how he would stroll around rather than mourning on the loss of both legs in a blink of an eye.
He then said in a very low voice : Eid Mubarak.
I received the receipt for the wheel chair around 10 days ago, I smiled as I remembered his beautiful smile.
The days passed and a week ago as I was with my group, a girl suddenly popped in and said I have something to say, her face was free of emotions I imagined she came to ask if we'd like tea or coffee as we were at her sister's residence. She said, "What would you like to do with the wheelchair you bought?"
I glared at her for what seemed like eternity. She said, "The man died today and I wanted to know what you'd like to do with it?"
Everything around me blurred and my eyes were flooding with tears, they started pouring down as I looked up to my Mom. She had been talking for the past few minutes telling me not to cry and to reminisce that he is now in a better place. But I solemnly swear it felt like I lost a part of my being. My whole life seemed unavailing. I felt numb, deaden.
All I managed to spout out was: Does he have children, a wife? I received no answer. No one knew.
As we drove back home, I entered my room and in front of me was the receipt I broke down yet again.
I never imagined that lives could end so easily. They can pass by unseen. The moment I think this coalition might come to an end. I thought my fervent will to avenge them was about to wear off, it rather has ignited once again.

July 15, 2015

Today I was honored to have visited a few of the 300,000 people who have been displaced as a result of this Saudi led coalition. I have never been surrounded by so much love, than with these angels. It was a pleasure to have met them and have had a conversation with them. I left with so much happiness. I was gleeful, over the moon! 
However, it breaks my heart to see how poorly they are living. They reside in governmental schools. We are speaking of people who had homes. Theyaren't beggars from the street.
No water, no electricity & no clothes. A whole family which could get to the size of 10 people live in the small space of a "classroom". A literal classroom. Let's speak food-wise they have such small amounts of food yet today while the children were each given a biscuit and a juice box, you would expect any normal child would just dig in. Especially since it's Ramadan and none of the adults could take it away. One of the kids, a boy around 7 years old gave me his biscuits. This was our conversation;
"These biscuits are for you"
"No, I won't take them they are yours!"
"Wallah you'll take them"
*Put it in my hand and starts walking away*
"I won't take them because I am fasting"
"It's okay eat them later when you break your fast"
I was left dumbfounded because I can assure you any other privileged 7 year old would have selfishly eaten it.
It is a very tough life they are living, but regardless they are full of pride and dignity. You can't help but respect these people.
Of course this isn't the end of the day. They danced and sang for me! They showed me their coloring books and explained how the feel slightly safer here. They even took photos of me. I couldn't help but teach them how to take photos and man are they fast learners! It's crazy how people who have lost so much can still manage to see the brighter side of life. To still have faith that tomorrow will be better.
Such precious, precious souls.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

July 8, 2015

Even after 3 months and a fortnight the sounds of war crafts still terrify me. My mother promised if I heard their utterance they are far away. Regardless, whenever I apprehend the sounds of them my heart beats rapidly and my stomach clenches. As soon as I hear the missile explode I taste death one more time. I remember when I conjectured that the tang of death is sweet. I was raised to be strong, hard headed and invincible this coalition made me question my strength, do I in sooth have any strength?
I always knew politics was dirty business and I know no one cared much for Yemen, including the UN, but seeing all the genocides and terror I can't even imagine how they sleep at night. Are they intact of their humanity?
Putting all my fears and all my worries aside; this country is something else. Every time I scramble out of the house crying of trepidation from those war crafts expecting everyone to feel as I do but I am bewildered by the reality. The fact people are on the streets, in the shops, chatting and humming as if nothing just happened. I used to believe & genuinely presume that I got my strength from my parents' unconditional love, but the coalition proved to me that I got my strength from my country. This country speaks a million languages that include; compassion, mercy, altruism, strength, authenticity & most importantly love. This country may not comprise modern architecture, but we were the first to build gravity defying skyscrapers. This country might not be filled with malls & 5-star hotels but I can assure you our guests never leave feeling anywhere less than home. This country might not be the richest - not because it's poor but rather no one has enhanced its 2300km worth of islands, our natural gas, our petrol, our agriculture or our harvest's- but I solemnly swear every Yemeni has a heart of gold. You will never feel alone here, this land embraces and captivates any one who speaks one of her million languages..
Heritage is one thing you'll find in Yemen more than any other country I'm not being prejudice or bias, our history goes back to 5000 BC. Our aging houses are filled with people, generations live in the same homes through out the decades. That's how exceptional our architecture is.
I believed this coalition would make me hate Yemen because I must admit before 2015 I wasn't much of a patriot. These air raids might have corrupted a small part of my 16 year old mind but I can assure you this country has given back and is continuously giving me back strength I never knew I had in me. Hope I never knew existed. Passion. Courage. Compassion. Pride.
If I do end up dying because of a missile from the Saudi led coalition I am honored to have died in my Mother's embrace. Surrounded by my heritage. My pride. My land.