We Are Human

The phoenix burns and rises from the ashes, but no ashes are left to be reborn from.


he phoenix burns and rises from the ashes, but no ashes are left to be reborn from. 
We are not the phoenix. We are not superheroes. We are not legends. We are not unbeatable.

Our ashes are being wiped away—our family names, our records, our memories, our lives, our stories, our smiles, our dreams. 

But our history cannot be erased.

A 365-kilometre strip that is under 17 years of blockade. The biggest open-air jail is fighting against the entire world to affirm the presence of human rights. But where are these humans? More than 75 years of occupation, colonization, and settlement. In addition to all kinds of torment that your mind can’t even imagine. Yet, you ask me to forget a history that lies within my blood cells. You cannot erase a history that was written with the blood of grandparents that you killed in Sabra and Shatila.


    Can they see us? Are our voices being heard? Did the world get used to the scene? We are numbers, and the world does not care about us. Why are they killing us one by one? If they wish to end our lives, they should do it once instead of burning us this way. Does the world even know about us?


      I desire for the war to cease because I am utterly exhausted. I cannot bear to witness more of my loved ones dying. I want to persist, but I am petrified of stepping outside and witnessing the streets, witnessing the immense destruction inflicted upon my beloved city, Gaza.


        It seems that every movie I watch about wars and soldiers reminds me of Palestine. But the war in Gaza is not a figment of my imagination or a fictional tale concocted in my mind. It is the harsh reality of Palestinians. What we are enduring surpasses the comprehension and empathy of any human mind. It is a genocidal act.


          The stories of my people haunt me: “I yearn for a simple cup of coffee. I used to have everything, but now I sleep on the streets. I long for a piece of bread, a blanket to alleviate the cold.” “I am terrified; I want to live. I still have so much to do—I want to travel the world.” “I want to marry the woman I love.” “The woman I loved the most is no longer here; all that remains is her wedding dress.” “My son, whom I waited for over 15 years, is gone.” “Our 50-year-old house was obliterated in the blink of an eye.”

          These are the stories I hear every day. We are not weak, yet we are tired, consumed, and drained. We are humans.

          My soul can no longer support my weary feet; each day, they grow heavier. I am becoming blind, lifeless, and numb. The only thing my mind can perceive is the sounds.

          All I can hear is the voices of mothers screaming for their children; of an orphaned 12-year-old girl attempting to shield her brothers within her arms and heart; of a little girl who recognizes her mother solely by her hair; of a grandfather who says she is the soul of his soul; of a woman mourning her starved babies; of a mother begging her child for forgiveness for the little she could give them in life, she asks for forgiveness if she ever hit him, knowing her heart burns at the thought, but he has to learn strength.

          I hear the voice of a father doing his utmost to convince his little angel that the sound of bombings is merely fireworks until these fireworks submerge their bodies in hellish flames; of a little girl who remains under the rubble for a while, and when rescue workers arrive, she begs them to save her family first, then to free her; of a man screaming for his uncle or anyone to answer him, to confirm if they are still alive; of a father who declares that nothing remains, nothing to sustain his will to live; of a child yearning for death so he can join his father; of a girl imploring her mother to place her hand on her heart, so she can feel her presence; of an entire family, engulfed in flames within a building, with no one able to rescue them.


            How can we endure this? How can we sleep? How can we believe that the sound of an airplane or fireworks does not mean bombing? How can we believe that hearing an airplane signifies the luxury of travel and discovering the world? How can we believe that fireworks symbolize beautiful views in the sky and another year of happiness? How can you convince us that schools are not places to sleep and hide to seek shelter? How can you convince us that we don't have to wait for hours to go to the bathroom? How can you convince us that the sea is not a place to dip or take a shower? How can we forget? How can we forgive?


              No child should be raised with the impulse to constantly struggle for survival. They should not dream because their existence is uncertain each day. No child should associate the sound of bombings with mere fireworks, suppressing their fear when they hear it or holding back tears even after losing their entire family. They cannot cry because they must be strong enough to live before the world sends them to join their family again.

              Why should the events their eyes are accustomed to witnessing be sensitive content for the rest of the people around the world? Why should their childhoods be filled with the smells of blood, death, and destruction, while other people's childhoods are filled with travel, colouring, and play?

              I wish I could journey back in history and rescue all those in need. I wish I could instill the belief of dreams and superheroes in children. But such wishes remain unattainable. You see, the most unbearable aspect of our existence is the feeling of helplessness. We are waiting our turn to die fully aware that we cannot hide. We comprehend that our lives are constrained by the finite time granted to us by the world. This temporal limitation curtails our dreams. It seems that some of the movies I have watched were not merely works of fiction. I remember a movie depicting individuals whose lifespans were determined by clocks on their hands. Despite their best efforts to alter their fate, death remained inevitable. The world's controllers, driven by self-interest, stole time from the less fortunate, extending their own lives disproportionately. They believed they deserved more. It appears that movies can indeed mirror reality, and in Palestine, they become tangible.


                Please understand that you are not a mere spectator, but rather a producer of this ongoing drama, an active participant occupying the same stance repeatedly. You may believe that some must perish for others to live. If I wasn’t a believer, I would have succumbed to madness a long time ago. I must acknowledge the profound influence of my remarkable family in shaping the person I have become today.

                If it is within your power to envision the image of my family enslaved and torn apart, along with their shattered dreams and aspirations, and convince me that the world remains indifferent to their suffering, with the constant fear of receiving news of their death, please do so. Perhaps then, I may discover a means to recover from this torment.


                  I shall not forget.

                  I shall not forgive.

                  I will not stop speaking about Palestine.

                  We must not be silenced.

                  Palestine will be free.

                  Palestine will be free.

                  Palestine will be free.

                  About the author

                  My name is Tamar Nijim. I am 25 years old. I am from Gaza, Palestine. I have a bachelor's degree in English literature and education. Now, I am pursuing a master's in applied linguistics at Mary Immaculate College. I am a teacher, an interpreter, and a figure of my own. My dream is to be the ambassador of Palestine one day to help my people have a better life. I am a living testimony to everything that happened in Gaza and a survivor of six wars.