Atef Abu Saif: The children in Ghaza have barely slept


Dispatch from Gaza: Day-to-day life continues even in a war zone, but sleep does not: Guernica

GhazaI don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted watching my nineteen month-old girl, Jaffa, sleeping, drifting among the clouds of her dreams; the occasional movement of a limb, the faint smile dancing on her lips. This used to be my favorite moment of the day. But now, looking at children and thinking they could be dead in a minute’s time, they could be transformed into one of those images on the TV, it’s too much to bear. The cruel images from that day when a house in the neighborhood was struck by an F-16 or a drone, or the images that various media outlets have posted online, or those described in vivid detail by a friend who happened to be an eye witness, all these images deny me the pleasure of seeing my kids sleeping peacefully. This used to be one my greatest pleasures.

The children have barely slept in days. Sometimes a couple of hours is enough, especially when what sleep you get is going to be stretched thin with anxiety anyway. Anxiety plays like a lightning storm behind your eyelids whenever you close them, and only when that stops do your hands start to relax. Only then does sleep start to gather, slowly, around you, like a gentle whirlwind, circling you and your loved ones.

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