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Winning story #3 by Nour el-Borno

Nour Embrace the Dark, Shed the Light

There is a fine line between our world and the world of shadows: Light. How long or how short our shadows are, does not depend on where we stand; it always depends on the source of light. Where the light is, our shadows seem to grow from. A universal theme is fear of the dark. Children are almost always depicted as little creatures who are innocent, sweet, and full of light. Under their beds, inside their closets; there is often a monster lurking in the dark. That monster only appears when the lights are off and the family is not around. Therefore, most families keep their children’s doors ajar or they keep a dim light on. Any source of brightness is the answer to the battle against the dark.

Metaphorically and literally speaking, we, the Palestinians, did not have the chance to share that universal theme. We, Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, did not get the chance to explore the idea of fear of the dark.

Some of us are born without parents – they gave birth to us but were killed because of a bomb or because of an airstrike or because of happening to stand nearby a building which collapsed. Some of us do not get to reach that stage because they were not even born. Pregnant moms lost their babies, and pregnant moms died – out of fear, because of an airstrike, or because of a bomb. Some of us live with one parent. It is hard either way: whether the lost one is the father or the mother – the pain tortures the heart the same. There are those who are lucky because they got the chance to survive until their moms gave birth, they had both of their parents, and some of their sisters or brothers stayed alive. They are lucky, you are deceived to think. Those are most probably who lost a limb, an eye, or both. Those are who have to survive life against their own disabilities. They fight their battles alone, even though their families are around. They live the true meaning of fighting their own demons, their own disabilities.

We, who get to see the light when we first walk out of our moms’ wombs and into this huge bubble of creatures, are usually born during daylight. It is during daylight that we most often get to see the light. This is the literal part I have previously mentioned. It may not seem an issue to some people; they might throw it in your face and straightly tell you, “There are many people who lived without electricity before electricity was discovered;” or something like, “You can live without cell phones or laptops.” You wouldn’t usually know how to respond, simply because you do not expect people to be this ridiculous – excuse me for the description. Those who lived before us without electricity did not depend on electricity to do their homework, to work, to make money to provide for their families. They did not need computers to write their articles, they had typing machines. They did not need cell phones to communicate with their families, families who live abroad as refugees or are under the threat of attacks all the time. Those people who lived before us, had their own means of communication. We, however, do not.

It started hard. The first years without electricity. With time, however, things changed. We understood the difficulties and challenges. We became more aware of what is really going on. They are not only taking our lives, but they are also trying to steal our lights. Only then did we realize that when the electricity is off, it is our job to keep the light of family, of friendship, of companionship burning. It is our job to defeat the misfortune of our country, our occupied country. We do need the actual electricity – don’t get me wrong. We need it not only to survive, but also to live. We need to be heard. To be read. So you would know, so you would understand, so you would feel how we feel every single day. We do not want pity, nor do we want sympathy; what we truly want is for the world to see how when there is light everywhere across planet earth that comes from the sun or from man-generated electricity, we, the Palestinians, learned to shed light on objects without waiting for a source. We embraced the dark and reflected our internal light, instead.