A Holiday for Healing

“Never have I imagined that you would be here,” he opened. “Not at a time like this.”

“Do I look like a ghost to you?” I laughed.

“Nah, nah. Of course not,” he replied. “But you act like one, not only to me, but also to everybody.”

He finished watering his orchids and did exactly what I imagined he would do — he fixed his thin, silver hair with only a sway of his fingers, walked through the door even if his feet were covered with mud, and pushed two heavy couches which he thought he can never move around. Usually when he does this routine, he would complain about his backaches, which would worsen after cleaning all the serious mess he has made on the floor. In the end, the job will inevitably fall into my hands.

But today, he was different. He grabbed a wet mop and proceeded with the cleaning. Looking at all the sweat hurrying down his face, I knew he was too exhausted, so I attempted to grab the task by gently wrapping my palm around the handle. He glared at me and continued moving — which was another way of saying, “I don’t need your help, moron!”

The night turned quieter and colder. He exhaled deeply as he shielded his arms with his loose jacket. He handed me a scarf, which I only placed on my laps.

“I didn’t even ask how you were doing,” he said. “My apologies.”

“No need to apologise,” I replied. “Besides, my answer will always be the same.”

“Tell me.”

I stared at him intently and said, “Nights will swallow the days; sweet arrivals lead to bitter departures.”

He sipped freely from his cup of coffee and rested his back on the couch. He did not speak, but I believed he knew what I meant to convey.

My sight began hopping on every bulb of the differently-colored Christmas lights that ran across the walls of the room. The speakers sang the tunes of common Yuletide hymns, albeit in their classical versions. I saw the Tree standing like a tiny, defenseless child being driven into a corner.

“I’m sorry about the tree,” he commented as we walked around it. “It’s been years since I last installed it. Look at all this dust …”

Afterwards, I sat on the floor and examined each box neatly covered with costly wrappers. I shook some of the boxes in an attempt to guess the contents. Most of them I guessed correctly —watches, shirts, earphones, and body essentials. The names of the recipients were individually written on tiny gift notes glued atop each box.

I stood up, walked towards the table, and drank all my lukewarm tea in one shot — just like how I treat cold liquors.

“Your name’s not here,” he said, as he held the two smallest boxes. “I’ve got too many things to apologise for.”

I beamed a smile. “Haven’t I told you before? I don’t expect receiving anything from anybody. Not even from you.”

“I know. It’s always okay for you.”

“And if jealousy and/or envy arise from within me due to materialistic thoughts, I will seal them away … just like what I actually do.”

He then leaned on his couch and shifted it in such a way our eyes cannot escape the force that drove us to continue the conversation.

“You’ve always been different, Josue,” he mumbled. “But your uniqueness makes me sad and enthralled at the same time.”

“Why so?” I asked.

“Because what you have always wanted couldn’t be fit into any of those boxes; they can never be demanded.”

“Is it love?”


“What is it?”

For a moment, he paused as if he was trying to find any affirmation from within his reach over my soul. He slouched, motioning like he had arrived with a very specific answer.

“Healing,” he said.

My mind went blank. I moved silently to divert my attention and proceeded to pour another round of tea into my cup. Some of the tea spilled on the table like a stream of mossy river that led to a green sea near my toes. The cup fell on the floor as my hands instinctively and desperately searched for paper towels.

“You’re always like that,” he continued.

“What?” I replied.

“You’re always like that,” he repeated. “Like a cup of tea — you are often prone to spillage and breakage. And yet, no matter how many times you break, you still try to pick yourself up and look for your missing pieces …”

“And each attempt is a disappointment,” I replied hastily. “And each day is an opportunity to bleed and to nurture hatred.”


“I am a duality of love and hatred.”

He did not reply and appeared to be waiting for what I will be saying next. I finished cleaning all the mess and threw shards into the trash bin.

“Some say that love and hatred are polar opposites. But, in some instances, they can coexist and complement each other.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Every time I try to love, reality further drowns me,” I answered as I sat. “It’s like an ocean that has its own hands to pull me underneath until I can no more breathe. But by the next day, I’ll find myself on the shore, still breathing, having realised that the scars I had have renewed to become wounds—some of which are much deeper or more serious than their precursors.”

For a moment, I stopped. My lips failed to connect more words to the previous ones I uttered. I inhaled and exhaled, as if the air that went in and out of my lungs gave me more courage to speak. I knew he wished to talk, and yet, he remained silent.

“That’s why this one here never healed,” I said, as I lightly thumped my chest. “Because every time I try to love, the pain becomes much worse. And that pain breeds more hatred.”

“I understand,” he replied, as he removed his eyeglasses. “It’s like a part of what you’ve always been saying.”


“”Nights will swallow the days; sweet arrivals lead to bitter departures.””

I smiled and gave my short reply. “Indeed.”

He stood up, grabbed a new cup, and poured tea on it. He carefully placed it on the wooden table in front of me, as if he was encouraging me to invite more caffeine into my system. I nodded and took a sip.

“I must say that you’re right,” I said. “Healing is all I needed; and it can never be demanded. I don’t know whether it can be found through love or through something else, but I’m sure it’s there. It may take a long time, but I know it’s reachable.”

The doorbell rang repeatedly. We both smiled when the voices of the children singing Christmas carols reached our ears. We took our purses, launched ourselves to the gate, and gave the children some coins. I checked my phone and realized that it was already past nine, so I quickly bade my farewell.

“Bye, John,” I said.

“I won’t demand you to return soon,” he replied. “But I wish you’ll have the best of healing this Christmas. Take care of yourself.”

“I will,” I answered.


For Peace in Gaza

Photo from the New York Times.

Photo from the New York Times.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN delegates, Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace, representatives of Israel and Palestine, fellow Palestinians, our Jewish neighbors, journalists, guests, worldwide observers, ladies and gentlemen:


Maybe you are wondering why I greeted you in Hebrew. Well, that, of course, is probably because I was born and raised a Palestinian. I grew up knowing and practicing Islamic traditions and constantly praying to Allah. I am educated as some of you inside this great assembly hall; in fact, I even received my degree abroad and landed with a good job in my dear motherland.

But that wasn’t my dream. I’ve always wanted to build my own family — to conceive and nurture a child, just like you, just like what my parents did.

And I thought my dream had finally been fulfilled.

Ten months ago, after ten long years of trying, I had this morning sickness, which signified my pregnancy. My husband Mohammed anxiously watched me vomit in the washroom and later accompanied me back to bed.

“I am pregnant,” I said.

He stopped and looked at me intently in my eyes.

“Are you serious?” he asked.

I just smiled.

“Al-hamdu lillāh! Al-hamdu lillāh!” that is, Thanks and Praise to God was all I heard from him that Tuesday morning as he leaped to the door and then hugged me.

That moment was one of the happiest in my entire life. I could see my husband’s tears of joy everytime we went to the local obstetrician for my check-up. I could see his excitement as he announced my pregnancy to my neighbors, even though he learned that our first and perhaps our last child, was a daughter and not a son.

Fast forward to last two months when I was eight months pregnant, the world was bombarded with the news regarding the growing conflict between Israel and Palestine as the former attacked shelters and hit missiles in Gaza. To think of my own safety I was not anymore that shocked, but as for my child, my one and only child, I felt chills going down my spine.

“When will this war end?” I one time whispered to myself.

A month later, inside the delivery room I gave birth to Almas, meaning diamond. Yes, you heard it right ― a diamond ― for she is the most precious of all the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon us. I am thanking Him everyday for giving me the chance to breastfeed her and sleep in my arms. The same goes for showering her all the love and affection that every child needs.

But, just like how precious stones and expensive jewelries were stolen by treasure hunters and thieves, our little Almas was suddenly taken from us, from my own hands, and then placed on the rear of our old, rugged car … and I watched them … I watched them just in front me … those Israelite soldiers and invaders pulled off the AK-47 triggers and there was an earsplitting BANG! I no more can hear her loud cry nor her breathing.

“No … please, stop!” I cried.

A gunner heard me and just grinned. And he pulled again the trigger. BANG!

I felt so impotent and much more when they left. I juggled myself in a corner of our dimly-lit kitchen and wept, spending sleepless nights, waiting for my husband to arrive to at least comfort me, to share my grief.

And I got a piece of news from a friend from Nablus … and I saw the pain in her eyes as she was saying every word, every bit of information.

Mohammad was one of those abducted and killed. Behold, I looked around me and I saw emptiness, until everything slowly went black.

Now I am here in front of you, hungry for justice for the untimely deaths of my beloved.

So let me repeat my question before: When will this war end?

How many innocent children should be victims of genocide for the attainment of peace? How many husbands and wives should mourn over their dead family members? How long should Zionists try to occupy Gaza, our homeland, leaving Palestinians homeless and refugees?

But I am not here to demand another war against you, my Jewish brethren. I demand for peace from both sides. I demand for stopping the immense destruction of Gaza just to get from the Hamas what Israel government wants.

Is it too ideal? Yes, I know, but that’s possible. And I am saying this to you my fellowmen: the bond of Palestinians to protect our land will never be broken, and I am always praying to Allah or to Jewish Yahweh for peace in Gaza.

Peace? Yes. That’s possible. Israel and Hamas, please stop the war. Hold back your missiles and use your funds instead for feeding the hungry stomachs of our countrymen. To the allies of both sides, refrain from sending military support and focus on your own territories. Free the tiny piece of land left for us, Palestinians, and let us live peacefully.

I once dreamed of becoming a mother to my children. But now, I dream in behalf of Palestine for I am her daughter. I dream in behalf of those who grieve over the deaths of their children, husbands, and wives. I dream that someday, war will end and that peace will lastly be achieved.

Only in such way that I can seek justice over my beloved ones’ deaths, and I hope that one day when I die and my soul to goes up to Allah, I’ll truly and gladly tell him that I died in peace due to a disease, not due to my injuries after an airstrike.

Shalom and may peace be with you.

I had written this declamation piece a month ago and sent this to my writing mentors for proofreading. This is maybe outdated because of the on-going truce between Israel and Hamas for long-term ceasefire. Regardless, I am praying continuously for the complete resolution of this conflict and for the total peace in humanity.

This is the “summary in numbers for the war on Gaza, Palestine” according to Mohammed Zeyara’s Facebook page:
*2145 Palestinians killed.
Children: 578
Women: 261
Elderly: 102

*11,000 injured.
-More than 100 families have more than one family member killed.
-15,670 houses damaged, of them 2276 were completely destroyed.
-190 mosques damaged, of them 70 were completely destroyed.
-140 schools damaged, of them 24 were completely destroyed.
-500,000 civilians were displaced. At least 200,000 took shelter in schools.

*69 Israelis killed. 64 soldiers and five civilians.


Sueju Takeshi 武

The Landscape of Hope

Photo from geograph.org.uk

Photo from geograph.org.uk

Are people born wicked? Does love really exist in man? What if hope itself loosens its wings?

Archaeus y el paisaje de la Esperanza (The Landscape of Hope)

The world is in pain. People die everyday without being recognized even for their little good deeds. They are still busy pointing out each other’s wickedness. There’s nothing left to us, humans, but love. What if love is already gone? Can we still survive?

It was a cold Sunday morning. The wheat fields were golden, which fits to be compared to hair strands of same texture and color. At the last few hectares of the village, a high cliff could be seen, like tourists say, perfect for painting and star-gazing. A long river is situated just below the cliff, which provides natural irrigation and freshwater for people to drink. Low-steeped huts were built far away from each other, and at the middle of the village lies a church whose sacredness, they say, once attracted the finest angels of God.

At the cliff, Gaius sat and prepared his painting tools. Then, he quietly observed the silent surroundings.

“Dad, are the stars big?”

Gaius turned back and noticed someone was following him. And there, he saw his own reflection inside a little being. It was his son, Archaeus.

“Do you believe that they are big?” he replied.

“Yes, even though I only see them as little diamonds suspended in the sky.”

The northwest wind blew softly and touched the youth’s face, like those from sweet and caring hands of a mother.

“Do you believe that love exists?” Gaius asked him.

The child answered, “Yes, even though man often neglects it and it’s existence.”

He took a deep breath and sighed, “Then it must be faith.”

An hour had passed. Archaeus keenly watched his father as he draws the beautiful scenery that he sees and therefore named his masterpiece, Archaeus y el paisaje de la Esperanza.

Archaeus liked the piece so much and compared it to what his eyes can see from where he sits. He noticed that something is very different as if life is not present in such scenic painting.

“Dad, why is this painting different? The open fields are not golden; they are gray like the lonely nimbus clouds. The river overflows, and the riverbanks are siltated. The village church is burned to ashes and trees are cut. There’s a big change.” the child asked curiously.

“It’s because that’s what I see in the hearts of every human on Earth.” he sighed. After a few seconds, he continued, “The world was once a peaceful and beautiful place. People started planting seeds of envy and anger, and in return, the nature itself gave them weeds of despair and hatred for people to harvest.

“A man was not born wicked. But they grew up having the knowledge of good and evil, which God provided. But human still chose the wrong path.

“People change. But we all know that love can conquer the humanity’s wicked deeds. When love is gone, no one will even survive, because instead of eating healthy food, they ate the foul words that run their lips.”

“But Dad, is there still hope for humans?” Archaeus began wondering.

He smiled, “I know there is. But I’m worried that one day, hope itself will loosen its wings.”

“I believe that God will not let it happen. As long as love exists, I know that strong hope will accompany us to surpass this dark road.” his son uttered.

“Then it must be faith, and I know there’s still even a few in a large population of mortals who do good deeds, but they die unknown and unrecognized, where in fact, they should be awarded with more than silver, gold and other riches a man can buy.

“The good ones influenced the saints, and the evil, on the other hand, lives within even in the blood of the youngest man in the world.

“I had one wish before I die, to search for the highest cliff in the world and tell God that humanity continues to worsen.

“I know love can recolor the lonely fields, regulate the overflowing rivers and fix the destroyed riverbanks.”

The sun sets like a ship slowly vanishing beyond the horizon. And there stood, a father and his son, waiting for the stars to dominate the sky.


Originally posted at Facebook’s Notes last September 24, 2012 and served as my output short story in our campus journalism class. This hasn’t undergone much editing.