Christmas is coming. Exciting time, isn't it? And as simple as this might be, the question, "what are you planning to do? Are you going back home?" are the most occurring questions at this time of year. Not as easy as this looks, my response would only involve a long sigh before I pull myself together, trying to appear as strong as I should be, "I wish." My friends have sorted out flashy plans for their breaks. "I'm so excited to spending some valuable time with my family." Quite easily have their statements always come out of their lips. No worries are there. No second thoughts are needed. No restrictions to think of. No borders to wait for its opening times. No checkpoints, soldiers, blood, hatred. Nothing. They state it with a wide smile on their face, whilst tears are falling down on my checks. Thinking of going back home is nothing but a mere wish. It is nothing more than a dream that seems to not come true. It has been for 15 months onward since I left Gaza to pursue my Masters degree in global politics and law, and I will have to wait for longer than expected, it seems, to see my family again.
Palestine and family, two words that make me feel heartache. Thinking of them is regular, so is this heartache. Why is it so complicated to go home? It is even harder when your family are citizens of Gaza. Why do I need to think a thousand times before I book my flight ticket to Egypt? Why shall I fear being deported to the country I came from? Or fearing a successful journey to the Egyptian airport but finding the Egyptian-Palestinian Rafah Crossing shut in my face? And many more unanswerable rhetorical questions that I have to live with since I leave Gaza. I miss home. I miss family. Miss my 1-year-old niece that I have never touched. Miss the souls of my neighbours and relatives who were killed in cold blood by the most civilised state in this world. Miss our warm home and beautiful hearts of Palestine.
Miss Gaza, the city I love as it is, with its destruction and the remaining rubble surrounding my home and every single other one. Rubble is a symbol of life and love, of rebirth and freedom. The little stones mingled with the blood of our martyrs are a symbol of their eternal love to our holy land. Homes will be rebuilt. Life will return. Love has never been lost. And our freedom does not seem as difficult as it used to be. Yet reaching home seems the most difficult bit of all to reach or think of. Unreachable are the hug of my mom and my dad, but reachable are the words and emotions of my sister telling me during the latest Israeli aggression: "Malaka, you are lucky you are away from home. If we are all killed, we will have a member of our family alive." Reachable is the nonsense of getting used to the life in fear and depression and consider it more than okay. "Nothing is better than having a roof" is what my father would say.
Living in England is not a privilege. Here, everything seems to be taken for granted. Few could imagine how it feels to be prohibited from going back home. Or have the feeling of not being able to try calming your traumatised siblings down after they had to run over corpses of neighbours and friends. It means a lot of loss, but all these losses are not as tragic as being banned to print your last hug, kiss, touch or look on your cousin body. It is not as tragic as being stuck far away from love and caring of your family.