TRIGGER WARNING: MENTIONS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE, WAR, VIOLENCE
We once lived in these streets, in these houses. Now we walk displaced and forgotten, forced to conform to our oppressor’s borders. I look into my mother’s brown eyes. They were once big and glowy, twinkling with the optimism that only youths and dreamers possess. Whenever I gazed upon old pictures of my mother when she was young, the pit in my stomach grows deeper and deeper as I think of the youth and hope that was stolen from her by those who pursue power over human rights. My fist clenches as I think of my grandparents, who share the same eyes like my mother, being dragged from our family home by occupying forces. But it wasn’t only my grandparents who had lived in their home before its demolition. It was generations upon generations before, whose blood that coursed through their veins was mine, who bore the same eyes as my grandmother and mother. My eyes were different than theirs, not by color or shape, but by a dominant scar that traveled from my forehead to my cheek, surrounding my honey-brown eyes. I can see the pain on my mother’s face each time I look back up at her or whenever she looks at pictures of me from childhood.
I was thirteen. For as long as I could remember, I would spend hours gazing out at the field beyond our garden from our kitchen window. I would think of what life would look like without the heavily armed soldiers pointing their arms into the air and land around us. I began to resent them. Why could I not run across the fields and feel my feet rub against the prickly grass or smell the sweet aroma of the flowers that bloom during springtime? I could feel my face grow hotter and hotter with envy. I thought of my robbed childhood, wishing I could be carefree like the children born of parents who were pro-occupation. I gazed upon the tool of the tyrant in his green uniform and chunky military boots, standing up straight with a rifle secured across his chest, finger on the trigger.
My body began to move without me knowing, and my feet began to lead me across the field, towards the soldier. I saw him yelling at a young girl, cursing and spitting on a defenseless child. She was small and cowered in fear of the angry soldier. Her body was shaking, and her green eyes began swelling with tears as she cried out for her mother. I began to wonder to myself, “who looks upon the face of a child and sees an enemy?” Those same individuals now controlled where my family could live, when they could leave our home, what rights we had and how free we were in lands that we had lived in for generations. Again, before I could begin to think, I began to yell at the soldier, “stop yelling at her!” I picked up a rock from beneath my feet and threw it as hard as I could in his direction. That was the first time someone had looked at me with pure hatred and rage in my young life. He looked into my eyes like I was the dirt under his feet like I had no value. As he cursed upon myself and my family, he grabbed his rifle and hit my right eye with the back of it. Seven years have passed since that day, and I still cling on to the hope that my sight will return to my right eye so that I can see it with both eyes when we end the occupation.
The occupying forces would go on to arrest and beat thousands of more children, rape and sexually assault young women and girls, kill young boys and men and rob thousands of mothers and fathers of their children they had fought all of their lives to protect. My mother sobbed violently when she saw what the soldier had done to me, and she shared in the tears of thousands of us living on occupied land.