5 Aril 2009
Following the disaster that befell our living room, with the windows broken and the wooden chairs dashed into pieces and heaped in the middle of the floor, and seeing that my little daughter’s hand was bruised and her fingers burnt, quite apart from the injuries suffered by our black cat, we have declared a State of Emergency at home, turned off all media outlets and disconnected the satellite channels.
The horrendous news from the outside world that invaded our living room through the audiovisual media has shattered our peace. Bloody scenes of the war in Gaza, mass destruction, and all sorts of torturous news has sneaked stealthily into our lives and obviously nested in the minds of our children.
Crash and screams
I had awoken up from my siesta to the sound of a crash and blood-curdling screams emanating from the living room. I rushed into the room to see the ghastly sight of my son standing on one of the chairs and roaring: “This is an official statement: our domestic troops have succeeded in taking control over the Israeli enemy and capturing the cat. A great fire erupted and two children were injured; they were moved to hospital.”
I was transfixed with stupefaction at the shocking yet absurd scene. The children were repeating statements that sounded as though they had besieged some enemy troops and were evacuating the area. I saw my beautiful white scarf tarnished with a star painted in blue watercolours and hanging on the broom handle. My son was trying to set it on fire with a match. Meanwhile, my daughter had wrapped her doll in a white cloth and, tears were streaming down her face, kept murmuring, “God bless her soul.” She carried the doll carefully and placed it on a shelf, saying that it would finally find rest in its burial place.
I was brought back to earth by the painful squeals of the cat, which was now struggling helplessly in my son’s hands. He was apparently torturing it mercilessly, kicking and beating it and squeezing its shiny fur.
No words could describe the terrible scene I was witnessing. I could not understand what had happened to my children. Then I realised the scarf had caught fire, so I rushed to the kitchen and came back with a jug of water. I doused the fire and sprinkled the rest of the water on the faces of my children, hoping this would wake them up from whatever strange place they were in. Laughing and crying at the same time, my daughter ran to me shouting: “We triumphed, Mom, we triumphed. Don’t worry, Mom, we were just playing.”
Wiping the screen
I remembered that a few days ago while we were watching the news my daughter went slowly to our first aid box, got out some cotton and bandages, and walked over to the television screen. She started to wipe it with a white bandage and, when I asked in alarm what was she doing, she said she was wiping the blood off the wounds of the little Palestinian girl, Shaimaa’. I did not think much about the incident and told myself that my daughter had been half-asleep.
My children’s bloody adventure brought home the plight of war children. It made me wonder about the children in Gaza, Iraq and Darfur, and the huge price they have to pay for the wars waged by or against their parents. I had read that several humanitarian relief organisations have provided psychological help for these children. Many have lost parents, siblings, relatives or playmates to war. Why oh why, I asked myself, do children around the world pay the price? Our children are aware of what is happening in other countries because of the haemorrhage of news and bloody images that fill TV screens. Who can possibly erase these tragic images from their little minds, and how can we explain to them the reason for all the bloodshed and violence? Is it any wonder our children are becoming more violent and hostile? The dark side of the world seems to be asserting itself more fully than the good side, and the small village that is our world today is driving this fact into our living rooms and the minds of our children.