The candy boy of Gaza who holds his dreams in a balloon
By Nedaa Nedal Al-Abadlah
I see him every day when I go to work. The little boy pushes his cart down the street until he reaches the school, then he stands in front of the building and asks people to buy.
I saw pain etched across his face and it seemed to age him. Tears welled in his eyes but he tried not to let them betray him. He’s a man trying to build his own future alone.
I went closer and asked him “what do you sell?”. “I sell chocolate, chips and biscuits,” he replied.
I asked him “why do you do this?” He answered that his father was killed and that his mother and two little sisters have no one to look after them.
So, he explained, as he’s the man of the house now, he should meet all their needs without complaining. I couldn’t hold my tears after hearing his story.
I am always worried about my daughter’s life and future in this cursed country but at least she has me and her father.
Yet, this little boy will face everything alone. He was deprived of his childhood. How can a person who hasn’t seen the colors of spring yet, face all these hardships and difficulties?
His image hasn’t left me. I know exactly how it feels to watch your dreams vanish in front of your eyes while you can do nothing but run after them.
I know he feels tired but he cannot give up. Living in a place like Gaza teaches us many things and the most important lesson is that we can live with very little. That’s why we teach life.
Every day a little boy like Yassin, wakes up to show the whole world that he has not surrendered.
We wake up every day to show the whole world how we survive and we still follow our dreams and responsibilities while smiling.
What distinguishes people like Yassin is that he knows no fear. As one who witnessed three frequent attacks and lost his father in the last one, this child knows everything about loss, yet, he appreciates everything he has.
One day I saw him again and he was holding a balloon in his hands, looking to the sky with bright eyes.
I asked him what he was doing and he answered he wanted to deliver a message with the balloon up to the sky to God.
He said he wanted Barbie dolls for his sisters, a comfortable bed for his mother and to be Superman.
When I asked why? He said because he wants to fly high with his mother and sisters and live away in the mountains where he cannot hear bombing and explosions and where no bad people can reach them.
I stayed silent because I always think the same thing about my daughter. I always feel like I want to take her away from the destruction and war and live a peaceful life, so she grows up like other children.
The poor children in my country have no rights. I think the world only knows they exist within the pages of human rights books but the world knows nothing about their real lives, the joy they still maintain in their hearts, their sense of adventure and a love of nature.
In a prison like Gaza, what we know about the external world we learn from photos online or from clips on TV.
I’m a grown woman but I’ve never seen a real lion and I really wonder how will I tell my daughter about it.
The fact is my mom did see a lion and I think that was okay because when I grew up I understood why she could not take me to see the king of the jungle.
Children like Yassin, the candy boy and Eileen, my baby daughter, will figure it all out one day.
And I think they will understand, because life in Gaza will simply force them to overcome their childhood so fast.
When that day comes I hope they do not feel hatred towards life for not being honest with them from the beginning and tell them the truth about justice and fairness; that they are only words in the resolutions and statements of the UN.
And that poor people like them are unseen and only numbers listed for aid packages with universal non-profit organisations.
That others in the West were created not to mix with us, the cursed nations.