The light of freedom
THE PALESTINIAN DIARIESALAA ALBAZYAN
I arrange my things. I touch my clothes and case, and I collect my remaining memories, which have become part of me and refuse to leave.
Despite the breezes of freedom, I touch my face and count the wrinkles that increased every year in prison.
Then I forget to count them. I no longer care about numbers.
All of them mix together in my heart, which was inflamed with defiance and resistance in the spring of my long years.
The sun shines, then it disappears. It is the sunlight that shone upon and released the birds of freedom.
They now fly above my heart full of pain and memories of waiting. They scatter in the sky, to be replaced by tears of happiness. It is relief – believe it, Alaa’!
From here, from that brutal window, I saw my mother’s funeral passing. One year ago, my mother was covered with sand.
I hug her as in an old dream. Then my father’s funeral passed the same way.
Only a few months separated their burials, and they are together in a peaceful spot, their longings buried with them in the ground of old Jerusalem.
I imagine them, my mind filled with longing, without seeing them, without any words of farewell. Two tears fall from my eyes, and my grieving heart heaves again. But still there is hope.
I turn back to my case and recall the past, 25 years ago. A bomb occupies my memories and a cell reinforces my steadfastness and pride.
I remember lying on a bed at Hadasa Hospital, where I lay covered in blood after the bomb I was carrying exploded, and I lost my sight.
My body was laid on the floor of the hospital. They moved me mercilessly, wounded and blind, chained by iron, to be tortured in a prison where wounds meant nothing.
They are 25 years out of my life. Today I leave my grave and return to life. Prison was as bad as death.
Memories reopened old wounds, hurting me, and adding insult to my injuries. The jailers’ cold water was poured on my naked body, making it shake and shudder, but then grow stronger.
It is not merely a dream that I am collecting my things now. Relief is finally in sight, Alaa’.
Tomorrow, I will sit beside my parents’ graves, complain of my pain, and share the happiness of freedom and victory.
Tomorrow, I will acquire power from them to return again to life. Alaa’, life is freedom.
I am not used to tasting freedom. Now I see it too late. Nothing is left from the memory of prison except a sick body, blind eyes, and black memories.
But there is also a glimpse of hope, from which I will start.
This is a chapter from The Prisoners' Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, a compilation of 22 Palestinian prisoners' experiences in Israeli jails. Read the first chapter The Day My Children were Scattered here.