Saturday, January 10, 2009

Side by Side

I watch them as they lie side by side, four beautiful little children. The eldest is surely not older than six years of age, the youngest…maybe six months or a little more. Three girls and a boy. Their little faces carry similar features: small pointed noses, hazel shaped eyes, and a freckled complexion. The eldest girl has long beautiful chestnut hair tied in a pony tail…how attractive she would be as a young woman. The second girl has a cute dimple on her chin, and the boy has heavy dark brown hair with curls covering his forehead. As for the little one…the youngest of the four, she has an angelic smile that no madness in the world could ever erase.

They lie there side by side, three sisters and a brother, so quiet and peaceful. I stare at the small red flowers on the little ones pink pajamas. She must have stared and wondered at them as she raised her arms in the air like she does every night before dozing off to sleep. I smile at the funny cartoon figures on the boy’s green pajamas… and remember the similar ones I bought for my own son not that long ago. I can imagine how much commotion these four little children could create, how much they could fill the world with laughter and shouting, with childish pranks and teasing, with wonder and questions, with life and love.

But now they lie quietly, side by side…on a thin blanket on the hospital floor. I worry that the bitter winter cold will seep into their frail little bodies from the dampness beneath them. But then I remember that they don’t feel anything anymore…neither cold nor warmth, pain nor relief, love nor hatred. They lie silent and lifeless. The fires of hatred have reaped their lives and that of many others, descending upon them with a vicious wrath in the early hours of the morning.

I watch as they lie on the floor, their pale faces covered with dust from the debris of their demolished home. Stains of blood deck their pajamas matching the color of the small red flowers. I watch in silence, numbed by sadness and helplessness. What barbaric mind could have wrought such destruction? What monstrous hand could rain showers of death on these innocent ones? In what deep dark pit of hatred and injustice has humanity sunk to?

I stand there motionless and speechless as silent tears of anger and despair stream down my face. I wonder if their little hearts pounded with fear as they heard the screaming fighter jets and missiles over their heads…or did it all happen while they were sound asleep…dreaming of an innocent world filled with red flowers and funny cartoons?

I stare at the floor of the Gaza hospital and watch the four of them as they lie in silence…while behind them stretch rows…and rows....and rows.... of lifeless little children…lying quietly… side by side.