Young Gaza poet and novelist, killed in Israeli strike, chronicled pain of her people


By Humaira Ahad

The Israeli military, after launching the indiscriminate aerial bombardment three weeks ago, warned Gazans to leave their homes in the north and flee to the south “for their own safety.”

Like thousands of other Palestinians, 32-year-old poet and writer Heba Abu Nada also abandoned her home in the north, and sought refuge with her relatives in Khan Yunis, a city in southern Gaza.

However, the sweeping bombing campaign of the apartheid regime did not even spare the south and killed many displaced people, including the young and promising Palestinian poet and novelist.

As the United Nations acknowledged, “there really is no safe place to go in Gaza.”

The death toll in the besieged Gaza Strip has jumped above 8,000 since October 7, with majority of victims being children, women and elderly.

Abu Nada, who was a popular name in the literary circles of Palestine and had earned several awards for her writings, was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1991.

She traced her roots to a refugee family from Beit Jirja, a Palestinian village northeast of Gaza.

The village was overrun by the Zionist forces during the Arab-Israeli war displacing the family in 1948. After that, her family was forced to relocate to the Gaza Strip.

As a young female Palestinian poet and writer, Abu Nada co-authored three poetry collections.

In 2017, she won second place in the Sharjah Award for Creativity in the novel category for her debut novel “Uksujinlaysalil-mawta (Oxygen isn’t for the dead).

In her novel, Abu Nada raised the issue of justice, bringing to light the harsh reality of Palestinians under occupation and comparing it with the Arab uprising of 2011.

The 32-year-old author, through her writings, portrayed the strong will of her people, their desire for a free and dignified life, the racism practiced by the occupation, and numerous atrocities committed by authoritarian regimes in their lust for maintaining power.

Her famous novel, ‘Oxygen isn’t for the dead’, is in its fourth edition now.

Abu Nada, who was often described as the “daughter of Gaza” won first place in the short stories category in a competition named after Palestine’s celebrated poet Nahid al-Rayyes.

After the Al-Aqsa Storm operation, Abu Nada used her social media accounts to present a daily account of the ordeals faced by ordinary Palestinians as a result of unrelenting Israeli air strikes.

In a Facebook post dated October 20, Abu Nada wrote:

“To God, we in Gaza are either martyrs or witnesses to liberation,

And we all wait to see where we will be.

 We stand in anticipation, oh God of your divine promise,”

The young writer was killed the same day. Her powerful voice was silenced forever.

After her tragic killing, the Culture Ministry of Palestine took to Facebook to express its profound grief over the author’s killing in the Israeli airstrike.

“Recognised widely for her immense contributions to literature, Abu Nada has left an indelible mark with her evocative novels, poetry, and stories,” the ministry posted.

In her last tweet, written on October 8, the Gaza-based poet wrote:

“Gaza’s night is dark apart from the glow of rockets,

Quiet apart from the sound of the bombs,

Terrifying apart from the comfort of prayer,

Black apart from the light of the martyrs. Good night, Gaza.”

A day before her own death, Abu Nada mourned the loss of her friends in the Israeli genocidal campaign in the besieged territory these words:

“My friend circle diminishes, turning into little coffins scattered everywhere.

As missiles launch, I can’t grasp the fleeting moments with my friends.

These aren’t just names; these are reflections of us, each with a unique face and identity.”

With a Master’s degree in clinical nutrition, Abu Nada passionately worked for the education of orphans.  She was the leader of the Science Club at a Centre for Gifted Children in Gaza, often posting about her work with the children, and the special relationship she shared with them.

Hailed as “warrior of hope”, Abu Nada’s Facebook post expressed her undeterred faith as a Palestinian struggling for the liberation of her occupied land.

“We find ourselves in an indescribable state of bliss amidst the chaos,

 Amidst the ruins, a new city emerges—a testament to our resilience,

 Cries of pain echo through the air, mingling with the blood-stained garments of doctors,

Teachers, despite their grievances, embrace their little pupils, while families display unwavering strength in the face of adversity.”

A few days before her death, the young poet composed these lines, painting the gloomy picture of her bleeding homeland.

“We are now in seventh heaven

Building a new city

Medics in bloodied uniforms,

Teachers patient with their students,

Families untouched by sorrow,

Reporters snapshotting paradise,

Poets singing of undying love,

All hail from Gaza,

Building a new Gaza above,

A Gaza, unfettered.”

This powerful poetry springs from the deepest corners of human consciousness at a time when Palestine is undergoing unprecedented death and devastation.

These evocative verses penned down by the slain poet communicated the way Palestinians face death in a terribly beautiful way, displaying their strong faith and conviction.

The untimely death of Abu Nada didn’t give her time to finish the projects she had started.

Yasser Shahin, a university lecturer who had worked closely with the young poet, lamented the loss of an extraordinary student and co-worker.

They had been collaborating on film titled, “Ayla”, he said.

“Today I received the horrifying and sad news of the ki11ing of one of my students in G@za, a brave and influential poet and author, Hiba always dreamt of writing a movie that would primer worldwide,” he wrote in a social media post.

“Hiba was ki11led before we could finish any of her screenplays; some are in the draft stage, others in the beet sheet process. Who will finish your screenplays Hiba.”

This news has been collected from reliable news agencies in the country. Click to enter the source.

Source link