This is the travelling journal of a young girl living in Palestine, trying to make it across the border to Israel. A story of struggle, faith, power and determination in light of a real life struggle in the modern world.


2. Planet Shine

To you,

Morning was rough, and my body aches from a restless sleep. My dreams were obscure, frightfully I am still decoding their meaning. So far, it is only a light I see, hot, it freckles my skin and there it ends. It concerns me, but more so than my days travels. Breakfast was trite but none the less, I am nourished for the day.

Whilst gathering my things, a lady approached me, child in her arms and handed me a letter. "Allahu Akbar" was all she said. It's strange that my English is much better than my Arabic, but I know it well from my time with the Ammar's. It means "God is the greatest". I can only imagine who the letter was intended for, but as she passed me the slip of paper, her gaze held mine. Such determination captured there infused a sense of purpose, if only for a brief time. I felt  I knew her. Words, such powerful things, posses the ammunition to build up and destroy lives. This letter, somewhere in my soul meant a matter of life or death.

I need to write. She left without a final glance towards me again, and without a signified recipient, I placed the letter in my satchel and continued on my way.

The heat tingles, and the sandals on my feet are worn. I'm am leaving Taluza, my destination next is Bayt Furik. It will be at least a weeks' travel on foot and bus, but I am determined to make it there.  There is this message from the Qu'ran that is oh so evident on my mind:

"When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers".

In the midst of my migration, I have found less and less time to pray, and may God forgive me, less and less of a reason to do so. My people are surrounded by conflict in the name of God. Their heartbeats, their memories, their rationality, they are all willing to give up in the name of Allah.

I am only 18, there is still time to grow in the name of Allah, but I cannot escape the mentality that tells me faith is the belief of the weak. Just imagine. It must take a lot of courage to not blindly believe in something, to rely upon your own understanding and conscience to make decisions and pathways for yourself.

I pray that Allah forgives me, but atheism has always intrigued me, however my religion is what keeps me strong. It is also what tears my people apart.

My bus is here, stretched to the limits it can hold, I am pushed into a confined space at the back, next to a man with a white shirt on, freshly pressed it would seem ready for the day's adventure, I can only assume. He looks at me briefly, and then looks at me again.

His stare unwelcome, I am still very much tired and am in no mood to converse; call me mean spirited but my mind has not yet had it's full rest.

"How old are you?" he questions. Must he speak to me? However, I know better than to be disrespectful to a man no less. A woman is nothing but an accessory here. It wounds me and my freedom of speech.

"18", I reply. Curt in my response and try as I might to turn away, limited by my confinement. 

"Where's your husband?"

"Excuse me?"

"Your husband, is he not travelling with you?"

I have to say, I am rather late in marriage section of my life. It's an unwritten convention that by the time I have reached 15, my chosen life partner should already have been arranged, women are not beings, they are slaves here. A sign of a man's prospects and wealth.

"I'm not married". I do wish he'd stop talking. I've a long journey ahead of me.

"A beautiful woman like you should be. I was married at thirteen. I met my bride at the altar, ugly, but smart. I didn't mind too much. We had a son. He works for a firm now. In fact, I'm heading to him now. He's single also ...".

"I am not interested, thank you. Now, if you would be so kind, I am tired, I would just like to rest my eyes for a few moments".

Without waiting for his response, I shut my eyes and felt the hum of the bus crunching on the gravel beneath it. The peace did not last long.

"He really is a smart man. Used to work in the fields, and now works at a company. Makes good money, you would do well by him. Her has contacts across the city and the country. Balqa, Jericho, Jerusalem ..."

"Jerusalem? This sparked my interest.

"Yes. But we don't speak of that much. Would you like to meet him?".

I am usually a personal of order and strict planning, but sometimes a detour may be required. Perhaps he could help me in getting across the border. This may be better than squandering from city to city without a penny to my name. 

The man looked at me with anticipated eagerness. Persistence clear in his eyes.

"Yes. Yes, I would".

I hope I made the right decision.

As-Salamu Alaykum, Aidah

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