The two children did not know what was going on. Their mom kept holding them and going from a room to another, and within the same room from corner to another.
“Mommy, what exactly is this game that we are playing?” asked Ahmed, the young one.
“We are not playing a game, dear.”, answered his mom who had to put them down and wipe the sweat running over her face.
She put them in the hallway and started looking at them, she remembered when she was single and she was talking with her married friend asking her about the war.
“So, how was this war different?”
“Having children makes it completely different. You stop thinking about your own safety, your house, money or anything. Your only concern will be your children. What to do with them, how to protect them if your house was attacked, how to sacrifice your life for the sake of theirs.”
At that moment, she remembered her friend’s words vividly, she did not get what she meant until she had children of her own.
Since the war has started, horrible images have never left her mind, they occupied it just like the Israelis did to Palestine. And they refused to let go of her mind, just like them! Having electricity was a two-sided weapon, she was able to watch t.v. and use her computer but at the same time she was able to see the horrible pictures of the war’s victims, of the many people killed in streets for no reason, just being Palestinians. The pictures that kept haunting her were the ones of the killed children, she saw her daughter in each girl lying on the ground with her doll in her hand. She saw her young boy in every child killed while sleeping thinking that his mother’s chest will protect him.
“What if they bomb from the east and the wall of the hall way falls on us?” she thought to herself. She picked the children again and went into the living room. A scream came out of her mouth when she recognized that they were sitting under the window, the most dangerous place. Tears fell down her eyes while she moved her kids to another place.
She looked at them and said “I am sorry, kids.. mommy is really sorry.”
“Why are you sorry mommy, did you do something wrong? Did you lie?” her daughter asked, innocently.
“No dear , I did not. It is just that I put you in an unsafe place. It is my mistake.”
“Why don’t we go to your room, mommy? Before he left, daddy told you that it is the safest and we shouldn’t leave it?”
She paused for a second to think of her husband, whom she hasn’t known anything about for a long time, he works as a paramedic and the moment the war started, he had to go to save people leaving them behind. She remembers telling her by the door:
“Take good care of yourself and the children. My biggest fear is getting a phone call to pick up dead bodies to come and find that they are yours. I would die….”
Her husband, the hero, who fears nothing , turned at that moment into a child terrified that he might lose his family. She smiled and said :”Don’t worry dear. When you come back you will find us here, waiting. “
Her daughter’s hand stroking her shoulder brought her back from her thoughts.
“Mommy, are you ok? “
“So, why don’t we go to your safe room?”
“Because I told you that there is a mouse there, and you know how afraid I am of mice. I closed it so it does not come out until your father comes and kills him. That is why we cannot go into the room as long as the mouse is in it.”
Her son sat into her lap and asked:”Mommy, why are you afraid of mice but not cats ? We all love Jerry but hate Tom !!”
She couldn’t not smile, she looked at him and said : “Well, in real life things are different.”
“Mommy , why is the sky blue?”
“Oh , God!!” she said, she knew it is one of the many times where her boy starts asking many questions about the universe.
“I don’t know why, it is just blue. “
“I really don’t know. And please STOP asking me questions, mommy is not in a good mood sweety.”
The boy got a little bit sad and sat away from her, she did not want to upset him, so she hugged him and said: “Let’s have a deal, you are allowed to ask two more questions, and then we will have a break.”
The little boy smiled and went back to sitting on her lap
“So , mommy, is the mouse ‘occupying’ your room?”, he asked.
She wasn’t sure she heard the question correctly, she had to wait for a couple of seconds before asking:
“ ‘ occupying’ !! do you even know the meaning of this word ?!”
“Yes, my father told me once that when someone stays in a place that does belong to him and kicks the owners out of it, it is called occupation, isn’t that what the mouse is doing, isn’t he occupying our room?”
She remained silent for some time, it wasn’t the first time that her son has asked her a quizzling question, but this one was the most surprising one.
“Well, yes… I guess, he is.”
“Ok, then. Now let’s move to the second question.”
“Remember . “ , she said firmly, ”You only have one question left?”
“Ok, what if the mouse moves to another room, and then to a third one… what will happen to us, if we keep leaving each room he goes to, will we end up out of our house? Where should we go? We cannot go to grandma’s house because you said it is dangerous. Will we die?? “
Moments passed, the boy thought that he was a part of a staring contest that his mom was winning, she kept looking at him unable to say a word.
Suddenly, she stood up, went to the kitchen and brought the sweeper. On her way out she looked at the kids and said: “Stay in your places, do not move no matter what!!”
“But where are you going to go mommy.”, the worried voice of her daughter asked.
“I am going to get our room back.”
She went to her room, took a deep breath and opened it fast so she could enter without giving the mouse a chance to leave. She was terrified, she would die if she sees a cockroach, what about a mouse!! She saw him, standing there in the middle of the room, he could feel her fear and that was why he did not move.
“Listen to me, you dirty occupier” , she said to the mouse. “You could drive me out of the room, but this room is my children’s safe place and I will die before letting you be the reason of their death.
She screamed her lungs out!! She attacked the mouse that ran all over the room, she fought with every bit of strength she had. She cornered him and bam !!! one hit, two , three , four, five, six…. The mouse was dead.
She sat next to the dead mouse’s body and started weeping, her kids came into the room and got disgusted by the dead mouse lying in the corner. The hugged their mommy and covered their faces in her shoulders.