Wed | Apr 24, 2024

Letter of the Day | Spare a thought for families suffering in Gaza

Published:Saturday | March 2, 2024 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

As a widower living alone, a lot of time is spent in front of the television with my constant companion Chico the Hahn’s Macaw perched on my right shoulder. He never complains about the programmes we watch, nor suggests that we switch channels. We watch news reports from provincial, national and several international sources, always trying to pick the wheat from the chaff, and enjoy many documentaries.

Depending on what’s showing, my emotions sometimes get the better of me, and I may burst into fits of giggles or laugh out really loud when a politician or commentator makes a stupid remark. Chico responds by loudly mimicking my laughing. Other politicians and commentators will claim something so absolutely ridiculous or blatantly untruthful that my response is to angrily hurl obscenities at the TV screen. Chico reacts with eardrum-splitting squawks.

A few days ago, we were watching a BBC-TV World News report from Gaza, where the camera followed an 11 year-old boy called Mohammad, whose daily duty was to collect food for his family. He was shown going to various food distribution centres and soup kitchens throughout Rafah; along with thousands of other children and young adults, hoping to get one meal a day. Everyone had their bowl or saucepan in the desperate search for daily sustenance, and eventually Mohammad had his blue plastic bowl filled with baked beans. He made his way back home, which turned out to be a ragged tent structure accommodating his parents and three younger siblings. His mother was so pleased to see her brave son return with the bowl of beans that would be all they ate that day. She was a very frail and gaunt 31-year-old suffering from bone cancer, but looked about 60, and advised that her husband was out looking for any odd job to earn a few shekels to buy diapers for the baby.

My emotions got the better of me and tears flowed freely. Yet, at the same time, there was a feeling about the utter futility of war, which will surely have all these youngsters growing up perpetuating the hatred between the religions that has existed from time immemorial. Sitting quite stunned facing the TV screen, I felt Chico’s little black rubbery tongue licking my right cheek, as he often does, but figured he was drying those tears shed for the young family in Gaza.

BERNIE SMITH

Parksville, BC

Canada