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Khalil Abu Yahiya

Last summer I was throwing a party and bought little paper cups at Dollarama. When I got home I realized they were the size of large shot glasses, like those cups they give you at the dentist’s office. Not big enough for regular drinks. “They’ll be good for vigils,” I thought, remembering how hard it is to keep little tea lights going in the wind. The last vigil I went to was for the Tree of Life shooting and this time, I have the perfect thing for the wind. A column of little paper cups to hide little tea candles from the wind.

I’m making mini-challahs for the vigil tonight. I started yesterday so I would have enough time to bake them all in between an otherwise busy work day. Instead of work though, I spent the day fact-checking the news. That’s what I do now. I collect and fact-check news. I only go on social media to find out who had been killed. Yet somehow, like with Hayim, I had missed you, Khalil.

Khalil Abu Yahiya was crushed on Monday when an Israeli general ordered an Israeli pilot to drop a ton of explosives on a neighborhood in Gaza. Maybe. Or maybe Khalil was killed when a missile was fired by an Israeli war ship in the Mediterranean sea at his building. Maybe he was shot specifically by soldiers storming Gaza City.

He, like Hayim, had just started a new chapter in his life, getting a lecturer position at the Islamic University in Gaza. Hayim had recently finished his PhD and moved back to his Kibbutz.

I egg washed the challahs even though there’ll probably be vegans at the vigil, or others who can’t eat gluten. I thought about it but I decided to make regular non-vegan, glutinous challahs. It’s not that I don’t care. Inclusion is the fight of the day after all… I just can’t right now.

I want to stay out here, in the dusk, crying in my kitchen over another beautiful soul that’s gone because of sheer madness. I want to stay alone because I don’t want to explain how this feels to anyone but I can’t be alone. I can’t be.

I would meet Khalil on Skype because he was in Gaza and I was in Jaffa. Impenetrable worlds apart though the actual distance between us was all of 45 kilometres (I’m guessing. Google says it’s an impossible distance to give directions for and gives me an error message when I try to search). He always had a smile on his face. Was patient, answered my questions fully... Texted afterwards to see how it all went and wished me happy birthdays from year to year.

I interviewed him about what was happening on the ground in the last war… or maybe it was the one before… 2014? 2012? How do I lose count? There are so many names I now have to delete from my contacts.

And that’s it… no more texting, no more Skyping, no more new exciting job. I don’t even know if the university that hired him still stands. Khalil doesn’t.

I better go now. The challahs are getting cold and I’m going to be late to the vigil.


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