Monthly Archives: July 2010

Peering Through the Fence

Holding their green passports in their hands, people were hustling there and back while, making weird gestures on their faces, others were nervously shouting over their phones. From afar, a baby was crying out load as his mother, lulling him, patted him on the back so as to hush him. She restlessly trotted to an officer in a blue uniform seated on a chair at the gate. The wretched mother talked to the officer who politely replied to her making signs which I construed as I-can-not-help-you. She pleaded with him, and he repeated the same gestures. The officer was a good man, and it seemed he really couldn’t help her. On the right side of the road leading to the gateway, two cafes crowded with customers who were none other than the very passengers who had gathered in one of these two cafés so as to protect themselves from the burning sun of July in this morning. The customers, or the passengers, were having breakfast. Some were drinking coffee and puffing at their cigarettes. Others were clutching their hookah hoses as they waited for their names to be called out. There was no space left to me inside the café, and I had to wait outside, just behind the fence.

I wasn’t a passenger, however. And I didn’t wait for my name to be called out. I waited for my brother who had been away from home for three years and a half and would be home in a little while. My brother studies medicine at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. He decided to pay his family in Gaza a short visit, one month at the utmost; for, as he said, he couldn’t tolerate staying away from home anymore.

However, it was immensely distressing just to think of visiting the Rafah Crossing at that time: at a time when those who were strictly stifled for four long years were eventually granted a tiny vent hole by their neighboring merciful Egyptian authorities to take a short breath before they are stifled again. Every one wanted to breathe, and for that reason, the two cafes on the right side of the gateway were packed with passengers for the first time in ages unknowingly stifling each other with their breath and smoking. In all cases, it wasn’t my choice, and it was just improper to be enjoying a good sleep at the very moment my brother would be going through all sorts of humiliating suffering since he would be crossing into Gaza with an expired passport, not to mention an expired residency card. What one can do? He couldn’t tolerate it anymore… Continue reading

Al-Shejaya Market

“Hey, what’s up with you?” probably most of you have already started to wonder. Indeed, I’ve been writing about public markets very often recently, and it’s just fun to write about markets, almost as fun as wandering through a public market streets along with your fellows. Penniless.

This will definitely help avoid any misunderstanding where some of you perhaps would think this man is enjoying a fair amount of money than usual and is hanging around at a different market each time.

Following my last visit to the Jabaliya market last week, I thought I could do with another visit to another market in a wholly different direction. I hit the road toward the east, particularly to Al-Shejaya (or Al-Sejaya as my grandmother and many others are used to saying) In fact, this time I looked for no notes to jot down. And although I looked for a brown shirt and gray slacks (yes, I had enough money for that.) I could have found the best of dresses in a closer market than that of Al-Shejaya. However, no market is as charmingly public as Al-Shejaya. No market is as pleasantly populous as that of Al-Shejaya. And those who live at Al-Shejaya know better…

My journey through the market started off as I met a friend at a well-known spot at the gateway of the market if there is any gate at all. I am not sure if it has any name either; all I know is that it is a statue— or something similar to a statue, for in Gaza nothing is certain; all matters are relative— a statue of an eagle looking up into the sky. We met there and advanced inward a well-structured labyrinth of passageways of Al-Shejaya market. Continue reading

A Jabaliya Refugee.

In an attempt to grasp the immense variety of meanings encompassed between the frontiers of the camp, I headed yesterday towards Jabaliya, or the Camp. In fact, I am not living so far from the camp, almost five kilometers to the west, but as I wandered through the market streets, I could tell how different the camp and its people, particularly those in the market, are from other refugees…

Jabaliya was the first place I resided in when my family came to live in Gaza, the original place where they lived most of their lives. That was when my father was laid off and had to come back to live at Home. I remained a Jabaliya refugee for almost five years. It was the first and most beautiful years I spent in Palestine. Sweet years.

“All people in the camp are the same,”

Probably, but Continue reading

Barack Hussein: An Embarrassing Oxymoron

A while ago a friend of mine shared a piece of news on the Haaretz newspaper website; the piece in short sheds light on Netanyahu’s latest visit to the US and his ‘very positive’ meeting with the 44th and first African-American president of the United States ‘Barack Hussein’—or ‘Barack Obama’ as you might say.

To be honest, I am not so clued up with the daily news of Obama, nor am I so interested in Netanyahu’s visits to the United States. I am not, and it is more appropriate to say that I check Haaretz most often for nothing but that I have a passion for the English language, and I just love their usage of English.

However, this time the case was quite different and a bit amusing. Funny, indeed. The US president Obama thinks that the Israelis are skeptical about him and his strategies since his middle name is ‘Hussein’— this was the queer quintessence of this piece. It might be naïve to say this, but I always wondered why it is that the relationship between Israel and the United States is always so amiable and friendly; and, thanks to a university requirement, it was just a short while earlier I came to root out the real answer for that question which I will keep for myself to avoid straying off from my major point. (and possibly in addition to more important reasons) At any rate, this being the case, Obama should care about how the Israelis would feel about him, and that they are skeptical about him is not encouraging for the President, of course. Nonetheless, this is not what I am concerned with since I just illustrated, or rather hinted, it is normal and necessary that the two countries always be on good terms, and the relationships between them should always be kindly, welcoming, and amicable. The cause why I am writing this is how brilliant and sharp-witted the American president turned out to be. He (obviously having spent long nights trying to figure it out) has come to the ultimately remarkable and entertaining conclusion: The Israelis are skeptical about Mr. President because his middle name is ‘Hussein’. Continue reading

It is Only Palestine

8000 rockets are no excuse
Suicide bombers, it’s all just a ruse
Unless you’re Israel, self-defense is right
A Jewish army response is disproportionate might
The activists sailed to deliver their aid
Jihad cash is what they were paid
Turkish delight in the media’s glare
Slashing knives don’t seems fair

And the song goes on…

This is how I sat listening to the precariously uncontrollable charming power of music: A strikingly amazing Israeli piece which made me on the verge of crying sympathizing with the poor defenseless Israelis against the terrifically heavy-armed and fanatic Palestinians.

However, while I sat all ears staring at the young lady as she gently played the piano with her slight fingers, a sudden immense repertory of images kept turning up in my mind: Images of bloody corpses lying lifelessly on the ground amidst the rubble, a huge devastated area covered with an enormous, rising, thick, black smoke: the area has just been bombarded with a 1000-pound bombshell that was dropped by a first-time flying US-made gigantic F16; images of phosphorus bomb as if it were the hair of a bogey: thousands of white braids of serpentine descending like white lines of smoke creeping towards the earth: to burn; Images of a mother tearing her hair, whining over the death of her eldest son who hasn’t been married for more than a month: the agonizing wails of the mother are drastically intensified by the dumb silence of the wife who retreated to a corner of her crammed room, covered in black, and staring at the crying women about; images of women and children endlessly queuing up in the early morning in front of a bakery waiting for their lot of bread; images of a firefighter standing before a huge burning fire which lighted the dead night holding on to the water hose while helicopters hovering above in the sky in the aftermath of shelling a mosque; images of trickling blood, trickling tears, corpses, destruction and debris; sounds of wails, cries, whines, snivels, bombs, overhead drones, and prayer calls. All these images and others far more disconcerting persisted in showing up and never stopped as long as the song went on. Continue reading

Odd Ordinaries

As he slipped his forefinger from under his square glasses down his own cheek, the most renowned and great Palestinian poet Tamim Al-Barghouti carried on narrating his brilliant poem ‘Your Love’ which opens up with the lines that follow:

Your love is like a bird that landed on my shoulders
As if it were a gift from nowhere…
It blesses me, and I watch myself so that I won’t scare it.
I want it to stay there – on my shoulders –
God knows how much it flew until it reached me
And along the way how many times it escaped demise…

This, however, is never about how to love, but rather its ultimate lesson is how to live in a region the poet himself has never been to and perhaps has never imagined. He gave the lesson but probably never knew there are people who are desperately in need for his lesson. The place where his words “To live an ordinary life nowadays: that is something extraordinary” do make sense to those who live, or love, here.

This place is indubitably cursed by those who inhabit it, but still they do love it. An elderly man, grabbing his walking stick curses every passing moment he spends in the dark; he curses every passing boy who, being pursuit by others playmates, accidently hit him; waving his walking stick, he curses the boy, his father, his grandfather and up to the greatest grandfather in his lineage. He curses every passing car, every passing girl, and every crying baby. And as he sits at the threshold, he blesses himself. Continue reading

Serves you right, Maradona!

As my fellows and I gathered in an already packed café to watch the expected highly competitive match between Germany and Argentina in the quarter finals of the World Cup 2010— the reason why we watch a match in a café most probably is plain in view of the fact that this blog’s owner has been talking of power outages for ages and ages— all at once the brilliant star of the German forward “Thomas Mueller” stooped like an eagle towards the ball and hit it with his head scoring his fourth goal in the World Cup and the first for Germany in this match amidst loud hailing and applause for the most part of the cheerful crowd. This goal, in fact, made me fall into dead silence as I saw my best football player “Lionel Messi” stand lacking of all capabilities to do anything whatsoever so as to rescue his and his team credited reputation as previously twice World Cup winners. This goal was followed by another. And another. And another. The final result of the match referred to 4-0 for Germany. At that exact moment, I never imagined myself to be as cheerful as the crowd that has been hailing for Germany while I supported Maradona with all my heart.

4-0! Serves you right, Maradona…

What a stupid unfortunate creature I would have been, had Argentina won the match! What a hapless doomed refugee camp I would have been, had Messi scored his long-awaited goal! What an unpatriotic “collaborator” I would have been had Maradona fulfilled his discredited pledge and walked naked along the streets of Buenos Aires! Continue reading

Back Home

Back Home

“We stop.” The boy replied.

As my pleasant, joyous, exhausting, and long day came close to its end, fidgeting, I stood at a crossroad waiting for a cap to give me a drive back home. With off road lights, it was dark. Cars were rushing past me taking their lights away as fast as they procured them. I hadn’t waited for long when a car pulled over, and I got in.

Inside the car, the driver was a man, as it seemed to me, in his early forties; multiple sparse gray hairs on his wide plump face made him look pretty older. It happened that the woman sitting next to him, in the front seat, is his wife. Her little baby sleeping in her arms, she was spoiling the elder one, apparently at five years of age, teasing him so as to sing for her. I listened carefully to the boy as he went on singing:

“As we live, we’ll wait our returning home. We’ll never forget our right to return home” The five-year boy admiringly sang.

Only then, the driver stopped at a red traffic light.

“A traffic light!” the boy exclaimed as if he had seen something unusual.

The father replied, “So what?” he looked at his son, pecking his own boy’s cheek, possibly turning it into red. “What should we do when we see a red traffic light?”

“We stop.” The boy replied. Continue reading