It is true smuggling tunnels make it easier for Palestinians in Gaza to have their basic needs of food, oil, even electric machines, and electronic devices, and above all of cars somewhat met; without tunnels our life would be inconceivably harder than it already is. But that never means Gaza economy is “flourishing”, or that the tunnels have “boosted” Gaza economy. Gaza is not Ramallah, after all. It is true also that every once in a while, it occurs to the compassionate Israeli authorities that the Gaza population, although they deserve to rot in a hell-like Gaza for electing a terrorist organization such as Hamas to be their government, their humaneness shall always prevail over all other urges for vengeance, hatred and political schemes, and it shall never cease to astound the US and world benefactors; it is true they allow some of these basic needs—not cars, of course –into Gaza. Only that enough is enough, but “some” is not enough. Only that “some” is not equivalent for the “sufficient amounts” promulgated by Israeli telescreens.
“Some” is not sufficient for a Gaza kid to spend his school vocation larking about in the aisles of the camp with his playmates. That Gaza has a sea is such a blessing. There is no sea in Ramallah. On their vocations, Gaza kids go to the sea, rarely with their families and mostly on foot, swimming and frolicking along the seashore, splashing around in the unclean seawater. They almost have fun. Being such a generous vent, Gaza sea is always crowded with its population, largely with kids and women. It is however very unsettling when this sea, being such a typically tempting attraction, turns to be a vent for these kids where they never bask in fighting the unruly waves and the graceful sands but rather where they sell their little commodities to the crowds of people who will have inhabited every little space all about the beach.
The other day, I had an argument with my brother about how authentic a description of the loud banging sounds endlessly produced by the sea such as “harmonious/melodious” is. That was utter noise, I believed. But not until I was struck, indeed reminded, with what “noise” truly means by the small rivalry vendors, fantastically inventing the most poetic phrases, and high pitchedly calling out with the prices of their commodities in attempt to promote a sack of chips or a packet of nuts, or rather to inspire someone here or there coaxing them into buying their stuff. All along the beach, they speed up toward every single group of people offering them to buy anything in return for the cheapest prices ever. Only in Gaza, scores of these little kids become tireless, pale-faced, grownup vendors.
A few days ago, while I was taking a cab late at night, I had to get into the back seat of the car since the front one was already occupied by an old man. For reasons unknown to me, I fixed my eyes on him: he was tall and thin, his back slightly bent, so I assumed the old man was exhausted by work. Suddenly, as if nudged by my bold looks, the old man look back to catch me scrutinizing him and shot me a short look before he turned his head again. I was right to surmise his face was grey with fatigue, but still that look baffled me greatly, though I came to conclude it only blended together fatigue and undue anxiety.
In a moment, the driver slowed down his car as we approached the turn and asked the old man next to him if this was the place he wanted to get to. The old man muttered incomprehensibly, and as though he were recovering from an offense just caused by the driver’s downright inquiry, he looked out of the window and roamed the place with his eyes. To my amazement, he told the driver to drop him somewhere else. “Take me to wherever you are going.”
The old man had neither a destination nor an abode. He turned to be a homeless prole.
We arrived at Jabaliya, where I was heading for. The car was already moving at a moderate speed when a little boy ahead of us vigorously motioned to the driver. Once the car stopped, the boy got closer, and in a low voice, he asked the driver to give him a ride home for free.
Through the driver’s several inquiries to the boy, I came to know that the boy is one of the noisy vendors who work along the beach all day long, and that he had walked all the distance from the Gaza seashore up to Jabaliya, all on foot, and that he could no longer endure the pain tearing through his legs. The boy cheerfully told us that he sold all his commodities. And that he had money we also knew.
No sooner had I got off the car than it dawned on me I just accompanied three sorts of the Gaza proles.