This is going to be a short one.
For the past few days, I have been emotional more than the usual. We all have these days right? So I thought… I mean what’s the big deal if every now and then we tend to be over sensitive, observant to everything around us and easily irritated, it’s just one of those days.
Little did I know that it is a special occasion for me. Believe it or not 3rd or September marks the day I left Palestine to the Italy for the first time. It’s also the date (5th Sep) i left the U.K. To Singapore. A coincidence!
I still didn’t figure all that out, till my dad texted me asking me how was I doing, I answered the usual response I’ve been giving him for the past 5 years or so: “I am doing well dad, and you, the family? My brothers? Is everyone alright!
He answered the usual, “we’re all good” he said. Then I burst, I tell him dad I really miss you, I am rarely the type of expressive person. My life got me disconnected partially from my inner feelings to a certain extent. Bottom line is, I learned to step on my feelings whenever there is a need for it. Not this time though. after telling my dad how much I miss him, and how I feel inside completely distanced and disconnected from the family, and how I remember him everyday and see him within certain events that remind me of him… after all that, I really felt that he became a stranger to me! Ever missed someone to the extent that you feel they’re strangers to you… I am at the verge. Mom, Dad I don’t want to be a stranger to either of you.
My Hunch was Right…Gaza Under Attack on Eid Festivity
Aren’t we tired from the Same play over and over again. 3 days only after I wrote my last post about how fearful I am for my family and for my mother specifically, this sh*^ happens. The usual play of “rockets fired from within Gaza” for some reason, and despite Gaza is smaller than Singapore itself, miraculously no one knows who did it. Everytime the Israeli Offence wants to justify attacks, again miraculously they’re given that on a silver platter.
I wake up today to the news of my own people between wounded and in critical condition. I read the lines and it strikes me that my hunch was right (read my precious blog post), I start walking around my room, stand in the corners, talk to myself and try to convince myself my family are ok. I can’t get a hold of them now because they have no power to turn internet or cellphone towers. See, the bless in Gaza is that you have a power station, but fuel isn’t allowed in! The only thread of updates connects me to my family now, is a newsbar at various news channels. We might be lucky to take the headlines, but when you’re family is at stake, and you get owned by the fear of losing them, even HEADLINES don’t help! And the nerve wrecking play is reworded again.
Today is the second day of Eid, and I could not feel it less. the first thing that crossed my mind yesterday the first day was the time when I was still a kid. Eid for me was the happiest day of my life, I used to countdown days to it. My dad would get me presents, my mom would make breakfast at 8:00 AM; and trust me after 30 days of fasting as a 10-year old, morning breakfast couldn’t make me happier. My brothers and sisters all get themselves ready with new apparel that we spent a week before preparing. We’d go out, salute my uncles and extended family, get some candy, see our neighbors, their kids setting around the street, used to have a community that made life beautiful. Yes some occasions Eid wasn’t as happy, specially when we know there will be/ was a war against my hometown. But, we’d still use the occasion to cheer up.
You might wonder now, why am I talking about how Eid is different, and how that is not a scary occasion! and you’re right, these are just beautiful memories and sometimes we got to hang onto their leftovers from the past if we can’t recreate or live them again. Why am I scared though! It would have been really nice if I could spend Eid with my family! Just saying, there is nothing wrong with that. Scares me is the fear of saying goodbye that took over me since I left my parents and family. It’s not that I feel uprooted, it is the fear that one day I won’t find someone to feel uprooted from.
See, after living 4 wars I developed this weird instinct that sniffs fear. Something tells me there is something on the verge of happening in Palestine, I hope I was wrong, but I am really tired, I don’t know if I can take it anymore. I am terrified of the idea that I chose to leave Palestine for the sake of my education, my profession, my life…. it is all my my my… selfish son allowed life to drift him away from his family in despair. Selfish son who chose to be a refugee for the second and third time… and while many call it a world-traveler, I say that’s the bright side that keeps me going! but sometimes it strikes me that I am not just an ordinary world traveler, I am a forced individual in the diaspora who couldn’t say Eid Mubarak to his own mom face to face for 5 years in a row. Happy Eid Mom, I wish you were in front of me right now, and I wish I can be next to you if anything happens.
Not Reviewed, Not Edited. Straight chaotic thoughts to keyboard strokes! (Typos Alert)
I am setting in front of the screen with a jar of strawberries on my right, trying my best to keep it together. Now that I found something to start with as I struggle to translate the emotional storm inside me into words, let me give it a second shot…
I just got out from the movies after watching 120 minutes of memories of the Second World War, The Zookeeper’s Wife, the movie portrayed life in Poland before the start of the war from 1939 to the end of it in 1945. A far intense experience and a harsh memory of what happened to Jews who lived in Poland back then. A Real-life story of a wife who became a hero to hundreds during WWII. Antonina Żabińska and her Husband Dr. Jan Żabiński, living in Warsaw running a zoo of their own, till one day, the German army took ownership of the Polish people and their land. A quick sequence of events: war started and The German Army reaches Poland, by order from their command, they gather all Jews in Poland to live in a ghetto neighborhood where they lived in extreme oppression in a besieged small neighborhood without no food, no shelter from the cold of Europe, and no connection to the outside world. I shed a tear… Antonina and Jan are forced to close the zoo, and decide to secretly join the resistance movement. They put into action plans to smuggle as many of their friends (Jews) outside the Ghetto! They succeed, they save over 300 people from the Ghetto, later, they get caught, things go nerve-wreckingly fast and the German Army withdraw from Poland by the end of the war.
Now that’s the story of the movie, the interpretations that I had in my head were ten fold. My own memories are all awaken with this scenery and I taste my second tear. I saw in the agony and suffering of the Jewish people’s eyes, in the eyes of Urszula – the Jewish child who was a victim of child abuse and rape after she lost her family, in the internal struggle of Antonina and Jan’s little boy – Ryszard who saw the oppression of the occupier and wanted to resist even feeling useless… in the extreme desperate situation Jews lived under in the ghettos and in their pain… in all that, I saw the suffering and agony of Palestinians.
I kept asking myself, what all Jews do wrong to deserve this? what’s their fault in all this? What’s the crime Jewish kids and women and men committed to be treated this way! I kept wondering, who assumed the right to mistreat humans in such an inhumane way neglecting any forms of dignity or minimal respect for all forms of freedom or rights!
Then I repeat the same questions again… this time about the Palestinian kids and women who live in a huge ghetto called Gaza Strip where I am from and where I lived for 17 years of my life. A group punishment of families, thousands of them, Kids, women, innocent men doesn’t matter, as long as you are a Palestinian, then you’re tagged; just like as long as you’re Jewish, you were tagged too.
Its funny when you watch a movie depicts what happened 6 decades ago, and you relate to everything that happened in your life. I watch the movie and I remember my childhood, 5 wars I have lived not one. (2000, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015). I was 10 years old when the occupation came to our house, 18 when I first saw live bombings of my whole city, and I was 24 when two members of my family were killed in a war.
I watch the movie and I remember the look in the eyes of kids who lost their families in a bombing. I watch the movie and recall the courage of people who tried to smuggle food and medicine while Gaza is under siege. Gaza Strip and the West Bank are two Ghettos of Palestine… both filled with families who forced out of their houses, babies who grew up under bombings and all they saw in their lives was war, explosions and destruction. Filled with refugees who fled other cities in Palestine to be faced with a ghetto in Gaza.
Now, we are in 2017 and almost 6 million Palestinians live between Gaza and the West Bank Ghettos. Gaza has been besieged since 2008, no one is allowed in or out! Its the exact same situation, only flipped this time and 77 years later.
Is it me or you also feel that this blog allowed me to express what I have been keeping to myself for years. Having a place to write down things instead of keeping them inside was a good idea! It feels much better as if a weight has been lifted off. The idea that someone like you out there is reading this feels as if he/ she shares the burden and helps me carry on. I know that I am complaining a lot these days throwing three posts in a raw where I talk about me me me and how unusual my life is, but I guess that’s going to be the theme – welcome to my life. I’ll try as much as I can to throw a couple of happy posts here and there out of optimism.
The reason I am writing you is because I have a happy occasion in the family, one that happened three times already (as three of my siblings are married) and will only happen twice more (yes I Have 6 siblings but don’t panic). Anyways, next Wednesday 5th April 2017 will be my youngest brother’s wedding. Under usual circumstances that’s a happy occasion and this would have been a happy post! or maybe I wouldn’t have written about it because I’d be too busy helping in the wedding preparations.
As the groom’s brother, I am the one to stand by him in preparation for his bachelors party, a gathering of friends and family celebrating the night before the wedding (which looks something like the photo down there), Yet, here I am 2,520 kilometers away trying to ask for some updates or pictures from my family to see how are the preparations going along. If you live in a normal world and wanted to know how that feels, am sorry but I don’t know any metaphor in the world would be suitable to describe how to feel like a stranger in your own family.
How difficult should it be to attend your own brother’s wedding! life shouldn’t be made that difficult, specially if your home is literally a few hours plane ride. Palestine is not that far away from Qatar. I can’t even dare to stand at the Palestinian boarder despite having a Palestinian ID (semi-Palestinian at least, I’ll explain in another post) and a Palestinian Passport (the bless of my life). I understand that it is far beyond complicated to answer the following question, but out of frustration I am just going to throw it out there… wondering why no one in the Palestinian or the Israeli Governments can do or cares to do something about that!
I just wish I can log into Booking.com, click Flights from Doha > Palestine – pay the couple of hundred $ and head up to the airport. Say hi to my family, attend my brothers wedding, have a ton of Palestinian scrumptious food made by my mom, and then head back to Doha again to resume life! As an expat, don’t I deserve to feel home for a bit every now and then. How are we in 2017 and travelling to some places of the world is still not possible. #sigh #boarders #StuffIhavetoEndure #Brother’swedding2017 #nofamilytimeforme #mymom #PalestineorIsrael #Thestoryofmylife
Out of curiosity and pure imaginary thinking, I search flights to Palestine (pretending everything is possible), and this is what I found. I don’t want to start again so I’ll have to end this post here and keep it to myself. Maybe for the next post or the one after I explain the not so simple story of why I have a semi-Palestinian/Israeli ID.
Not Reviewed, Not Edited. Straight chaotic thoughts to keyboard strokes! (Typos Alert).
This post is all about how “I” feel being deprived seeing my own family and mom for 4 years in a row and not being able to do something about it. Full of “I’s” and a bit of a narcissist’s post.
4 years of not being able to see my mother, I don’t think I can handle it anymore. When I left Palestine for the first time of my life in September 2012 on my way to pursue my higher education abroad, I told my mom one thing before I close the door behind me. I hugged her and said:
“It will be just a year mom, I’ll see you in 365 days”.
Little did I know that this year will drag to 4 years. Now my ultimate wish is becoming to be able to visit my mom in Palestine… I have to wait for politics to feel the pain in me and maybe work something out with the boarders. I am drenched, Every day of the past 3 years 6 months and 27 days felt like I am stepping one step away from my roots, my country, my family and mostly my mom. Of all my family members I have to admit that I was so attached to her. I was indeed the typical mom’s boy and she meant the world to me and still does (no am not shy of admitting that). I live in a daily struggle of keeping in touch with her capitalizing on the simple social media literacy she developed just so she can keep a contact (generations differences), yet, still it just doesn’t suffice.
I still recall how sometimes during my exams she’d knock the door and walk in with a cup of hot chocolate, or tea made her own amazing way. I still remember the times when she used to walk in while am laying down with a pile of unmade laundry and throws them at me. We would then start random conversations as she folds them and put them in my and my brothers’ closet. I miss that, the set of small details and the sense of closeness that doesn’t get communicated through mere 10 minutes Skype call.
I see myself as a perfect stranger to her now. Somehow everyday I find myself busy in my own life here in Qatar away from her. We talk once a day sometimes, sometimes we have weeks where we only talk once or twice, and sometimes I find myself dragged to spend a month without getting in contact with her. I HATE MYSELF FOR THAT. But again, its all this time and distance that made me somehow acceptable to the status quo. Maybe I am just not too satisfied with counting on the internet or social media to keep contact, maybe I am frustrated with it that I run away. or maybe a voice call or a WhatsApp message is just NOT ENOUGH for me!!!
Then comes mothers day, the day I remember that its been one more year that I haven’t seen her, hugged her or even helped her with something. The day where few pictures is all I can get from my brothers and sisters back in Palestine who celebrated her day. That’s me now, that son who’s miles away to whom we send pics from our life as a family, so that maybe (just maybe) that would serve as a reminder that he has a family still!
I set on my own, thinking of her, thinking of the reasons I am incapable of visiting her or even my home country. I think of mothers day as a mark for one more year passed, and in another 365 days another mothers day will come….till the day I fear when I have no one to celebrate mothers day for. I am terrified of that day. I need to end this post here.
(Thought about deleting the last part but because I don’t edit or review… I’ll keep it straight from my heart to keyboard strokes”.