Each time I step on the soil of Gaza, I am down base touched with this insistence to existence. Entering through the Erez (ghetto-like) entrance, with all its humiliating aspects that carefully strip you out of whatever left of your humanity. You cannot but enter wit the feeling that is mixed with apprehensiveness, agitation, frenzied from one side, and wariness, franticness, and nervous from the other side. Fear, of course, is not a discussed issue; you are surrounded by it with this dark psychological emotion you just has until you enter this cagey exit and received by what seems hijacked in time scene of a Fateh facilitating borderline towards a Hamas inquiring reception.
Those first hours can be not experienced as a general blueprint of entering Gaza. You would wonder, what kind of species live behind all those closed seized wired walled caged blockades? Everything insists on being part of a vacuum that continues to absorb you within its hollow sensations of more and more uneasiness.
The images of the damage caused by the extreme aggression, or probably aggression after aggression, stand still as a witness. Building within destruction. Bullets engraved in the walls of building or leftover of the building. A series of forms of damage, that represents itself like an artistic mural. A mural of a destruction that carries the mind unconsciously and forcibly to lived memories of those buildings and streets. A ghost-like haunted area after area, with buildings continuing to tell you a story of oppression, misery, and unjustified, unfair death.
As the expansion of the sea starts bringing itself to the scene, a different pulse of humanity smoothly take you to some normalization with the vacuum you have just been dispersed in. The sea should have this magic of reforming itself with each move of its existence….
These are the people of Gaza…
They are like the sea that embraces them. A continuous energy of being.
Smooth and rough. Quiet and angry. Kindness and meanness. Generous and stingy. Fun and madness.
A way of living and a swallowing monster of death.
That moment when the sea takes over all your senses and gives you a full briefing of what it means to be Gaza.
I always think of the word “resilience,” and how it describes us, Palestinians. In Gaza, you see this word turning into actual meanings and resemblances with non-stop images that keep invading your mind, like the tireless waves hitting the shore.
I enter the hotel, to make the first surprise; gazing with my eyes not sure if this is real. Another swinging between the real and the unreal. I am in Gaza; I smile to myself, and yes they have such hotels. Again, a vacuum of wondering, and questioning, “these people should be sick and miserable,” something buzzes in my head like a mosquito until I slap it with my hand. “These people are just people” I assure myself. I get to the room, open the window, to be captured with the view. A view that cannot be but reality. People. Just people. Average people. Children, youth, women, with niqab or hijab, families. Music, shouting’s, playing, swimming, walking, eating, drinking, chatting, relaxing, picnicking, rendezvous-ing, sitting, rowing, fishing, sailing. An unbelievable, overwhelming interaction of normality that takes your breath away.
It is another beach, scene, of what should be on nay another sea. However, yet, in Gaza, it has a different flavor. Originality. Transforming. Energetic…. Spicy like the delicious Gazan cuisine.
I feel carried away, with amazement and curiosity. Bewildered each time I would say. Not sure that this is real.
Inside me, an image of poverty and destruction overwhelmed with desperation and despair. Moreover, in front of me, a picture of an interactive scenery of normality. A scene I can see on any shore in the world, with the addition of exclusivity for Arabs. Genuine existence. …Persistence … to be, to live.
Not every city can reflect itself to you through its people. Gaza is among those. It is not the sea. It is not the beauty or the monuments. It is not the ugliness or the destruction. It is not the richness or poverty. It is not the facilities, the streets, and the services. It is the people. It is one place that makes you see what it means to be lived. It makes you feel life through its inhabitants … and yet, you cannot get to them as you pass through them.
You live them.
With all their stories… told and untold.
With their non-ending miseries, tragedies, traumas.
With their eternal destined fate of displacement and disruption.
With their never tired resilience despite exhaustion and blocked opportunities.
To be continued….with stories of resilience and resilience