Amidst the wreckage and turmoil of this world, I seek refuge in places of comfort. In Gaza, they’re not usually physical places per se, for there’s no safe place here. The Gaza beach may offer temporary peace and relief, but only if you try to forget the bloodshed that took place in its waters. And only if you try not to dwell on the child, Huda Ghalia who in 2006 went to the beach with her family and came out of the water to find her father and other family members killed by an Israeli missile.
Other places where one would normally seek solace are green areas. In Gaza, they consist of limited areas crammed between houses and buildings with no horizon. When I think of it, the only horizon can be seen at the beach. Landscapes which can relieve my vision with their expansiveness don’t exist here.
Boundaries cage us on a tiny piece of land. We’re imprisoned through land and sea; fences, walls and Israeli occupation navy.
Pressure Cooker Life
What drains my mind even more is knowing that my country Palestine is replete with magnificent landscapes that I’m deprived of visiting. Lush green mountains, lakes and valleys. Ancient mosques, churches and monuments that attest to our civilization. Everything on the ground speaks Palestinian and is for us to reclaim.
While living in a pressure cooker of a life here, we’re also deprived of the God-given bounty of nature which people around the world take for granted. To listen to the musical burble of waterfalls and the gurgling of rivers. The absolute silence at night with only stars flickering above. No humming drone to disturb us, or remind us of the recurring attacks. Being exposed to a diversity of fauna and flora. But instead, it’s the same birds and plants wherever we go. Nothing exotic to stimulate the mind or uplift the soul.
Suffocation upon suffocation is the cost of living under siege and occupation.
Bounties of Gaza
The olive trees, the palm trees, and the fig trees make up my Palestinian heritage. The olive trees are entrenched deep down into the soil that’s mixed with the martyrs’ blood. They continue to gift us their oily gems as we sway their branches. The summer figs that burst in my mouth. The grapes and the dates are all tastes that keep our nostalgia for freedom burning within. They too are categorized as being survivors of oppression and have always been a target of the Israeli oppressor through burning, bulldozing and spraying with chemicals. But they remain timeless; standing tall urging us to persevere.
People who want to enjoy nature and breath freedom find themselves having to travel or emigrate. A minority of people here have the financial resources to travel every year for recreation. When they come back, they speak of places that are heaven on earth.
I guess counting the blessings of my land has comforted my stifled soul somehow. I’ll keep holding on to those bounties as I stick to the path of liberation.