Life in Gaza
“Did I ever tell you that I am not from here?” my young Palestinian friend asked me one day.
“Yes,” I reminded him. “You told me that.”
It seems my friend spent the first twelve years of his life in Abu Dhabi. Now he has spent the next twelve in Gaza.
“Why would you move to such a place?” I naturally asked.
He laughed as he gave his response. “It was not my idea. My father wanted to return here.”
His father is a Palestinian from Gaza. He wanted to return to his homeland. It is a common emotion. Many people wish to return to their homeland after they move away. There remains a certain yearning to be in the land of your ancestry. This is part of the emotional conflict that resides in many people of the divided lands of Palestine. In fact, it is one of the reasons for war.
Apparently they did not return to Gaza expecting a better life. I do not know what they had in the United Arab Emirates, but it certainly had to be better than being in a land that is sometimes torn by violence or even all out war as it is now. For one wishing to go home, perhaps the threat of future war does not dissuade you from returning.
Indeed Jews and Palestinians have risked their lives to stake out a home in what is mostly a hostile climate and, of course, frequently a hostile environment. Finding peace among neighbors who question why you are on a particular parcel of land can be a tough life.
My friend knows of the harsh realities that Gaza presents to its citizens, mostly refugees, but he also knows first hand a life somewhere that is not as cruel as life can be along the Sinai desert on a small strip of land. Like many others, he also sees what life is like in other parts of the world. The internet provides the opportunity to travel to other lands, meet other people and learn new things. For some, the knowledge that rides on the waves of cyberspace also calls out to students and citizens who seek freedom. It is the siren call that some long to answer.
My friend knew that his family would be unhappy when he left Gaza one day. He told me he desired to return to school, to be a student of languages, to have a job that would go along with his language skills. Although he was not certain where in the world he could end up, but Gaza did not seem to hold a future. It is devoid of culture that can be found in other cities.
“Who would build anything here when it might get blown up some day?” This is a logical question. Why invest in anything of value when you do not know what the future would hold for such an investment? It could be lost in the flash of a rocket blast.
When I wrote of my friend in the story that first appeared here on Sunday, I mentioned that I had not heard anything since Friday morning when he wished me a good day as I headed off to work. I don’t know where he was headed in the overcrowded and dangerous strip of land.
During Friday he “liked” my facebook status, “pray for peace.” I have tried to contact him without success so far. I can imagine that power must be knocked out to large areas of Gaza City and the internet may be unavailable. I await go news and still pray for peace.