By Najwa Sheikh
In Gaza there is another taste of deprivation, poverty, and pain. A taste that no one can know except those who lived it and witnessed its harshness. A taste they know through the memories and the stories they kept in their mind about the cruelty of their days.
Hunger has another taste in Gaza, where you can not feed your children, even with the simplest things, with only bread. Where your kids have only to look to pictures, and smell food without being able to taste, where your children can not recognize the taste of meat because they did not have it for almost a year and may be more.
Hunger in Gaza means that you have to go to the market only to pick up the unsold vegetables, the leftover or damaged ones. It means that you can only feed your children if they are lucky enough with potato or dry beans for breakfast, dinner and for lunch. Hunger means that you will wonder if you would be able to find something to feed your children tomorrow in a time that no one should be starving.
Sickness, a totally different story in Gaza, which has a taste that is long, endless but slow. It is the journey of waiting the angel of death to have mercy on you and put an end to your miserable life. Through this journey, you have to be armed with patience to endure your pain, bitterness, and loneliness. However, if you are lucky enough, then you will be able to find a tablet of Acamol to relief your pain. But if you are suffering form a dangerous disease, then you have to try your luck, to find a treatment outside Gaza, and that of course need a great courage to take the risk. However, if the Israeli soldier manning the checkpoint and has all the right to deny you access was in a bad mood then you will have to wait for hours, days or even months, you have to try again and a gain until either you or the soldier will give up. Some die during the long, arduous wait.
In Gaza you are not allowed to fall sick, because hospitals can not afford you treatment, or equipment to diagnose your illness, or even your need of a surgical interference.
Still, this is not the end of your story, if you managed to leave Gaza for treatment, and you have paid all of your savings to recover with one hope that you will be able to come back to your home, and to spend the rest of your life with those you love, then I am sorry to tell you that the road to your goal is still long, and tiring. The images of your beloved ones are still only images, and the long life you are planning for is still uncertainty. The gate guardians are stubborn enough that they can steal any moment of happiness that you managed to find stealthily, then again you have to wait endless hours, days, and may be months to be allowed to enter Gaza.
In Gaza you are not allowed to dream, you are not allowed to be human, and to be treated as human being, you can not dream of having a normal, peaceful life, because you are targeted from your enemy. Your dreams will be assassinated before they are completed or even born. You can not put long term plans, simply because you are not certain whether you will have a long life to fulfill your plans or not. Then why bother your self and consume your brain. In Gaza you can not work hard and study hard to gain high marks so you can choose the university where you want to continue your study.
In Gaza you are denied so much; you can not say what you want, you can not be the person you are created to be.
In Gaza there are no seasons, no winter, no spring, nothing but the smell of death and images of bitterness, and sadness…
In Gaza there are no words or meanings to describe the life we live, simply because sometimes saying nothing is more meaningful than saying anything.
-Najwa Sheikh is a Palestinian refugee from al-Majdal located just north of the Gaza Strip. Shiekh has lived in refugee camps in Gaza her entire life where she is married and has three children. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com