Summer in Gaza

By Najwa Sheikh

In Gaza every thing is the contrary of how it should be, with the summer hot days becoming so close, I found myself unable to cope with the idea of not going to the beach with my kids to have some fun playing with the cold fresh water of the sea, and enjoy the smell of a clean air.

I can not cope with the idea of not being able to fill the path tube with water for my kids so they can spend time and refreshing themselves away from the burning heat of a summer day.

I also can not cope with the idea of post bonding all the house work, laundry, washing the dishes, and having a shower after a long exhausting working day.

But in Gaza you have to make choices of what you could have and do, and of what you do not have and can not do, choices that are not yours but forced to make due to the circumstances surrounded you.

The days in summer are very long, hot and burning, longer than the joy that the children of Gaza should have during their vacation. Poor they, trapped between the long bored days passing so slowly but eating their summer, and between the harshness of their life in Gaza.

Poor they, as they can not plan for their vacation, to have fun, and to enjoy their summer, they have either to spend the whole day under the burning sun of the summer trying to sell some chewing gum in an attempt to help their families under the hard economical situation that the people of Gaza are having, or playing with friends on the dusty streets.

The only place that these children are looking for it with anxiety is the sea beach where for while they can forget their hard life, and steal some childish moments of their own. However, with frequent reports about pumping untreated sewage inside the sea water, and the increase of catching serious diseases; the children of Gaza lost this option for having fun, however, many families are still going to the beach despite all the warnings, not out of ignorance but out of desperation.

I still remember the words of my mother of how lucky we were commenting on my sisters complaints on the house work and that we do not have to walk for few kilometers to fill the pockets with water and hold it back home for many times. However, recalling these words bring, pity but not jealousy, as we don’t have the clean, sweet water that my mother used to have.

In Gaza there are areas where people are suffering from the lack of water, where they can have water for two to three hours per day, and sometimes they have to stay awake all night so they can monitor the exact time of having water to be able to fill in the tanks and enjoy a shower in the morning.

Some families used to put pockets in winter so it can be filled with the rain water to compensate the lack of water, and some if not the majority have to buy drinking, treated water to enjoy the taste of a clean cup of water. 

It is a fact that we are living on the 21st century, but comparing with the privileges we have in Gaza I have to say that we are years far away form the modern life of this century. When you find yourself unable to use and to have water all day, when you find yourself unable to enjoy a clean glass of water, and force yourself to drink it despite of its smell and color, When your son come back home from school very thirsty because there is no access to clean water in his school, and when you feel afraid form going to the beach due to the high percentage of pollution due to the sewage dumped in the sea, then you have to realize that you are in Gaza.

Our life in Gaza is very difficult, the occupation, the siege, the internal disputes that divided my society, and finally the lack of basics in our lives such as water, medication, freedom of movement, these basics should not be questioned, and we all should enjoy having them, but all the fact on reality say that we are not yet on the 21st century.

-Najwa Sheikh lives in Gaza. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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