We sat at the window in a restaurant, which but for one table was deserted. The waves were crashing onto the shore beneath us, children were playing in the dim light nearby. We could see the lights of fishing boats through the darkness of the night, their lights, much like headlights of a car, moved quickly towards us. Rami looked around to ascertain the safety of the place, he claimed he had never been there, but it was not uncommon for him to lie to me. My friend was ruled by a combination of pride and fear, likely neither of which he would admit to.
Rami told me he had dreams, he dreamt during the day and he always remembered what he dreamt at night. During the night he dreamt the Israeli forces were coming to get him, he dreamt he had been killed in his home, he dreamt he had been arrested, he dreamt one of his relatives had disappeared, he dreamt. Then Rami proceeded to tell me that dreams were the events and thoughts of the day played out in reverse in one’s mind.
During the day he would explain he dreamt of peace and security, he dreamt of living a life independent of the tension and conflict he was surrounded by from all sides. Rami was a political man, and by most people’s definition, a militant. His brother was a Fateh spokesman and he himself was a party man. Gaza is divided not so much by social differences or by one’s status as a refugee or citizen, but by one’s political leanings. It seemed logical that a people occupied and ruled by outsiders for so long would look for some sort of solution. First the British, then the Egyptians and now Israel occupied this little strip of land. For some, their party affiliation determined how strictly they looked to religion for an answer. Whether Hamas did a good job of representing the faith for which it stood, is debated each and every day on the streets of Gaza, every Fathawi would tell you this is not the case and that Hamas used religion merely as a means to their political ends.
In the case of a larger internal political conflict between the two parties, Rami would surely be drawn into the midst of it. He didn’t want it; he didn’t seek or hope for civil war, who does? But he was a party man and he would stand by the decisions his leader, president Abu Mazen would make.
As we sat there, listening to the soothing whispers of the waves it felt like the calm before the storm. The period Gaza was about to go through would not be an easy passage. Not being able to agree on a unity government Abu Mazen was making statements that he would dismiss the current government and set up a new one without Hamas’s approval. While being a breach of even the weakest concept of a democratic process this would cause a civil war and Rami would be drawn into something he wanted no part of.
He so longed to leave this place and spend some time in Egypt away from it all, but he could not afford a trip, he claimed. Instead he had asked a friend to bring him a Eoud, a stringed oriental instrument. He had never played but hoped to learn quickly. Might music provide even a temporary escape from the world around him?
Everything in him seemed to scream for some peace.
If only replacing his guns with music for just that little while would bring him some rest.
*Rami's real name was not used