Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I saw

Walking through the long passage that takes you into Gaza, I saw a man on a walker. Next to him walked another, completely helpless as his companion moved forward at a snails pace.

Driving into Gaza I saw garbage piled up by the sides of the streets, often spilling over into it. The municipality’s garbage collectors have been on strike for nearly a week now. I don’t know for how long they have not been paid again. One large pile Jamal and I drove by was lit on fire and clouds of choking smoke filled the air there. We closed the windows and opened them again once we had passed.

We drove to the Al-Ahli hospital, downtown Gaza City, where the administration was tense and scared about the situation in Gaza. A few days ago a bookstore across the street and two internet cafes elsewhere were bombed. The blast blew out all the windows in one of the hospital buildings. I crossed the street to see the bombed shop, which the staff was repairing yet once again. The bookshop experienced a similar blast less than a year ago. I saw a friend of mine, a painter, with a smile, painting the metal door, inside a burnt smell filled the air and sadness filled the eyes of those within.

Back on the street I saw a boy searching through garbage on the side of the street. Jamal got a flat tire and we stopped by a mechanic. The only person inside was a boy, I thought he was 8, Jamal thought 13. He put a jack under the car and took some time to fix the punctured tire. As we drove off Jamal pointed out the obvious, “it is wrong for a boy at this age to be working like that.”

By chance, over lunch, I met the brother of the man who was leaving Gaza with the walker. He had been caught in inter-factional fighting and shot seven times all along one leg.

How one endures this, I don’t know.