Messages from Gaza Now October 2023 – Another Day

Hossam Madhoun in Gaza

Another day

Hossam in Gaza

Like any other day, I went to the market. It is no longer the market I know, more than half of the stores, the buildings on both sides of the street, were destroyed and damaged. The street is very black, full of dust and rubble, broken glass, bits of doors and windows, electricity and phone cables spread out along the road, fallen from the poles. Dirty water mixed with sewage, as the infrastructure was hit and many underground pipes were damaged. Piles of garbage everywhere, no garbage collection, no municipal staff to repair the damaged water and sewage pipes.

Passing by the bakery, no-one is waiting in line, people are in one big crowd shouting at each other, fighting over the line order. Some men and women are fighting, beating each other with their hands, other people try to calm down the crowd with no success, the bakery owner closes the bakery door. It’s made people even more angry.

Passing by a school, another fight and more shouting, people have lost their tempers, people get angry for any small reason, or even for no reason. Who can blame them? No water, no food, no bathrooms, no privacy, no dignity, no hope. Just despair and fear.

Continued walking down toward Salahaddeen Street, with no purpose.

Some men were carrying bread flour bags of 35 kilos each, I asked one of them where he had bought his from.

‘There is a flour mill on street 20’

‘Can I still find some there? Or maybe it’s finished?’

‘I believe you can find some’.  

Here I am now, walking with a purpose. For the last 3 days we have no cooking gas, we have started to cook our food and bread on a fire.

Remembered a colleague living on street 20, I call him saying that I am nearby. He tells me to continue on to his place and that he will catch up with me in 15 minutes, as he is now in the supermarket.

Passed by the mill and bought the bread flour. I carried it approximately 70 metres to his home. His father, who knows me, was very kind, he was very welcoming and provided me with coffee and biscuits. He brought out some plastic chairs and we sat in front of his home. We chatted, mainly about the war, and the struggle people have to secure the minimum basic needs. We talked about the people we both know who have been killed, or injured, or have lost a sibling or a home.

15 minutes later, when my colleague arrived, he looked terrified, full of dust and sand. He had just left the supermarket when it was bombed by an Israeli airstrike. He survived but he saw many people around him that were dead or injured. He could not stop, fearing another bombing could take place. It’s happened many times before, people running toward injured people to help and there is another strike at the same spot killing and injuring more people.

15 minutes until he was calm again and able to speak and breathe normally. I felt I must leave. I asked them if I could leave the bread flour at their place until I find a way to bring it to my father-in-law’s home. The distance is more than 3 kilometres; I don’t believe I can do it carrying 35 kilos.

Abeer and her sister were waiting for me at the home of her cousin, who is living in the middle of the camp near the main market. She had just finished her work at the shelter-school, she’d changed the dirty bandages of injured people, she’d helped a mother giving birth and distributed some assistive devices. Her cousin is hosting two displaced families of friends and colleagues from his work at the Gaza power plant. As I arrived at his home, there was shouting and screaming. The two families were fighting inside over a clash between their children.

Abeer and her sister came out and we walked home.

Arriving home, my mother had been calling for me many times. She wanted to go to the bathroom. No-one there could carry her from bed to bathroom. She could not hold it in, she did it in the bed. I was very frustrated. I took her to the bathroom, cleaned her with cold water. She cursed me, she shouted at me, she did not know that warm water is a luxury we can’t provide now. I was really angry but held myself and did not react. I finished washing her, put on her clean clothes, brought her to bed, brought her some food and gave her her medication. Back to the bathroom, washing her clothes, no electricity, no washing machine, so washing by hand in a plastic jerry can. Filling water from the barrel on the first floor, bringing it up to the second floor several times. 

While sitting on the ground washing her clothes trying to control my anger and frustration, I remembered my childhood. There was no electricity in town when I was a child, for sure there were no washing machines. We were 5 brothers and 4 sisters and my father and my mother.

My mother at that time was doing all the washing for all the family, not only the washing, the cooking, the cleaning, the hugging and much more. I felt so bad, but not angry anymore, not frustrated anymore. Just exhausted.

I washed my body and my clothes and hung them on the laundry rope. Lunch was ready, we all ate downstairs. I went up to my room.

By the way, today in the market I bought some headphones to use with my mobile so I could listen to the radio app. Radios don’t work for mobiles without headphones attached. I did not know that.

Laying on my mattress, I attached the headphones and opened the radio app. Moving from channel to channel, it is all news about the war, counting the dead and injured, political analysts speaking with the deep voices of well-informed people, reporters shouting to make sure they are heard. I don’t need this. Moving to other channels, and suddenly…music. I know this channel. it is a radio channel broadcasting classical music, only music and only classical. It was Mozart’s Symphony No.15, followed by another symphony led by Yuri Torchinsky. I lay down, closed my eyes and fell asleep. It was some well-deserved shut-eye.