In Egypt, in Gaza – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – April 2024

20 April 2024

In Egypt, in Gaza 

In Egypt

Sleeping in a comfortable bed, the mobile alarm waking me up at 6:30 in the morning, taking Buddy for the morning walk, 20 minutes of calm and joyful walking. Back home, taking a hot shower, having the morning coffee, eating a light breakfast, putting on my outdoor clothes. On my way to the office, meeting smiling people, enjoying or annoyed by the street noise, arguing the taxi price, Fayrooz singing on the taxi radio, nice start of the day. Streets full of cars, people everywhere, normal people, walking, talking. Arrive at the office, welcome colleagues, have a break for lunch at 1:30 with a sandwich at a nearby cafeteria, back to the office, work, send emails, reply to emails, prepare plans for the next day.  

Going back home, hot day, the driver puts on the air conditioning, a song of Om Kalthoum on the radio, covering the street noise. Arriving home, Abeer and Salma are waiting for me, they spent the day in the mall, went to a movie and did some shopping therapy. They are smiling and relaxed. Having a warm shower, changing clothes, putting on soft clothes, lying down on the sofa, putting on the TV, not watching anything in particular, just having the TV on, moving lazily between channels. Abeer and Salma calling me for lunch, big meal, salads and main dish with meat and rice, eating and chatting, cleaning the dishes.  Make some coffee, sit on the terrace, smoking and listening to some music. Abeer is on her laptop following up some of her work, Salma in her room studying for her master’s degree, and I pet and tap on the back of my dog, Buddy.   

In Gaza   

Sleeping on a very hard, uncomfortable mattress, waking up at 22h00 to the sound of bombing, trying to sleep again. Waking us at 12:30 am, a drone is very close with its harmful sound. Trying to sleep again, waking up due to backache, trying to sleep, waking up to my bedridden mother calling to move her body to another side, trying to sleep. An air strike nearby wakes me up again, trying to sleep, the dawn prayer calling in the mosque prevents me from sleeping. It is 4:50 am, trying to sleep, my mother calls again. Still trying to sleep… gave up sleeping, going out with Buddy for a walk, no joy, not comfortable, obliged to fight my inner fear and anxiety. Back home in 7 – 8 minutes. No shower, no clothes to change, no breakfast, just eat whatever is available. 

I put on my shoes, go to the office, no regular taxis, walking 20 minutes to get there. People in the streets are walking silently, heads down and faces unshaven, like me. Shoeless children. During the night new homes were damaged. On my way to the office, it is quiet, no noise but the sound of the drones in the sky, until I arrive at the market. There, there is loud noise, huge crowds, thousands of salesmen and children selling food and aid items. Arriving at the office, I open my laptop and wait for emails to download. It takes time, the internet is very weak. I look at the emails, have no desire to work, ignoring many of them, responding to the most urgent emails only. I feel sick, uncomfortable, leave the office, go down to the market with no purpose, walking, looking at the people around me, trying to find one face with a smile, even a fake smile; there are none.

Buying whatever is available of food for lunch, back to the office, not making any effort to see if there are any new emails, close my laptop, say goodbye, leave the office, go back home. Out of the market area, away from the noise, in the street going home, there are no sounds any more but the sound of the drone, as if it is following me, in fact it does; it follows each and every one in Gaza, everyone feels the same. 

Arriving home, doing nothing, waiting for the time to pass until sunset, taking Buddy for the evening walk, and again, no joy, not comfortable, back home in 5 minutes. Dark falls and all fear of darkness fills my heart and my head. Trying to sleep, dreaming of sleep. Can’t sleep.