What I told my friends, Hossam and Jamal, Co-Directors of Theatre for Everybody in Gaza, after our last Skype exchange:
”Whenever we speak on Skype I always have the feeling that there is something I haven’t said. Some crucial piece of information or point of discussion has been missed. It’s a very strange feeling. Maybe it is a deep feeling of how we are subject to forces that are beyond our control. Before we talk I always have this sense of urgency. I think to myself: I must talk to Hossam and Jamal and clarify this point and organise this event or that event. I guess I want us to be effective and I’m worried about how organised we can be. But to talk is the most important thing. Keep talking. Keep making exchanges. Keep throwing up a little bit of light in these dark times. Are they so dark? Sometimes I become confused about what our lives consist in. Hamas, Fatah, the Qataris, the Turks, the Conservatives….We have to live in history as well as live in our houses. It scares me when one thing doesn’t relate to another. Here we have as little control as you do. I don’t know how to make sense of it sometimes and I am left with an overwhelming sense of pity’.
‘In 1992, I was in prison for 9 months for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and writing graffiti on walls against the occupation. On the 15th of each month there were family visits. It used to start at 10 am to 3 pm. Each prisoner had 30 minutes only. Every prisoner was preparing himself. We struggled to get showers, only 7 showers and 7 WC for 300 prisoners. Each prisoner reserved special clothes for this occasion and they prepared themselves as if it was their wedding. It was the most important day.
My family visited me only twice during the 9 months. They were poor and they were busy trying to secure their living. They just didn’t know, couldn’t know, the value of visiting me in prison. But these two times, it is not easy to explain, for me, they told me that I am still alive, that I am not left alone, that one day I would get out, that I would be free. These two visits enabled me to stand strong and tolerate the slow time passing.
Can I tell you, my friend, that when you call me, I have just the same feelings of the visit I was expecting from my family. I know that you are there for me, thinking about me and ready to support me when I feel despair, when I feel weak, when I feel like giving up. Thank you, my friend, for being part of my life.
By the way, in prison I met the theatre for the first time in my life, or theatre met me there, but this is another story.’