A Thirsty Flinstone in Palestine
Years ago, when me and my brothers and sisters were little, we loved sitting by our mother’s side in the cold winters’ rainy nights to be warmed by stories of her childhood and neighborhood in the refugee camp. It was through my mother nostalgic stories that the idea of underprivileged people existed and started to explore in the spongy heads of a bunch of kids. The picture of our grandmother that we never got the chance to know holding a big jar on her exhausted head and walking all the way to the water pump that some aid agency operated in the camp few hours a week for the Palestinian refugees is painted in my head out of an abstract description. Through the rivalry rushes amongst the old and young women to fill their jars with as much water as possible before the ticking clock announces switching off the water pumping. Those who were not fortunate enough to fill adequate amounts appealed to the dogwatch for extra few minutes.
Mama took over her old mother’s position and walked dancingly on her skinny hopping feet all the way to the pump trying to balance her twisting baby-body to provide the water when the mother herself joined all the other old ladies of the refugee camp on some Israeli bus to earn a living in the Israeli fields, and gaining out all their energy in planting and cutting off the weeds. If they were lucky, my mom told us, they would get back home with few vegetables to cook and eat together with the starving mouths waiting for them. It was a daily conflict in the camp. A conflict of providing the essential supplies of life. A guarantee of waking up the next day. A Stone Age, mother always said, while people all around the world are promoting and developing, they refugees merely regressed back in time. Had she ever skilled us with anything with her drowsy eyes, she taught us how to weep silently with eyes filled with tears falling as heavy as the crazy rain outdoors.
Now we are living in a village, a situation that is supposed to be better on the surface. But the bitter fact is that we Palestinians are doomed to suffer wherever we are. It has been more than two weeks now in our village and we have absolutely not a single drop of water. Similarly, we the western villages of Ramallah, not geographically but rather conditionally, are living in the same Gazan water-shortage conditions. The only difference is that no light is being shed on our degrading situation, not even by the thirsty victims. We are, as mother said, merely regressing into the Stone Age. We have become our childhood cartoon’s hero; Flinstone.
Fourteen days have elapsed and we are waterless… Lifeless. We together with the surrounding villages share the water-spring with one of the Israeli settlements in the region, but never on equal basis of course. While they get it always running and filtered, we on the other hand receive what’s left to run in our rusty pumps. If they happen to run out of tricks, they just cut off our water sources.
Early today I left our silent house and the sleeping walls at six thirty to find my mother outside holding a container on her head. I was stunned by the view, and asked her what she was up to. “I have been waiting by the water tap for the last hour, and it’s been dropping poorly, but I managed to fill up some water for the family.” I walked away from her, and the portrayal of her childhood in the refugee camp popped up in my head all over again after years. I just took few steps away filled with ambiguous emotions, and just wept silently.