Back In 2003, my eldest brother Tawfiq travelled to Jordan to study “Biomedical Engineering” there. He came to visit us in Gaza two times ever since. The first, I don’t remember when while the second was in 2006 for my sister’s wedding. After that he never came to Gaza until a week ago.
The time between 2008-2011, each time we would call him we would ask him the very same old question about visiting us again, and he would reply with the very same old ready answer,
“-Hey, why don’t you come to Gaza this summer?
“- I would really love to, but you know “borders.””
“- Don’t tell me borders I hear it’s open, come to Gaza we miss you”
“- I wish, but I have a job now and I can’t jeopardize being stuck there. One day it’s open the next it’s closed until further notice”
by the time, questions became a little shorter..
“wanna come to Gaza?”
Until we barely even used words
In the 18th of January 2011, my father had a business trip to Dubai where Tawfiq works. He went there along with my mother and my other older brother (Amer). They spent two month with him. Now it was my sister, little brother and I who has not seen him ever since 2006. This long time created some sort of a gap between us; we didn’t know what his character is like, what his likes and dislikes are or what his favorite foods or drinks are even. Little did we know about him. I remember whenever we would Skype my parents at the time they were with him I used to wait for the time Amer would be alone to ask him about my brother and his character!
A week ago, the 23rd of August 2011, Tawfiq surprised us all and came to Gaza without telling anyone that he was planning on coming. We had been begging him a lot lately to come, but the borders were not helping and his job was not helping either.
The day he surprised us and just showed up out of nowhere, we were inviting my sister and her husband for Iftar meal, it was 4:00 something pm when I was carrying my sister’s 10 month old daughter “Sarah”, taking her to my room to change her diapers, when I heard my sister shouting on the phone “whaaaaat, are you kidding me? Really? You are down HERE! NOOO! Seriously? MOMMM TAWFIQ IS HERE!” I found myself spontaneously putting the little girl on the ground, changed my dirty full of baby vomit and food clothes, and within a second my sister and I were downstairs. Mouth widely smiling, heart violently racing, and hands unstoppably trembling.
As soon as my brother appeared I found myself frozen where I stood flooding with happy tears. Actually, I was REALLY crying! It was like my face was leaking water! My sister, on the other hand, jumped right past me and hugged him as tight as she could. And when I restored the function of my legs I walked slowly towards him covering my mouth with my hands still crying. We hugged and then he said to me enthusiastically with a smile on his face “aww why, why?” and I replied in the most awkward voice a person could produce while crying “I missed you.”
And now here I am.. it has been exactly a week since my brother showed up and I’m still figuring out his character, sometimes by asking him, other times by observing what he does.
Thank you occupation for the sweet non-memories I have with my brother, thank you for the “I don’t know” I keep answering people when they ask me about my brother, thank you for the fact that whenever I call my sister part of the call would be “do you know that tawfiq…”
2 of the things my brother got me from Dubai, Malcolm X and a little book holder
PS. Happy Eid 🙂