They say when it rains it pours. I guess that idiom sums up my article today, because in the past couple of weeks Gaza had the privilege of setting this idiom on motion.
It all began with a beautiful sunny Sunday morning May 6th the first day of the “Palestine Festival of Literature 2012.” A group of remarkable Arab and Palestinian writers came to Gaza carrying nothing but sheer excitement of entering Gaza for the first time in their lives, books and a desire to symbolically break the siege. The PalFest events and workshops took place from May 6th up to May 9th. I attended most of the events, and I can now say that the 6th, 7th and 8th of May were the best days of my life, so far. Meeting all these writers and Egyptian activists was overwhelming. They felt very close. I felt like I’ve seen them before and that I knew them already.
Specially Dr. Ahdaf Soueif I don’t think I will ever meet a woman as beautiful, as calm, as wise, as sweet, as kind, as loving as her. There is something about her that makes you just love her. Selma Dabbagh who is a British Palestinian writer the one with the “meticulous” handwriting -as she described it when she wrote me an autograph- the minute I spoke with her I felt like she was a friend of mine, the way she talks is so casual that you can’t help but feel like she’s your friend.
As for the wisely impulsive, dynamic, energetic and out-spoken-never-mind-the-consequences person of all -that would be Alaa Abd El Fattah, (an Egyptian blogger and activist) He always spoke with such passion that made you just want to get up shout out and go make a revolution (believe me I thought about it). His energy is infectious and he consumes your thoughts.
Another person that I will never forget is, Amr Ezzat who is also an Egyptian blogger and activist. He was the philosophical, candid and astute guy of the group. He’s the kind of guy that knows what to say and when, seriously, the guy knows when and how to hit!
And who can forget Eskenderella band! They gave us something different to the usual -Something we rarely experience here in Gaza. They gave us a true Egyptian “Tarab.” Their concert was the concert to remember. Perfect.
PalFest would have been the best thing that ever happened to Gaza for years now if not for what happened in the last day. A misfortune I would call it. Regardless, I think I would be speaking for all when I say that their very existence in Gaza and the fact that they even thought of making the festival in Gaza this year meant a lot to us. It got us out of the solitary confinement that we were living in, the feeling that we are isolated and we never get to be mentioned but in bad-NEWS-channels. They left a mark on each and every one of us I will never forget them and I will never forget the beautiful days I spent with them. I was deeply sad the day they left and I just can’t wait for the day they decide to come back for a visit again. Now we are back on the island of isolation, again!
After the incident that happened in the last day of the festival, it was downhill from there on. Because then the condition of 8 of the Palestinian prisoners who were on a hunger strike defying the inhumane treatment they are being treated within Israeli prisons intensified. Two of them were believed to be close to death, and the rest were in a critical condition. But now the situation is a little bit alleviated and they did get some of their rights, which is not even close to enough. Freedom is “the enough” we need. A hint of justice is never enough.
And then, the 15th of May the day that commemorates Nakba or “Day of the Catastrophe.” The catastrophe that befell us Palestinians in 1948. On this day, thousands of Palestinians organized demonstrations in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and they all resulted in clashes with Israeli troops and police who fired tear gas, metal pellets and rubber bullets at the protesters in an attempt to break up the demonstrations.
My “Translation 101” teacher once translated “when it rains it pours to us” as..
Lamma ttayyen bt.tayyen “لما تطين بتطين”
Which basically means when things go wrong, a lot of things go wrong at the same time. I could have never come up with a better translation or even a better description for all this.
ps. You can follow the hastags #PalHunger #PalFestGaza and #Nakba for more information.