Just another day in paradise
You better duck when that awful sound goes
Thats what's happenin in the parking lot
Thats whats happenin on stage
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, that awful sound
Roots and Nancy Sinatra; what better way to describe another day in paradise…er, Gaza. I heard that phrase a lot, paradise. Of people describing their homes; their gardens; their razed orchards. They don’t see the war and the destruction and the lawlessness and all of the ugliness of occupation and anarchy.
They see beauty.
Living here is always surreal, to it mildly. But you learn to compartmentalize and move on with your life. Internalize, adapt and survive. Sometimes, for a moment, I try and detach this adapted self from my body, to re-gain perspective.
Yesterday, as I was having mint tea and date cookies at my cousin’s house, who is here visiting from the UK where her husband is completing his pHD (her daughter is the the “cutie” pictured behind Yousuf below). Her father-in-law, a fiery little man of 80 something years, was debating with his son, something about the differences of the Palestinian educational system “then and now”, as Yousuf sat trying to compete for Dalia’s (my cousin’s daughter) attention, playing with her dolls and baby stroller (yes, my son is in touch with his feminine side).
And swirling all around us, as entertainment for the evening, was a “symphony” of war, as people like to describe it here. The distinct double-boom of tank artillery shells, *BOOM boom*, every few seconds, along with the single explosions of what I would later learn were navy-gunship attacks, interdispersed with rapid machine-gun fire, a swarm of drones whirring incessantly overhead, and Apache helicopters attacking areas in northern and easern Gaza.
My cousin told her daughter they were just fireworks and not to be alarmed, so she too (four-years-old), casually ignored them.
The shelling ceased for a while after that, until around 3am where we were literally shocked awake by a tremendous explosion. Just two streets down from us- an F-16 warplane had dropped bomb on a playing field (that was the site of a large celebration attended by over 100, 000 Palestinians, including Ismail Haniya, and members of different factions commemorating Land Day), something that has not happened in a while because of the disproportionalality and potential causalities inflicted in using such weaponry against a densely populated city and its civilian population.
The field was empty, but the explosion left a tremendous crater and its sheer force scared us senseless. At first we though it might be a sonic boom, but it did not have the distinct after-echo that accompanies that. This explosion was so loud I thought I might find the street in front of me taken out; that or doomsday was upon us. Sometimes I think when it comes I might not know the difference. We weren’t sure what was happening, and because of the drones overhead, all the television satellite signals were scrambled, so we panicked and held hands in bed until it passed.
It’s quiet again this morning. The sun it out. Yousuf is taking his nap. Beit Lahiya wild berries are in season. Bees are pollinating with spring’s explosion of color and fertility. And somewhere of Gaza’s besieged coast, a fisherman is lamenting his luck at sea.
It’s just another day in paradise