Meanwhile, in Palestine
We went berry picking the other day, scavenging to find what little tart blueberries remained on the thinning bushes during the season’s departure. “Toot azra2” my nephew calls them. Nearby, we noticed a crop of Muscadine grapes, the first time I had ever tried this particular variety.
Homesickness getting the best of us, my mother-who came to visit when I did and is now stuck, along with my father, here with us-decided to ask if we can pick the leaves to make waraq inab. So we did, nostalgicaly, remembering our little farm in central Gaza’s Zawayda village, now bursting with unpicked, past their prime, plump sea-side grapes.
And later at home, we boiled them, and boiled some more. Only to realize this particular variety was too fibrous for our mahshi. Durham is no Gaza, I suppose. And Muscadine grapes are not Sheikh Ijleen’s.
Saddened, we stopped wrapping, and called home. Our cousin gives us the latest: the electricity comes on, still a couple of hours a day; but when it does, the Municipality water does not; when the water does flow, about once every 3-4 days, there is usually no electricity to pump it to top floor apartments in Gaza’s plethora of high-rise towers.
So most residents have opted to rent lower level housing or move. And people can no longer use their water filters, so those who can afford it are opting for bottled water, or drinking water sold by the gallon for a shekel, where the overwhelming majority of people survive-in the most "ordinary" or times, on under 9 shekels a day.
Later we make Apricot jam and my mother tells me of the refugee family in Khan Yunis in 1948 whose daughter died because she ate bitter apricot seeds prematurely, which were soaking in water to become sweet.
And we learn that in July, the Israeli military killed 163 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and "summer rain" continues. But the headlines here read tell us that that the days are "tragic" for Israel. Tragedy had different meaning for us; children are not children; mother's tears are no tears at all; we are less human.
On the Lebanese front, Yassine’s sister moved with her children and husband from Sur (Tyre), which has been heavily bombed in recent days, to Sayda (Sidon). She is taking shelter in a place that has no doors or windows with 40 other people.
So we drift, from one news report to the next, from one phonecall to the next…from one story to the next, and nothing quite makes sense anymore; Unaligned and displaced, we carry on with our lives, not knowing quite what to do with ourselves, until Yousuf invetibaly asks me, distressed, “mama, aish fee?”
“Mama za3lana, habibi”
“Ana wawa habibi”
“Tayib roo7i 3al duktor!”
If only this wawa had such a simple remedy.