Friday, April 18, 2008

Waiting for the rainfall

I have a small garden behind the townhouse I rent. Nothing terribly impressive. In fact the soil is so acidic that it is inhospitable to most plants. Its mainly red clay, not unlike Gaza. Good for cucumbers and the like. But mainly, just mint grows in my garden. Lots and lots of mint, interspersed with some thyme.

And a small Loquat tree.

Last year, my sister in law's Syrian father gave me the Loquat sapling from a larger tree that he smuggled in from Syria more than twenty years ago as a seedling and transplanted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Now, two decades on, I transplanted it in this small, acidic mint garden of mine.

The insects ate of the leaves what the tired soil did not. But it is spring, and somehow , new life has been breathed into it. new leaves are coming out. It has survived.

But today, as North Carolina faces a continued drought, I contemplated for a moment whether I should even be watering this sad little garden of mine. Or the brave little Loquat tree.

My mind travels. In Gaza, due to the Israeli imposed power shortages, nearly 20% of Palestinians there receive water sparingly, for only 3 to 5 hours every four days.

The fuel shortages have cut the energy supply by 31%, and have caused the suspension of garbage collection in Gaza City for the past two weeks.

And last week, 21 more dead. Five children, a farmer, a young cameraman, hit by a Flechette shells ...but who cares.

I decide not to water my the mint; or the Loquat. They can make do with the occasional rainfall.

Last week my parents left to Egypt to try and return to Gaza. They were stuck here for 9 months. They grew tired. So they figured they'd change pace, and grow tired somewhere else; And wait; and wait some more, for the border to open, So they can return home;as if borders open on their own.

And if after a month of waiting, or maybe two, there is no hope in waiting, they will return here to wait again.

And contemplate the ethical dilemmas of watering a mint garden during a drought.


Anonymous Sami said...

were do you get the mint you grow? I buy a handful of mint leaves from Walmart for $3.5. May be you can consider mailing me some mint for the tea :) ...

5:23 AM  
Blogger Bint Battuta said...

I think you should water your garden. I understand your ethical dilemmas but I think that if something is trying to be alive and green, and it is possible for it to be, that it should be encouraged.

10:57 PM  
Blogger heba said...

Laila your post brought tears to my eyes instantly ..The waiting game is on and on ..and though living inside Gaza is sooo difficult, sometimes we do not know any better ...I wish for your garden what I wish for my cactus survive where survival is rare ...! Heba

9:56 AM  
Blogger that chick said...

laila - use greywater to sustain the life in your little garned. used bathwater and dishwater take nothing from the water supply, and your garden can live. i'm sure it's what the people in gaza are doing to preserve their plants. your plants don't need to die in solidarity with the people of your homeland.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

I was very touched by your story of the need for water in your garden and the lack of water (and so much else) in Gaza - especially the ending and its significance.
I regularly check out your latest blog - keep up the good work. You provide a very human side to the Palestinian situation.

9:00 PM  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

there are those who care.
I have a little Loquat tree growing along the building in which I have my bookstore. It is from a seed given me some years ago, and grows next to a peach tree (from a pit) and some roses from cuttings.
Especially when the world is harsh, when children suffer, we need to tend the tiny bits of beauty and continuity in our lives.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi laila....your peoples problems will never be solved by the teaching of haterd to your children...constant invectives...and of course the rocketing and attacks on israel...what can you expect but violence and pressures back on about a uni-lateral ceasefire...on your part...and then see what happens...maybe then your parents can get it is why cant the egyptians be more co-operative with the crossings....they allow guns and weapons ..why not your any case i hope your plants bloom soon ....and the kids do well

8:02 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Thank you for all the comments. I especially love this one, its so true:

"Especially when the world is harsh, when children suffer, we need to tend the tiny bits of beauty and continuity in our lives"

I am happy to say we received much rain this week, so I did not need to waste extra water.

I use greywater to clean my toilets (after I bathe my kids)

Heba: maybe this is how people survive; by clinging to some sense of constancy and continuity. Maybe this is why every Palestinian has to grow something green; whether a house plant or a fig tree.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous falastini said...

We are fed up of talks. I have been deafened with slogans and zealous speeches. I have been sickened of being shown what others are doing and we are sitting helplessly or wasting our energy on trivial issues. For all pro Palestinians, enough talk. Let your ACTIONS be louder than your words. Be pro active. Let the world hear you. We will never forget. Let the world know that the Palestinians are the Key holders of Peace. The convening of a Palestinian American National conference that is inclusive of every Palestinian living in America is long overdue. We are coming together as American Palestinians along with out friends and supporters
to commemorate the 60th anniversary of
Al-Nakba (forced eviction of our people from
our ancient homeland).
Here how you can get involved:
click on this url

7:59 PM  
Blogger JohnB said...

Salaam, Laila.

But perhaps what you and Heba and many other Palestinians are growing best is the understanding we have of the essential humanity of the Palestinians. It is a humanity that we all share, even if some choose not to recognize it.

Thank you for letting us take a peek at the plants that you are growing...

InshAllah one day we can cross each other's borders freely.


1:55 AM  
Blogger Halla said...

while Gaza starves, the world watches! pretty sad!

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Laila

What your soil needs is LOTS of compost.

You could ask neighbours for grass clippings. Spread them around your tree - leaving about two inches of clear dirt around its trunk so disease cannot start.

As it breaks down it will help the soil to hold more moisture.

If no one has clippings to spare you might consider having a 'worm farm' where you can put in your veggie scraps and special compost worms turn them into compost and a liquid manure that you can dilute before feeding your plants.

Many kids enjoy seeing the worm farm at work - and come to have respect for the vital organisms.

Even the really thrifty washing machines use about thirty litres of water for rinsing. That could be ten for sluicing the loo and twenty for the plants - and little kids love serving the plants with jugfuls of water... :-D.

Feeding the soil is one of those incremental things. It looks like nothing is happening - until the hard times come. That's when you can see the results in sturdy, healthy and productive plants. (kids, families, nations...)

11:36 AM  
Blogger Shubhajit said...

one of the beautiful blogs I have ever read..thank u

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Shameema said...

This is the first time I have visited your blog.

It resonated with something in my heart. There was such sadness and pain in your post and yet I felt that there was also hope.

I send you and your family my prayers.

May there always be beauty in your life Umm Yousuf

11:52 AM  

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