A country in waiting

Welcome to the land of waiting. People here are born waiting. Waiting to return to a homeland lost, and, from the looks of it, in the most desperate moments, lost forever.

Waiting to return to a home they still carry a key to in their hand and a memory of in their heart; an image hidden in the folds of their dreams, which, sadly and in the most realistic moments, they know no longer exists.

In Palestine you wait for Ramadan, just like in a crowded restaurant in NYC you wait for a breath of fresh air. You wait for a tasreeh (permit), you wait for the paycheck — or even worse, you wait for a job.

You wait for schools to open, for the strike to end, for the checkpoint to be removed, for the accident rubble to be cleared. You wait for the Allenby bridge to empty, for the doctor to finally arrive on time.

In Palestine you wait. You wait for your dreams to come true.

You wait to leave the refugee camp, you wait to leave the village, you wait to arrive to Ramallah, you wait for destiny to embrace you – but she really never does. In fact, at the first stop she slaps you hard in the face and leaves her mark on you, and then you spend a lifetime waiting for that wound to heal. It never does.

In Palestine you wait to graduate, you wait to find a job. Then, you wait for the next job to be better than the first.

In Palestine you wait to get married, then you wait to have children, then you wait for them to grow. Then you wait for them to become doctors – but trust me, they will not.

In Palestine you wait in line endlessly to receive a permission to see the Palestine that is yours. And, after you finally get a chance to see her, you realise she looks nothing like what your grandparents described, and nothing like the country your mother cries over. You wait to see her, only to realise that she has moved on, and did not wait for you.

In Palestine you wait for the birth of a child, anxiously with the hope that she will not be born at a checkpoint.

In Palestine you wait for the hunger strike to end. You wait for sons and daughters to be released from prison – only to be rearrested again, at the next checkpoint on their next trip to find a job and start a life.

In Palestine you wait for your paycheck, only to have it hijacked by hungry loan payments and red hot gasoline prices.

In Palestine you wait endlessly in Qalandia to get home. Keep waiting, this might take hours.

You wait for the summer to end, in the hopes that winter will bring more peace, and you wait for winter to end, in the hopes that summer will bring more warmth.

In Palestine you wait for everything and everyone.

In Palestine you wait for the next eruption, the next intifada, the next incursion, the next war… And that always happens.

Photos: Helga Tawil Souri, from the series Qalandia 2010.

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