Nablus: ‘In the Time of Curfew’

‘Ala, who lives in Nablus, started to write his long awaited ‘Love in the Time of Curfew’, a title he borrowed from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel, ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’. Ala hopes he could travel from Latin America to Palestine to write a new novel: ‘Love in the Time of Curfew’ or ‘Love under Siege’. ‘Ala just wrote me a message. I spoke with him on Saturday, just an hour after Israeli occupiers left his home. ‘It’s the most savage army in the world. I thought they had a modern well-trained and equipped army, but they’re a bunch of hooligans’, he said. ‘Ala told me about how Israeli occupiers emptied stores in the old city of Nablus, looting and stealing, throwing goods on the floor which were later overrun by Israeli tanks.

‘They are looking for Hamas’, ‘Ala told me, ‘but from the hundred Palestinians they arrested, only two were known politically to be affiliated to Hamas. They don’t know what to do. Of course, we all know that there is an option out of this mess, they just need to discover that oppression and occupation does not work and that to end this mess they need to withdraw’. I agreed with him. ‘If they could occupy the West Bank and Gaza in six days’, I told ‘Ala, ‘they can also withdraw in six days. What do they need to negotiate?’

‘Ala wrote me about the curfew today.

‘Staying at home for 46 days is a great opportunity for somebody who used to work for the whole year, travel around the world, and be exhausted from meeting people. It is something else for us. We did not work at all for past few months. We did not even leave our city.’

‘I haven’t seen our lands and its green trees. I am only used to see the destroyed dusty streets of Nablus and unemployed residents.’

‘What can you do if you are forced to stay in your home for such a long time? You do not even have the right to sit on your balcony. You might get shot, if you are that brave.’

‘Mahmud, the three-year-old son of my neighbour was shot yesterday. He was sitting on the balcony. He got injured. He had to wait for the ambulance for half an hour.’

‘Ala made up his mind about the curfew. ‘My computer is like a home for orphans. Data just sits there to be used. The Women’s Union modernisation project, uprising cartoons, a flash course, and a TOEFL training course. I have to call my friends, the friends of my friends, clean my appartment, reading (‘My Antonia’ of Willa Cather) philosophy.’

‘Frustration increases as an Israeli tank destroyed the electricity provider in front of our home. We did not have any electricity today. The computer does not work. I wish I can close my eyes and when I open them again, this nightmare is gone. I dream about visiting Birzeit University and Ramallah. I see them in my dreams. What a strange life. I used to dream and revisit Damascus, I used to dream about Amman, they seem so far away. Now, I dream of Ramallah and Birzeit, so nearby. I left my friends but part of me is still there. If such dreams cannot be realised, how can I continue dreaming about Jaffa?’