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Gaza Diaries

It’s a Rainy Day in My Normal Life

But in my current abnormal life in Gaza under bombardment, it’s a rainy day that's beyond dreary.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on the We Are Not Numbers website on December 21, 2023.

We Are Not Numbers editor’s note: The following is a text exchange from Dec. 13 between a WANN writer in Gaza and her mentor, Jessie Boylan, in Australia. It has been lightly edited for clarity.

Habiba: It’s raining today. We hang up our laundry on the wall to air-dry because there’s no other place to put them in the “house” we’re currently in. Now most of our clothes are wet/unclean. We can’t re-wash it until the water comes back every four to five days. We also can’t cook today, as the fire would go out because of the rain. I feel helpless. I keep thinking about what I could be doing now if I was in my home, in my bed. 

Jesse: What do you think you would be doing if you were at home? Would it help to imagine a normal day of life if this wasn’t going on?

Habiba: So, it’s Wednesday and it’s a rainy day in my normal life.

I would think about skipping my class, my 8 a.m. class, and staying in my bed.

My mum would be making she’reya, which is like sweet noodles. It keeps us warm and it’s sweet. I would be lying in my bed with my cat, Taymoor, next to me.

I don’t know what happened to him. We left him in Jabaliya. In reality, my fiancé went to our home, and he couldn’t find Taymoor, so I don’t actually know if he is dead or alive, if he’s eating or if he’s hungry. But you can’t feel sad about a cat, when all those humans are being killed.

But I would be in my bed with Taymoor, and I would be thinking about my future with my fiancé Shadi.

It’s funny, because I would always be thinking about something else. Now we are at war and I am thinking about a normal day in my life. If I was in my bed, and it was a normal day I would be thinking about the future. We always make plans, but we don’t know whether if it will happen or become true.

Habiba’s family laundry put out to dry, in the rain. Photo provided by Habiba Masoid.

My last problem with my fiancé was about my kitchen. Whether I wanted it to be white with gold or white with silver, and we couldn’t find a solution for this, so we thought that we would make it only white, and this was a huge problem between me and him and his mum and my mum. It was funny. But now he is still in the north, and I am in the south, and I can’t call him every minute to check on him. I can call him in the morning or late at night because the connection would be strong, because everyone else is asleep.

We won’t have to choose now about the rest of the decorations and the furniture of the house. We won’t ever choose if it should be white with gold or white with silver.

It’s really sad and funny in the same way, because I don’t have any idea about my future. I don’t know if I will continue my college. I’m in the fifth year now, and I still have three years to finish my medical school. And now the whole university is bombed. Most of the population is displaced and the homes are destroyed, and the hospitals are bombed, and the doctors are killed so… we don’t know what will happen after the war. And it’s terrifying not knowing.

In my normal life I would be terrified because I don’t know what would happen in the future, but all the possibilities were acceptable. Even the worst nightmares that could happen to us would be acceptable somehow because you can find the solution, you can move on with your life. But now every time I think about the future after the war, it’s either that me and my family are dead, or alive, but starting a new life from zero. I don’t think Gaza is liveable after the war.

But after eating she’reya in my bed, I would be so lazy, and my mum would scream at me to go and wash the dishes and help her in tidying up the rest of the house. That’s just a morning in a normal life in Gaza.

I would call my fiancé Shadi then, or I would meet up with him.

We loved to eat together. We ate at all the restaurants in Gaza, and now all of them are bombed. It’s funny because even when we think about after the war, I keep asking him, “What will we eat?” “What will we do?” We used to go in car rides and watch the sunsets and stay at the beach. Now we don’t have anything but the sunset and the beach after the war.

But he keeps telling me, his mother is a great chef, and she can cook us whatever we want, and that keeps me going. I want to eat delicious food after the war. And I want to laugh, and I want to have the great party that I was planning for our engagement.

You know what’s funny. The place where we were planning to have the engagement party is bombed. And the salon where I was going to do my hair and make-up is bombed. And my dress that I chose, the whole street with the center is bombed. Even my engagement ring; I left it at home, and when Shadi went back to look for it, he couldn’t find it. I think it was probably stolen.

So, there is nothing that we look forward to after the war. We just want to live. We don’t know how to live after the war.

Habiba Masoud is a medical student in Gaza. She describes herself as “a searcher.”

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