All posts by Gege Abyad

Gege Al Abyad, is originally from Jaffa, but grew up in the Gaza Strip. She attended Al-Azhar University, where she received her BA in English and French literature. She questions all kind of limitations and social restrictions like nationality, gender and religion. She is a part of young writer's collective in Gaza named "We Are Not Numbers"

Gaza, darkness, and romance

Honestly, if I had to tell one story about my country, it would be about politicians. They literally sacrifice their lives for us. I am serious.

In my free time, I watch the news, and I like to think of the Palestinian cause and our political system. Just kidding. I never watch the news. It’s like watching the same film, over and over. It’s not just boring, but confusing too. Why would they show the same thing every day? And I hate the fact that after watching starving children in Africa, Yemen or Syria, we, as if nothing is happening, go on with our days, eat lunch, and complain about the food.

But I do want to talk about one glaring issue here in Gaza. The problem of the power cuts is not a political issue, so I can share what I think of it, especially that we can’t really grasp the politicians’ justification for what’s happening. So, here is mine, a more reasonable one.

At night, when the power goes off (and life turns into a scary movie named “The City of Darkness”), it is not because of a fuel crisis caused by the Israeli siege. No. The reason is that our politicians are super romantic. I am serious, again.

What do you do when you want to have a romantic night with your wife? (Of course, I’m a 22-year-old Arab girl, so I’m just guessing here.) Chances are you turn the lights off and light some candles. Well, the politicians in Gaza want us all to be a little more passionate. So they turn the whole city off, as if it’s their own room. They think to themselves, “We’re going to share these moments with our people and ask them to light candles too.” It’s as simple as that. If the power goes out during the day, it means many politicians want to share their moments with the public.

As a selfish citizen, I have only one complaint. I, as a single person, spend the whole night staring at the candle, melting with its heat, and I can’t help but imagine what those lucky politicians are doing at night. If the power was on, I would probably watch “Ellen” or “Friends.” But the power is out, and I’m all alone. The cuts are not fun for children either. They keep asking, “Why?” And I answer, “I can’t tell you, it’s R-rated.”

Finally, I admit I’m a bit envious. I have been unsuccessfully trying to “affect” (maybe “ruin”) my ex-boyfriend’s life for some time, while our beloved politicians, through their romantic instincts, are influencing 1.8 million lives every day.


Why I will never have a daughter in Gaza

Here are a set of assumptions you might make about me after reading the above title:

She is too feminist.
She’s short and ugly.
She likes the word spinster.
She’s a liberal, too busy questioning marriage.
She’s a philosopher.
She’s a drama queen.
She doesn’t want her daughter to see President Trump.

Well, some of those things are accurate, but none are the actual reasons why I am writing this.

I am 22, I have two names, two birthdays, and multiple personalities (which means I am good actress). I grew up in Gaza, Palestine, an Arab society. Do I love it? Yes. I just prefer a distant relationship with my country.

The concept of not wanting to have kids, especially a daughter, has always been on my mind, but I have never considered the reasons. Every time I go into a discussion about this matter, I become confused and quite unpersuasive (You have to justify some personal decisions when living in a conservative society) . It was never enough to say, “Well, the world is too terrible to bring more humans into it, especially in my case, the Palestinian case. That’s the last thing I want to do to someone. A kid with the Palestinian passport is like a bird born with no wings. Oh man, It hurts!”

Anyhow, I can make a list of hundreds of rational and quite convincing reasons now, but you can conclude what they might be. You’re smart.

The other day I was in the court, filing some official papers, which is a bit of a nightmare because I have to don a veil and a burka, otherwise I am not allowed to enter the building. Next to me was a woman whose child had been involved in an accident. She was supposed to receive an amount of money as some sort of compensation. The judge asked, “Where is the father?” She said, “He is outside the country.” The judge answered, angrily, “Where is his uncle (Father’s brother)?” She said, “I am his mother!” The judge shouted at her, “Where is his grandfather? Where is the child’s family? Go and bring anyone from his father’s part.” As it turns out, you mom is not your family. What a surprise!

I usually go with my mother to get the papers done. And every time, we go through a very long and tiring process. The last time, however, I went with my brother, and to my surprise, everything was completed in less than 10 minutes, without even asking about me (I was waiting in the car). Why? Apparently, my country’s slogan is “Men only.” Transparency, power, and authority are equivalents for manhood.
This a small snapshot of what a woman goes through in my town on a daily basis. For me, it sums up a lot of struggles, difficulties, and a load of crap. What is the problem? Is it the law? The so-called “religious government”? The religion itself? Men? Ignorance?

Ultimately, I don’t really care.  But the whole thing has led me to one conclusion. I love my daughter too much to ever bring her into this country.