QUARANTINE - DAY 33 - 7th April 2020
Speaking to a dear friend in Gaza last night we both agreed that it makes us feel very uncomfortable when we hear "they deserve it" in relation to the virus. No one deserves any calamity to fall on them...
A new confirmed case in Gaza last night, within the quarantine facilities, but they still hope for the best.
After hearing the news of our Prime Minister being taken to ICU last night, and talking to friends in the UK who are struggling both financially and have been hit by the virus, it is obvious that we will all have good and bad days, as a friend in Bethlehem attests to:
It's been more than five weeks since we've been sequestered in our house, which is more of a building site than a home. The workers doing the renovation works have stopped coming since four weeks, and my daughter, grand-daughter and I are cohabiting with the cartons, cement bags, electric tools and plastic wrapped furniture ever since. I feel that this unfriendly environment is an extra punishment that we don't deserve. But let's put things into perspective: we are at least safe and can afford to replenish the fridge and larder every week or so.
The days are undistinguishable and we are totally disconnected from what makes life matter: going to work every day, meeting up with friends for a meal, receiving a neighbour for a coffee and a chat, going to a yoga class, and looking forward to the weekend. The irony is that with all the time on our hands, I cannot seem to manage a routine for exercising, reading or writing and don't feel inclined to ring a friend or a colleague and catch up on their news. Is it because I don't want to hear all the aggravations we're going through thrown back in my face?
Compared with previous incarcerations imposed by the Israeli military - and we've had quite a few - this one should feel lighter because we are not alone in it and we do not feel isolated from the rest of the world as they look away and get on with life. We are in it together, I keep repeating to myself, and when I go on the internet, I can read a whole bunch of advice or lockdown tips telling me what to do, how to react and how to feel in every situation. That was unheard of prior to the pandemic.
Two days ago was Palm Sunday, and it's a big thing here: people crowd the churches and children, scrubbed and attired in their Sunday best, carry palm branches decorated with flowers, baubles, and ribbons, and parade in the streets. This year, the church doors remained shut and the streets and squares were deserted. It will be the same for the rest of Holy Week. There is Maundy Thursday's ceremony of the washing of feet and Good Friday's religious ceremony and the stations of the Cross. Ever since we've been banned from going to Jerusalem, to walk the Via Dolorosa, the three towns of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour have taken on new important significance. Last but not least, the Saturday of Light, with the traditional midnight mass.
This Easter Sunday, no one will be able to go to church and we will neither have the egg hunt for the children nor the traditional family luncheon. In order to restore a sense of normalcy, my grand-daughter and I will be spending today on preparing the traditional Easter cakes: date rings that supposedly symbolise the crown of thorn, and ma'mouls stuffed with nuts that represent the sponge soaked with vinegar that was used as he stood dying on the cross.
Photo courtesy of Mohamed Abu Haniyeh