I grew up by the Gaza sea. Through my childhood, I could never quite comprehend how such a giant body of water, which promised such endless freedom, could also border on such a tiny and cramped stretch of land — a land that was perpetually held hostage, even as it remained perpetually defiant.
From a young age, I would embark with my family on the short journey from our refugee camp to the beach. We went on a haggard cart, laboriously pulled by an equally gaunt donkey. The moment our feet touched the warm sand, the deafening screams would commence. Little feet would run faster than Olympic champions and for a few hours all our cares would dissipate. Here there was no occupation, no prison, no refugee status. Everything smelled and tasted of salt and watermelon. My mother would sit atop a torn, checkered blanket to secure it from the wild winds. She would giggle at my father’s frantic calls to his sons, trying to stop them from going too deep into the water.
I would duck my own head underwater, and hear the haunting humming of the sea. Then I’d retreat, stand back and stare at the horizon.