A phenomenon that I called “rain day” happened twice this week. This is when classes are cancelled because of too much rain, which in the Middle Eastern climate is like their snow. So it makes sense, but I was quite baffled nonetheless. A group of us spent these days wrapped in blankets watching movies just as if it were a snow day. And of course there was hot chocolate!
I made a new Palestinian friend this week by the name of Ala’adin. I met him originally at Project Hope’s office, but ran into him in the park on one of the rain days. He runs a coffee and tea stand in the park and invited me to drink with him. He has since invited me twice to his family’s home in a refugee camp in town for dinner. The entrance to his house after sunset is so dark you can’t see the steps. Last night while I was there, he half acted out/half told the scene of when the Israeli army raided his house in the second intifada. He said they came in while he was sleeping on the floor (which is where he always sleeps due to the house’s size). They shot him in the foot and the shoulder. There are still deep scars there. They shot at his mother, when he stood up and said “Don’t shoot my family. Shoot me instead!” They kicked in his knees and made him kneel. They handcuffed him and then hit him in the head with their gun. His eighteen year old brother, Abdulkarim, his father, and his nephew were all killed. There is a martyr poster of his younger brother on a pole right next to his tea stand in the park.
The bizarre thing was that during the story he would stop and say “Occupation shot me in the arm. No problem!” And give a strange giggle. I assume it was some sort of coping mechanism. And he would say “Why no problem? Because I have a heart. And I am strong.”
Shortly after the reenactment, his mother brought out dinner and everyone in the family came. They thought my fall coat wasn’t cutting it in this mild weather, so they gave me a sweater and a winter coat, which I tried to give back upon leaving, but I was insisted to keep them. I also somehow acquired giant clip-on earrings, two rings, and a big puff of cotton candy. No matter the circumstances, Palestinian hospitality never ceases. They have no money, and yet his sister just gave me her coat. Next time I know to bundle up.