I was reminded of the siege every time I prepare for a university exam or did a household chore. To study, I had to take advantage of the electricity. When I washed my clothes or cleaned, water and electricity had to be available. When I had work to do, I needed to ensure my laptop was fully charged or I needed to work during hours when electricity was available. If something was urgent, and if we have fuel, then we had to turn on our generator.
Social life was also limited. I could only visit my friends when there was electricity, not only because of the elevator, but also so we could sit together when it was light and not dark.
I was relatively lucky. I come from a middle-class family. The siege limits our lives, but we still have choices. There are many poorer people who don’t have any electricity or whose houses have been completely destroyed, and I loathe the siege for what it has done to them.
I became romantically involved with a person from another country while studying abroad. In different circumstances, if I wanted to meet him after I returned to Gaza, my concerns would revolve around finding an affordable air ticket. In my reality, this is the last thing I think about. In another place, it would only take one day of travel and we would be together.
My reality was different. I had to wait one year and a half before I could meet him because the Rafah crossing closes for long periods of time. Using the Israeli crossings is not possible as it can only be used by people with medical permits or employees of international organizations.
When it was my turn to leave, after a long waiting period, traveling was not easy.
I learned that I could travel suddenly at a point when I was not ready. My official papers and university papers were not ready. I was not financially ready. I was not psychologically ready. Yet it was impossible to postpone the trip because if I did not travel I might not obtain another chance. I had to travel and I could not say goodbye to my friends.
I finally managed to leave Gaza to meet my fiancé, but now I do not know when he will meet my family. Some day?
In the normal world, holidays gather families even if they are scattered around the world. In our case, this is almost impossible.
I did not celebrate my wedding. My mother, father, and brothers are in a far away country; my younger sister is in Egypt. I can't celebrate without them, so I will be patient; maybe they can be with me soon.
This is life. We should not give up. I will maintain my humanity and dreams despite the siege. I believe in change, if not immediate then with time. I will be an example for my brothers and sister and whoever dreams of a future, as they are my hope for the future.
I do not ask compassion but want people to consider how they would feel if they had a child who could not travel on a scholarship, a daughter who could not travel to meet her husband, or when you wake up you cannot find a clean shirt to wear for work. If they think about this, they would work on improving our humanitarian society.
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