Toine van Teeffelen
May 2011 (4)
Two weeks ago Mary and I looked up at the rain in amazement and happiness. What a beautiful clouds - exactly like the 17th century Dutch master painters used to create! How beautiful can rain be. Usually we say here that after St George’s Day, May 5, rain stops. But it was good to have the late rain, it cleaned the air from the red desert dust of the previous days, and it is also good for the olive harvest later this year.
Mary felt inspired and put new flowers on the balcony and next to the sculpture of St Mary’s covered by a little grotto in front of our house. On the left roses and on the right the khubeze, the geranium. After her work, Mary says with full satisfaction a few times “hilu” [beautiful]. It comes out of the depth of her body where heart and lungs come together, as if out of the earth itself. She tells me to take away the old plant holders. As she expected, people in the neighborhood immediately asked if there is work to do in the garden. Tamer is barefoot and walks around like a wizzard with a little stick creating life in the garden. He is tired, he then says, he wants to continue planting the garden through a computer game.
Mary leaves for the church to give the priests there a bottle of olive oil for lighting a lamp in the Nativity Grotto, as was usage in the past, in order to support a family member. During the olive harvest in October/November peasants sometimes used to give bottles of olive oil to St George, the protector of the people against droughts.
But which saint protects us from the occupation from whom we are dependent for the water? Suddenly there is no water in the house, earlier in the summer than usual. Do we need a motor to faster pump up the water to the roof; should we have an extra tank? The water company says that the water will come in two days, but experience learns that two days may be more. Should we buy water, against prices even higher than in Israel?
Before doing a wash, I usually help Mary climbing up to the very top of the roof to see how much water is left in the tanks. This time we are however left unprepared. Let’s wait, we decide. In the evening I participate in the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, which focuses this time on the lack of entry to Jerusalem. While we are watching brief solidarity movies sent from three continents and projected on the Wall, Mary calls me to say that I should not forget to bring all our tooth brushes from the home to my mother in law’s where there is still water left. Next day we go swimming; after all, what better to do when there is no water? In fact the summer holidays have started. All Tamer’s energy piled up from playing computer and play station games bursts out. “Good morning,” he tells me and shoots me in the face with a waterpistol. We warn Tamer and Jara that this summer there will be no escape from reading books. Mary brings the novel “Cry Freedom” to read. Good choice. We hear about the 22 Palestinians (at least) from Syria killed by the Israeli army while trying to enter the occupied Golan, just walking.
I walk in the evening alone along the university road and am amazed how close the houses of the Gilo settlement are. You can almost look into their houses. They do not have lack of water, never. The water they use likely comes from the West Bank, from the large aquifers to the south-east of Bethlehem. They use Palestinian water and deny Palestinians the use of water. When I reach my mother’s in law to brush my teeth, Mary informs me that also in that house there’s now no water. “If you wish to live in Palestine, you have to suffer,” she says.
For photos of the World Week activity: