What does a mother in Gaza do on Mothers’ Day?
She wakes to pitch blackness, because there is no electricity to light the room.
She fumbles her way by torch or candlelight (if there is not too much wind to blow it out) to the bathroom.
Is she in luck this-morning? Did the electricity come on during the night and power the pump so that there is water in the roof-top tank to wash with? Even if it is so icy-cold and salty that it stings her eyes almost as much as the teargas that her sisters in the West Bank and Jerusalem must bear?
Is there any water left in the drinking container, to make a cup of coffee, or will she have to stumble into the yard and borrow some from her neighbour’s bucket? Is there even any coffee now that UNRWA has cut her food aid? Will her neighbour have any water left in her bucket this morning?
Will she have time to fetch and make and drink it before the second-youngest child awakes, Nuha, who fell into a fitful fevered sleep it seems like only minutes ago? The child who needs medicine that the hospital does not have, because the Palestinian Authority has not sent it, like the other 79.99% of necessary medicines and disposables?
Will Nuha meet the same fate as her older brother Ahmed, who died at Rafah Crossing waiting to go to Egypt for medical treatment unavailable in Gaza?
Who will say the Salat al-Janazah, with her father stuck two years in an Israeli jail, without charge…
Yes, there is some water, Alhamdulillah – enough for a cup of tea. She lights the gas. It burns a moment, sputters, and dies. The gas has given up the ghost.
She sighs. She prays. She crawls back into the bed she shares with her children, a mattress on the floor of the room they now call home. A room in the already-overcrowded house of a relative, where five families inhabit each of the five bedrooms that once housed but one child – yet still better than the rubbled remains of their own houses, struck by Israeli rockets, made unlivable by floodwaters, and for which repairs are impossible because of the lack of building materials.
At least she is not alone, she thinks as she dozes off, wrapping her surviving children in the warmth of her love, the only thing she has to give them.
Who will help her, this mother of Gaza, on this Mothers’ Day – or any other day?