Nasser, an old university friend of mine, lives on the outskirts of Gaza City. One of the things we bonded over back in the day was making fun of the “ikhwani beardos” on the campus of our Cairo school. Life takes funny turns: I ended up in America and he ended up a bureaucrat back home in the Gaza machinery.
We’ve stayed in touch all these years. Whenever things flare up, my mind immediately thinks of Nasser. I called him via Telegram with an Eid greeting this morning. He was tense and nervous. He explained that his electricity is out and can’t stay long on the phone because they are relying on car batteries. His priority is to keep the fridge running so the food doesn’t spoil.
“I’ve gotten used to the electricity issues,” he explained. “What I’m most worried about is that tall buildings are now being targeted. My main concern is that my children survive this. I don’t know what to do. Much more powerful forces than me are in charge right now. What these powers agree to or not is out of my control. All I want is for my own kids to survive until tomorrow.”
Nasser has 3 boys and a girl. My heart broke, as I sat in the safety of America. It’s wounding to be exposed to such dilemmas. Eid is supposed to be a happy day.
“Keep messaging me even if I don’t respond,” Nasser added as we ended the call. “At least I know that you guys are with me. Forgive me for sounding terse, a war is going on.”
I, for one, am not going to put one of those empty social media banners. I know what to do to help Nasser. I’m heading down to Western Union now – if it’s still possible to send money.