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Two postcards from the Walls

 - by Donata Lorenzetti, Italy-

Greetings from Ramallah 
It's damn hot this afternoon in Ramallah. It's July, July 2014. An unbelievable hot month.
We abandoned the chaos of the city center to reach the quietness of the ancient quarter. We are wandering along the winding lanes, getting lost in courtyards, peeping through the gates of stone houses. A few of them are crowned by a little dome. The houses are small, the walls scraped off. Outside some stone stairs lead to second floors. Somewhere the top of a grapevine or a lemon tree jumps out high from stone fences, and you can guess a small hidden garden beyond them.
The walls are made of regular pale stones, the roofs are flat and, on top of them, black cisterns collect water.
Silence is all around us.
And here we are, four sweating people taking pictures and looking around, far away from every tourist path.
Out of the blue, a door opens in the wall in front of us, and a man is out there on the street, waving his hand: a friendly face and a friendly gesture that clearly means Come in. And we go in.
Beyond the wall there is a small shaded garden, and a porch before the entrance of the house. Under the lemon tree, some chairs and a small table, and behind them stands the whole family, father, mother, two girls and a boy, straight and parallel like the teeth of a comb.
We don't speak Arabic, except for a few words learned by chance, they don't speak English, except for a few words learned by the children at school. But the purpose is clear, and the gesture helps understanding. Sit here in the shadow and have some cold water. It is too hot to walk around.
And the younger daughter brings a jug of water, and lemonade, on a big tray, and glasses for us to cool down.
Four glasses.
These are Ramadan days, and nobody can drink, not even during the hottest days.
Please drink! Have some water! The gesture and the smile invite us, and we drink, satisfied to quench our thirst, to rest in this fresh air, but above all to share this moment of plain humanity.

Greetings from Jerusalem 
Jerusalem, cracked and anguishing city. How captivating is strolling along the ancient roads and steps, with their passages in which a crowd of different people hurry towards different destinations, sometimes talking, sometimes neglecting each other with indifference, annoyance, disdain, hate.
We are at the checkpoint before the Kotel. The last people of a long queue. There are two male soldiers checking our belongings: belt bags, cameras, rucksacks. The soldiers are very young: they are laughing about I don't know what, they joke. My friend and I smile, and the soldiers involve us in their jokes. I don't remember the topic, but in a few minutes we are laughing together. They ask us where do we come from, we ask them how to greet in Hebrew. It is a nice moment in a city of sorrow and fear and hatred.
Later, I think about those young boys, about their need, I suppose, to live a normal life, to laugh, not to embrace a weapon all day long to keep the land that was the others' land.

Two postcards in my mind: I was watched straight in the eyes from a person facing me, I was recognised as a human being; and they understood me. Both of us were respectful.
If you look at the clothes, at the colours, at the religions, at the political factions, at the age, at the origin, a thousand barriers will prevent you to see only a person.
I found myself thinking what a pitiful life those two people must have led and must live, each one  never being able to see himself as he was seen in the eyes of the other.
But don't give up hastily, let's attempt again. Try again.

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1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful and meaningful "postcards" to remind of an unforgettable journey! Beautiful story.

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