pa • tient noun
1. a person who is receiving medical treatment, especially in a hospital
2. a person who receives treatment from a particular doctor, dentist, etc
He’s one of Dr Shaw’s patients.
© Oxford University Press, 2010
pa • tient adjective
~ (with sb/sth)
able to wait for a long time or accept annoying behaviour or difficulties without becoming angry
© Oxford University Press, 2010
“Allah ye’tahom el yahood” Damn Jews! My mother bitterly mumbled, her eyes welled with tears she could no longer hold back. My brother has just finished a call with an officer working in the Rafah Border. The officer assured us what we feared. He told us that my mother, who is holding a medical report to be transferred to Egypt for treatment, cannot take off to Rafah border unless she has previously registered her name in the Ministry of Interior. She has to wait. Again.
“Why should all doors get closed in my face? I had a glimpse of light. Why should it always fade away in a second?” She began whining, blaming her luck, and roaming her wet eyes around the closed ready bags scattered along the room. I stood helpless. With the amount of news I’d heard last week, I could not help a bit. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the news of opening the only official border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, I was no less enthusiastic. It was such a relief. Even with the restriction on the movement that took place only two days after the glorious news it sounded a relief. But, it never does when you are one of the 400 other travelers who’d get turned back or who are denied access or those who have to wait.
I understand how difficult it is to wait. How painful! How tortuous! But we Palestinians seem to be destined for waiting.
My mother has been waiting for the last two months. It all started three months ago after the Egyptian revolution and news about some tremendous changes in the Egyptian regime that in the process might finally lead to relieving the restrictions imposed on about a million and a half Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. My mother thought maybe this time she could travel to Egypt to check on her medical condition without having to go through a tunnel. Yes, she was actually smuggled through a tunnel two years ago for medical treatment. A much longer epic that I hoped would not happen again.
However, she discovered her condition was actually much more dangerous than she had originally thought. She urgently needs medical treatment that might involve surgery.
Performing her operation here is not an option. Yes, like all other Palestinians living in Gaza, I have doubts and fears when it comes to treating grave diseases in our hospitals. Not only because of the lack of well-qualified doctors, which is part of the problem, but because for ages Gaza has been denied access to medical technical equipment.
It sounded like an act of treason. It still does. An Israeli hospital felt like the best option. For days, I couldn’t get the paradox. It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t figure out if I should be grateful to Israel for potentially providing my mother with the medical treatment, or for potentially saving my mother’s life while claiming the lives of hundreds of others.
Getting her a place in a hospital in Jerusalem would be a blessing. But when it comes to Jerusalem, things are not that simple or even that human. Getting an appointment in a hospital in Jerusalem was the hard part. Seemingly, my mother was not about to die. God Forbid. Therefore, she has to wait. Again.
While waiting, I romanticized about the time I’d be spending in Jerusalem. I’ve never seen Jerusalem before. This was my chance. I should be escorting my mother during her stay there. What bliss! The Israelis left me no room for fancy though. I was later informed that I was not allowed to accompany my mother for her treatment in Jerusalem for I was underage. I am 23. I am legally mature, but for Israel I was apparently a potential threat. My hopes for going to Jerusalem were crushed down. My mother’s documents were rejected. She would not go to Jerusalem either.
Last year, I was asked by a journalist whether I remember a time when there were no restriction over movement or when we were able to travel freely. It didn’t take me much time to answer with a “No”. I still remember how we used to celebrate my uncles by making big banquets every time one of them would make it to Gaza for a day or two. While celebrating their victorious effortless 3-day journey of return, we would chat about of the ways Egyptians, Israelis and Palestinians would each treat Palestinian travelers.
If I were asked the same question today, looking at the packed bags leaning against the wall, I would still answer: No.
Sameeha Elwan blogs @ Here, I was born