The Two Sides of Qalandia Checkpoint Part 12: First Time

This time, we weren’t so lucky as to go through the “Lane for Humanitarian Causes”, which is code for whoever we feel like letting through, so we had to wait, push, and shove in the multiple lines that were being formed around us.

Finally, in the birdcage, I felt like I could breathe again. At least, each person had their own spot.
The old man behind me struck up a conversation with the man behind him about how we – Arabs- don’t know how to line up and how we are somewhat to blame for what the occupation has become. In front of me, as I stared ahead listening intentively to when the metal cages signal their opening, I felt the person in front of me staring at me.

She was a lady in a full length gown in black with a different shades of gray-and-blue colored scarf covering her hair. She was looking at me, and then past me, and smiling.

“May Allah give us patience, sir,” she began saying to the old man.
“Patience! What patience?”

She looked at me again and smiled. “I’m just glad I finally got here.” She put her hand to her mouth, still smiling. “Wait, I guess I shouldn’t say that till I actually get to Jerusalem, right?”

I smiled back at her. “You’ll be on your way there in no time.”
She looked past me. Those eyes gleamed with the eagerness of a young child and a nostalgia that only those who are old and wise would understand. I could tell not only from her words, but the way she observed everything and everyone, that this was her first time going to Jerusalem. Her patience and her smile…smiles that restrictions like Qalandia try to break.

Hers was still there. It was going to be her first time in a city that is probably a minimum of thirty minutes away from where she lives. I wonder how the city embraced her.


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