The blot of gray known as Qalandia checkpoint has these metal bars lined vertically that a person has to push in one direction to get through to the next part. They open and close according to the soldier/officer that is in charge, according to his/her liking/boredom or if the number of people is too much to handle. My friend gave it a name in Arabic, and my mind automatically translated it into “the cattle’s roundabout,” except, once again, it only goes in one direction.
On lane three, the lane I often found myself passing through, a cattle’s roundabout exists. Other than the fact that such a tool adds on to Israel’s effect of making Qalandia – and other checkpoints – seem like a human-sized birdcage or barnyard, the “roundabout” itself is not where the stories lie. It is what is written on it.
This specific one had the good stuff written. A random cellphone number, a few names, a few prayers, verses from the Holy Quran…Like the information on a cereal box, I found my eyes reading the words written on the metal bars.
“Palestine free alive or die” was one of the things written right in the middle…right where my eyesight hits straight ahead. After countless meetings with this phrase, my thoughts couldn’t help but drift off into a thought that is so distant…a thought that has been termed a dream, wishful thinking, a reality we may never see but we struggle everyday for.
Would the cattle roundabout be put in a museum one day…proof of a heinous occupation that once stood?