Bethlehem, 2002: A Diary by Carol Sansour

Chris Steele-Perkins, Kabul, 1994. Source:

Nadim wakes up

We play for a while

Then go downstairs to feed him

We find sido Tony already there

Anxious going around waiting for someone to prepare breakfast

Shaved, dressed, ready to go nowhere

I feed Nadim

André prepares breakfast

Najla shows up

Announcing that Em Lulu woke up

Najla is auntie Julia’s (Em Lulu’s) nurse

Najla is deaf

Half of the residents of this house have hearing deficiencies

In fact, they are all deaf

Em Lulu arrives

She is tired by now

Fearful of overeating and taking the wrong medicine

George appears with his eyes hardly open

He attempts to figure out his mom’s medicine program

He fails

Najla takes charge

It is around 10 am

Paola and Kiki are still hiding

Same questions asked every morning

Shul akhbar?

No issues with the question

Answering is the dilemma

Paola comes downstairs

All dressed up carrying her purse

Packed with medicine

Kiki falls

“They are still here!”

“Can’t they stop eating?”

“Can’t they do anything better with their lives?”

All questions left unanswered

We are in wartime

The house is eating as if having a big party

George is shouting looking for his hair gel

It is noontime

The seventy and above are watching the news

Half of the broadcast cannot be heard or understood

Half of the time the viewers are all asleep

Andre, Kiki and I are playing cards

And bitching in the light

Nadim naps

And so go the days

Preparing breakfast

Exchanging akhbar

Preparing lunch

Exchanging akhbar

Preparing dinner

Exchanging akhbar

I will not mention snacks

Or drinks

Fireworks are our daily treat

Complementing the festive mood

Twenty-five days have passed

We have had all the cauliflower in the world

The skies are still grey

And it would be nice to take Nana’s advice

Go for short walks

The house arrest is 24/7

The lifting of the curfew is only for an hour

Julia calls the hairdresser

A pedicure is overdue

Do not wish you were here

We are having a ball

We are discretely at each other’s necks

In a day or two, somebody is going to be killed

Not by a stray bullet

Or a shell

But with a kitchen knife