Fida Ziad – Palestinian writer from Gaza, Palestine

The first time I looked in the mirror, it was in a house where my brother took refuge in Rafah, that is, three months after the displacement, his wife lent me a broken mirror, I looked at it and asked myself: “Who is this?!”

Shifts in women’s lives during the Gaza war!

No, let’s study the lives of women in general, in Gaza…

Now I’m thinking of a suitable title for a serious article these days; I mean war days.

Do we know the meaning of the word war for women?

You will ask me, and what are the different days of war between women and men?

Well, I also don’t know how much of the differences between a day of war in a man’s life and a day of war in a woman’s life, but it’s an article I’m trying to look serious, impartial, and honest with the information conveyed.

So, let me take you on a woman’s journey with a daily memory of war.

On one occasion of the repeated wars in Gaza, I went to my house with a friend of my mother, I remember that I was in the beginning of my twenties, as if I am now writing in my sixties, for example, because you will not believe that from my twenties until this thirties, I store the memory of five wars, you may not care about this, you may think that war is just an invasive habit.

That day, the lady, my mother’s friend, stood in front of the mirror putting eyeliner in her eyes, and when I asked her why she was interested in the eyeliner, she replied: “I do not live without eyeliner in my eyes, I feel that my eyes are not beautiful except with black eyeliner.”

“You will know that war is the most important day to teach you details about life, I lived in Lebanon, Kuwait, and Libya,” she continued after a sneaky smile, still looking in the mirror.

I didn’t feel very wise about its last sentence, war will never be the most beautiful or best day, war is a long and ugly day!

But I knew the war wouldn’t stop women from looking in the mirror, even once!

In my repeated days of displacement during this war, as friends call me “the Lady of the Standard Displacement,” I relied on the phone’s front camera as an alternative to the mirror. I check my face and features, I take a lot of pictures, and I try to research the details of the changes on my face.

But the camera is not honestly the mirror, the mirror reflects my image beyond the boundaries of technology, and beyond having to take the image, then having to purify blemishes and flaws and reassurance of the shape of the face.

The mirror is truer than all this lie I resorted to, it tells you who you are!

I searched the market on my days of displacement in Khanyunis, south of the Strip, but I did not find a single mirror, that day I stood in the market objecting, and with strong condemnation, my friend asked: “How do all these women move towards the market without looking in the mirror?!”.

She replied sarcastically: “We have all memorized the shape of our days, we will find wearing everything in the absence!”.

The first time I looked in the mirror, it was in a house where my brother took refuge in Rafah, that is, three months after the displacement, his wife lent me a broken mirror, I looked at it and asked myself: “Who is this?!”

It was not a question in the form of fear, but rather a conjunction in which I was looking for the features that I forgot, for the first time I looked in the mirror without having the sentence of my best friend “What is this beauty?”, even this sentence was lost from me the moment of looking in the mirror.

For more than two hours I look in the mirror and throw it in the tool basket, and I reconsider…

Then I decided to disguise and deny!

I went out of the displacement house to the street, I bought masks to hide details of the faces of pedestrians in me…but!

What a sarcasm of destiny!

The first day to wear the mask, an acquaintance came across me, and he asked me: “How are you?!”

I’m upset, how did he know me, I’m disguised with a gage?!

He answered me: “Yes, no….from the intensity of my longing to throw someone to share the displacement with me in the crowd of Rafah, I knew you!”.

So, we know each other after a fantasy or after a research effort.

I replied quickly: “I’m fine!”

I was careful not to take off the gag, I wanted to remain disguised, and the dialogue went as my disguise.

The meeting and the question ended and I went on to repeat inside me to continue my way: “Oh God, I will not find anyone who will know me once!”

War ruined my confidence to appear, imagine!

A woman who went on not to visit the eyeliner for four months, troubled sleep, had to participate in the women’s ignition ceremony, had to share with the children to transport the water, observe the road from the bombing, avoid the danger, mediate a pale face.

This is not a review of a transformation in the life of a woman working in the field of fashion, for example, this is a woman who goes out to work with all her elegance, a good sunscreen, preceded by a suitable skin wash, moisturizing creams, and skin care, it is her eternal argument to take extra time in front of her mirror, a woman who loves the mirror, her reflection and fulfillment.

And yet I’m the luckiest woman…


I got a mirror and time to stand in front of it, I was able to test my ability to remember to draw the black eyeliner above the eye; men always stutter it with his name “Ailiner”, and the mascara in a house, I mean in a room in a house.

Women will now envy me, most of those displaced in shelters are women and children, and these women, do not have such a thing.

Two months ago, I was participating in the management of a camp for the displaced in Rafah, one of the women borrowed another displaced tent, and was able to return to his destroyed house in Khan Younis, after the withdrawal of the Israeli army from there, to give her son’s wife “Kentha” a chance to lift her headdress from her hair “drow the prayer”, they stayed in the tent with her husband’s brothers, sons of her mother-in-law and others, whom the woman cannot expose her hair in front of them!

Another woman envies me after a little while, when she finds me I can put on sunscreen, while she washes her face with one hand, and the other hand holding her “Kila”.

Another shift that hits the woman here, I forgot to tell you, is one right hand that does not clap, but it is one hand, bathing her hair, washing her face, one lucky hand who owns it, to have a witnessed farewell opportunity in front of her!

I am the most fortunate, Umm Khalil will envy me in a little while, as I put the mirror on the edge of the window to prove it, but we will be equal in a while, where the two of us will take the only means of transportation available, a cart that is dragged by a donkey, and on the cart rides a woman who distributed sunscreen well on her face, and a little of her favorite perfume “Scandle”; I forgot to tell you that for the first time I was grateful to the thief.

Justification for theft, as I bought my favorite perfume for five shekels after I had buying it four times its price before the war now, the thief stole the store and gave me the favorite perfume at a price that suited the budget of the war.

Another shift that afflicts women’s principles is that we slept for the idea of theft because we want to have a day before this ruin.

For example, I did not have to be carried in the evacuation bag, all this even though it expanded for the toothbrush, for example, but as women, we are ashamed of others thinking of us, that we have our well-being at the expense of the ruin of war.

This does not seem to be a regional shift in the lives of women, and may not affect Palestinian-Arab diplomatic relations, for example, and it will not take the pitfalls in the relationship of the axis of resistance, for example.

But can you imagine a woman who knows what it looks like from women’s eyes, not from her mirror?

What would it look like to convey the true picture of reality?

Then is there a homeland that might happen, without a woman whose mirror tells her that she is the most beautiful ever?!

Fida Ziad – Palestinian writer from Gaza, PalestineThis piece was first published in Arabic by DARAJ. The English version is by