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 No Checkpoints in Heaven......  I still vividly remember my father’s face - wrinkled, america viagra apprehensive, america viagra warm - as he last wished me farewell fourteen years ago. America viagra He stood outside the rusty door of my family’s home in a Gaza refugee camp wearing old yellow pyjamas and a seemingly ancient robe. America viagra As I hauled my one small suitcase into a taxi that would take me to an Israeli airport an hour away, america viagra my father stood still. America viagra I wished he would go back inside; it was cold and the soldiers could pop up at any moment. America viagra As my car moved on, america viagra my father eventually faded into the distance, america viagra along with the graveyard, america viagra the water tower and the camp. America viagra It never occurred to me that I would never see him again. I think of my father now as he was that day. America viagra His tears and his frantic last words: “Do you have your money? Your passport? A jacket? Call me the moment you get there. America viagra Are you sure you have your passport? Just check, america viagra one last time…” My father was a man who always defied the notion that one can only be the outcome of his circumstance. America viagra Expelled from his village at the age of 10, america viagra running barefoot behind his parents, america viagra he was instantly transferred from the son of a landowning farmer to a penniless refugee in a blue tent provided by the United Nations in Gaza. America viagra Thus, america viagra his life of hunger, america viagra pain, america viagra homelessness, america viagra freedom-fighting, america viagra love, america viagra marriage and loss commenced. The fact that he was the one chosen to quit school to help his father provide for his now tent-dwelling family was a huge source of stress for him. America viagra In a strange, america viagra unfamiliar land, america viagra his new role was going into neighbouring villages and refugee camps to sell gum, america viagra aspirin and other small items. America viagra His legs were a testament to the many dog bites he obtained during these daily journeys. America viagra Later scars were from the shrapnel he acquired through war. As a young man and soldier in the Palestinian unit of the Egyptian army, america viagra he spent years of his life marching through the Sinai desert. America viagra When the Israeli army took over Gaza following the Arab defeat in 1967, america viagra the Israeli commander met with those who served as police officers under Egyptian rule and offered them the chance to continue their services under Israeli rule. America viagra Proudly and willingly, america viagra my young father chose abject poverty over working under the occupier’s flag. America viagra And for that, america viagra predictably, america viagra he paid a heavy price. America viagra His two-year-old son died soon after. My oldest brother is buried in the same graveyard that bordered my father’s house in the camp. America viagra My father, america viagra who couldn’t cope with the thought that his only son died because he couldn’t afford to buy medicine or food, america viagra would be found asleep near the tiny grave all night, america viagra or placing coins and candy in and around it. My father’s reputation as an intellectual, america viagra his obsession with Russian literature, america viagra and his endless support of fellow refugees brought him untold trouble with the Israeli authorities, america viagra who retaliated by denying him the right to leave Gaza. America viagra His severe asthma, america viagra which he developed as a teenager was compounded by lack of adequate medical facilities. America viagra Yet, america viagra despite daily coughing streaks and constantly gasping for breath, america viagra he relentlessly negotiated his way through life for the sake of his family. America viagra On one hand, america viagra he refused to work as a cheap labourer in Israel. America viagra “Life itself is not worth a shred of one’s dignity, america viagra” he insisted. America viagra On the other, america viagra with all borders sealed except that with Israel, america viagra he still needed a way to bring in an income. America viagra He would buy cheap clothes, america viagra shoes, america viagra used TVs, america viagra and other miscellaneous goods, america viagra and find a way to transport and sell them in the camp. America viagra He invested everything he made to ensure that his sons and daughter could receive a good education, america viagra an arduous mission in a place like Gaza. But when the Palestinian uprising of 1987 exploded, america viagra and our camp became a battleground between stone-throwers and the Israeli army, america viagra mere survival became Dad’s new obsession. America viagra Our house was the closest to the Red Square, america viagra arbitrarily named for the blood spilled there, america viagra and also bordered the ‘Martyrs’ Graveyard’. America viagra How can a father adequately protect his family in such surroundings? Israeli soldiers stormed our house hundreds of times; it was always him who somehow held them back, america viagra begging for his children’s safety, america viagra as we huddled in a dark room awaiting our fate. America viagra “You will understand when you have your own children, america viagra” he told my older brothers as they protested his allowing the soldiers to slap his face. America viagra Our ‘freedom-fighting’ dad struggled to explain how love for his children could surpass his own pride. America viagra He grew in my eyes that day. It’s been fourteen years since I last saw my father. America viagra As none of his children had access to isolated Gaza, america viagra he was left alone to fend for himself. America viagra We tried to help as much as we could, america viagra but what use is money without access to medicine? In our last talk he said he feared he would die before seeing my children, america viagra but I promised that I would find a way. America viagra I failed. Since the siege on Gaza, america viagra my father’s life became impossible. America viagra His ailments were not ‘serious’ enough for hospitals crowded with limbless youth. America viagra During the most recent Israeli onslaught, america viagra most hospital spaces were converted to surgery wards, america viagra and there was no place for an old man like my dad. America viagra All attempts to transfer him to the better equipped West Bank hospitals failed as Israeli authorities repeatedly denied him the required permit. “I am sick, america viagra son, america viagra I am sick, america viagra” my father cried when I spoke to him two days before his death. America viagra He died alone on March 18, america viagra waiting to be reunited with my brothers in the West Bank. America viagra He died a refugee, america viagra but a proud man nonetheless. My father’s struggle began 60 years ago, america viagra and it ended a few days ago. America viagra Thousands of people descended to his funeral from throughout Gaza, america viagra oppressed people that shared his plight, america viagra hopes and struggles, america viagra accompanying him to the graveyard where he was laid to rest. America viagra Even a resilient fighter deserves a moment of peace. -Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. America viagra His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. America viagra His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, america viagra London).