Our Games Can’t Take Up Space
By Samar Shaaban, Ismail Zaaroura and Khodr Attiyeh

Sukkar, Mukkar la la la
Let’s eat drink la la la
I put my hand on the stove
I saw my dad and the minister
Going hunting for birds
Damn you Mr. Minister
How you love birds
Sukkar Mukkar la la la

We repeat this game dozens of times a day along with the “cow game” and the “fast grain” and the “couch.” These are games we inherited from our parents, and they sometimes help us let off steam and forget our sense of deprivation at not having anywhere to play in Shatila. After the arrival in the camp of Palestinians who had been living in apartment buildings in Raouche and the arrival of Syrians, the camp became congested with people. We had no place left to play.

Before 1992 there were four playgrounds in the camp, now there’s only one. This one has recently been taken over by Syrians soldiers who use it as a training ground. We are prevented from entering it unless we get permissions from the Syrians who sometimes throw us out in the middle of a game. So we are left with the alleyways and rooftops.
But who ever said that we can play in the alleys? Most of the time we have hardly started one game when the curses started to pour down on us” You naughty children! You haven’t been brought up properly! Where are your parents? Go play at home!” We even get kicked out of the alleys. The lucky ones go and play on their balconies at home- that is if they happen to be boys. The presence of “characters of all kinds” in the camp prevents the girls from standing in the balcony. As soon as a girl so much as appears, a whole crowd of young men lines up in the alley below. The camp dwellers start to gossip about her and her parents force her to stay indoors where there are no games or toys to pass the time with. That’s how girls are left with mopping, sweeping and ironing, and waiting for a God send, like a bridegroom to release her from prison. Is that just?