It’s been slightly more than a week since I cycled 4Gaza and I still dream of riding bicycles.
For three days we endured on our metal steeds, our helmets: visor less, our banners: Palestinian flags. Through rain, cold winds, and lush green fields, through wet asphalt roads, warm cozy neighbourhoods, and busy highways, we pedaled. It wasn’t in Gaza; but it was Gaza on our minds.
It’s been slightly more than a year since the attack on Gaza, and its children still have nightmares.
The last leg of the ride was a straight 45 km cycle from Gouda to The Hague. It was raining and the temperatures dropped below usual winter temperatures for most of the cyclers who were there from The Arabian Gulf. We didn’t have jackets on us, for we started out sunny that day. Soon enough we ran out of snacks, most ran out of water. How we felt was not important anymore. We had transpired beyond our physicality and into something grander. Read the rest of this entry
My grandmother and grandfather were half paternal cousins. On the day of my grandmother’s birth, her father sent a letter to my grandfather, Ismael, his half nephew informing him that he has been blessed with the birth of a baby girl whom he named Mariam. Ismael responded saying that he is to marry her when she comes of age and 14 years later they wed.
On the wedding day, Mariam was raised on a horse as was accustomed in 1930s Palestine, to be taken to the house of her husband. That tradition of a new bride riding a horse came with a certain condition – if any of her male cousins, upon seeing their cousin all adorned to be taken to her groom, decided in that instant that he wants her for himself, he can claim her and she would be taken off the horse; Read the rest of this entry
I remember walking into my grandma’s, in the hot summers of Lebanon and find her sitting on her grey couch that resembles her grey outlook on her grey life, courtesy of a deceased husband leaving her in poverty, with 9 kids. Her nightgown would be drenched with sweat, uncomfortably stuck to her back, for lack of electricity. It has been out for a few hours and will not return for a more. She would spend the good part of the morning cleaning, cooking, complaining, cursing.
When I would visit I would find her seated in such a way indicating that she was about to get up, her limbs furthest apart from each other to minimize skin contact. She would be waiting for the noon call to prayer, sweat beads on her brow, rosary beads in her hand; mentioning God giving her patience.
As I walk in and kiss her forehead, I would ask how she is, and before the words would part my lips, almost expectedly and she would sharply reply “mkayfe!” – entertained
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The Day My Palestine Died
My grandparents were born in Palestine. All four of them. They lived there, got married there and had children there. They lived through the British Mandate of the region, revolted on it, got beaten down, witnessed the migration of Jews, saw the Jews revolt on the British Mandate, saw the British Mandate allowing it to happen and then withdrawing from Palestine. It was too theatrical to be considered a coincidence.
They never ceased talking about it though. Throughout their lives, Palestine was always on their minds. They would talk like they left yesterday, and that they will return tomorrow. I would hear them always say “May God return us to our homeland in peace.” Read the rest of this entry