It was 7 am, the morning after my wedding party that I was awakened by my father’s call. He called straight to the hotel room, and I regretted not notifying the reception of not transferring any calls, but I never expected anyone to actually call. My new wife and I retired to our suite around 1 am, and we were in bed within the hour in order to catch a morning flight out to our honeymoon destination. We put our mobile phones on silent, and the thought that anybody would have the audacity to call never crossed our celebratory simple minds. Nevertheless, it was 7 am and I found myself talking to my father.
My voice was coarse, my ears were ringing from the night of loud music, my head was thumping, partly due to lack of sleep. My father seemed happy when I answered and asked right away “Shoo Baba? Did you pierce the tambourine?” My wife was stirring next to me and I started throwing random words of greeting. He figured I couldn’t answer his invasive partly humorous question and went to the core of the reason he called.
“We enjoyed your wedding, but there were some things we didn’t like, I will tell you about them once you return from your honeymoon. Don’t worry about it much, we shall speak once you return. Have a safe trip and enjoy your time. Your mother wants to speak to you.”
I imagined I would wake up in the vast honeymoon suite with my tender bride by my side. The first morning I ever wake up to a female; we would cuddle in bed for a while, then find our way to the dining room where a complimentary royal breakfast would await us. We’ll chatter the morning away about our wedding and how excited we were about what’s coming up in our lives. We’d finish off our packing to the honeymoon and take a taxi to the airport.
My mother took the receiver, echoed my father’s words Read the rest of this entry
Every Friday morning, I like to take my daughter out to the park. Some much-needed father-daughter alone time after a busy working week.
Over the course of several park visits, and diligent observations on my part, I have come to realize an interesting routine.
In the early hours of the morning, the park would consist mostly of blue-eyed, fair-haired children, accompanied by both their parents. A relative calm seizes the park, mixed with quiet laughter here and there, and the occasional birds chirping.
A father will play a game of cricket with his son (with the occasional “Nicely done Mikey,”), as a mother calmly tells her daughter to pick herself up after a fall.
Everybody is minding their own business except for myself, subtly keeping one curious eye on my surroundings and taking mental notes, while another caring eye follows my playful daughter.
There was an unsaid understanding amongst the visitors of the park that these were public grounds used equally by all.
A Lebanese family makes an entrance at around 10:30 am. They would come eating their ‘za’atar’ or cheese ‘mana’eesh’, speaking their French-like Arabic Read the rest of this entry
Although my grandfather suffered a hemorrhage that left half his body paralyzed and deteriorated his eye sight, well into his 80s, his memory of Palestine was intact; and that was the only link I had of Palestine.
He used to say that Palestine’s fruit was the orange. Now the rich juicy fruit of Palestine became a sour pickled fruit that is the prime reason for broken teeth in the region.
To him, it was his Eden, but to me, it was Narnia.
He always reminded us never to forget Palestine, but how can I forget what I didn’t know? Other than the statistics on the daily news, and my mother’s tears every odd year, what was there?
I struggled to relate to my grandfather’s stories of sweet oranges, freshly brewed coffee, the barber who was the doctor, the farmlands, his swollen feet of walking all day, the cold ditch he lay them in under the noon sun, the smell of freshly baked breads, the chattering women who harvested the crops, the vast Mediterranean.
It was impossible to find Palestine in my normal daily afternoons of skirmish to find a parking spot before entering a smoke congested coffee shop with sounds of a European soccer league game on a flat screen amidst the sounds of trump cards banged on the table Read the rest of this entry
I never had a sister, but I can imagine how she would be raised.
She would constantly be reminded that she is beautiful, and would be instructed not to indulge in gossip, and be told not to apply make up on an early age, since that would be shameful.
But she would pick up the habits from her surroundings.
At a certain point she would start focusing on lining her eyebrows, waxing, drawing her lips, and looking pretty.
She would be taught in the art of usool.
She would be implicitly told that her ultimate goal in life was to be bride. Everything she had to do in life had to pour in the matrimonial basin.
She would be told that she is best in the world, better than all other people, and that every man in the world would desire her; a hundred men would wish for you.
Ladies at the sobhiyes would adorn her in white in their eyes. At weddings they would scout her amongst the crowds, and ask “Whose daughter is this?”
Less embarrassing than olden ways when mothers would visit public baths Read the rest of this entry