Thursday, 28 June 2012

I Am Neveen

I am Neveen. I am Palestinian.This is my sto­­ry. This is the Palestinian Story.
I'd like to take you back to 64 years ago, to the fertile rolling hills of Palestine.
To the land of orange, lemon and olive trees, to around mid May1948.

My Grandmother, heavily pregnant quickly picks 2 or 3 oranges. She hastily feeds the chooks, cuts homemade cheese taken from brine and spoons out salted olives from a large clay pot .She packs red, ripe tomatoes and bread.

Her father rushes to hurry her & help with the children and Grandmother locks the wooden door placing the key in her clothing for her return.
They leave scared, but certain they will return soon.

She walked and walked travelling a long journey to safety. She gave birth along the way, to my Uncle, her third child.
Fear, cold, hunger, thirst and the ghost of death, were their companions, in fact they would be for many years to come
She did not return within weeks as she had thought. Nor would 900,000 others who are now called Palestinian refugees.

My family would make their difficult way across unknown lands, living in large camps, and finally settle in Yarmouk Camp, Syria in the early 1950's.
Here I was born. The culture from the past is still touchable for me.

I was born with Palestinian culture around me and with a Palestinian accent. The sound of a grandmothers voice singing Palestinian songs passes through my ears. My sisters and me are part of a larger family.

I enjoy eating msakhan, one of our special Palestinian dishes - a lot of onion with chicken and spices. I smell it with joy as I enter our narrow alley. My family and I share similar foods from the past. We sit closely together on a carpet in a circle eating Arabic and Palestinian food.
Cheese in brine, salted olives, hummus, red ripe tomatoes, salad, oranges and lemons. We love sweets of hot Knafah and Arabic pastry.

I love watching my Grandmother  moving with her beautiful black dress embroidered with red & green  cross stitches.
"We used to have other colours and stitches, each for every occasion, every town had its own",  she would tell me and her eyes would glitter with pride.
I enjoy our simple life gathering on the floor with all my family around me.
I love spending some evenings listening to my Grandmother’s story. We spend other evenings listening to our favorite poet Mahmoud Darwish and the famous oud player Marcel Khalifah .

Sometimes we go out to visit our family .We drink tea and share food. Men gather playing dice and cards. The women settled in another corner, talking, laughing. I love to sit with my sisters and my cousins laughing and chatting.
We dance the dabka and share each other's celebrations.

When one day I marry, I would like to gather with the women as my Grandmother did. In the Bride’s home, singing amazing traditional and poetic songs. Placing henna on our hands and wearing the traditional embroidered clothes.

Today, when I walk in the streets of the camp, I sense sadness and despair in elderly people's eyes, but when I go quietly onto our roof top, although I see pollution I can still see a blossom on a tree, oddly planted in a drum filled with soil.

That blossom will be an orange one day .

1 comment:

Sanaa said...

Deep. My imagination tried to picture the scene as I read.