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English Translation of an Excerpt of Rabai’ Al- Madhoun’s Novel “The Lady Is From Tel Aviv” ترجمة قطعة من رواية ربعي المدهون السيدة من تل أبيب

Literary, Translations, Uncategorized

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Walid Dahman’s Story

Tomorrow morning Walid Dahman arrives in the Gaza Strip. His mother does not believe the news, considers it a rumor, a myth, just like the Palestinians’ return to their land.

Every morning she asks,”I wonder if my son will return, if I’ll see him before I die so I can tell him all that I’ve kept from him and he can tell me all I haven’t heard”. She’s been asking that question over and over again for 38 years. She listens carefully to the whispers of the wind and the echo of the question. She gathers her disappointment and folds it with the bedsheets. And in the evening, she goes to bed with the disappointment and wakes to the question. When Walid called her, she almost heard his voice in London, “I’m coming to Gaza… I’m coming back home”. She didn’t believe him. She became fevered and trembled at the surprise,”What would bring you back after being away for so long?”.

Walid arrives at around nine. His visit is no longer an idea or merely a possibility. He had bought a ticket to Tel Aviv, picked his time of arrival so he could be at his mother’s at that exact time so that they could have breakfast together. He said she’d been preparing it for 38 years and it is time to have that meal.

He carried his big suitcase, hung a smaller bag on his left shoulder, put his British passport in the his shirt pocket, right where his heart is. He closed the door behind him and left.

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Excerpt from Radwa Ashour’s “The Woman from Tantoura” Translated Into English ترجمة فقرة من “الطنطورية” لرضوى عاشور

Literary, Translations, Uncategorized

الطنطورية excerpt from "The woman from Tantoura"

What do I do with that kiss? Where do I go with it? I’ll forget it ever happened. I’ll lose it on purpose and it’ll get lost. I went to Wissal, sought refuge in her as she, her mother and little brother had on that day long ago sought refuge in us. I hid behind her. I concentrated on her voice. It sounded strong and painstakingly close. Who says telephones allow us to connect? They don’t. They only affirm the distance by forcing you to come face to face with what you know, like the edge of a knife on your skin feels for the nerve, rips apart your warm skin and strikes. Her voice came to me close and clear and I was on the other side. We were like two women separated by glass, the barrier separating a prisoner from his visitor. More precisely: glass separating a prisoner from a prisoner. Even so, I’ll get ready. I’ll talk to her like she talked to me. I’ll swallow the lump in my throat, suppress the chill and the well of tears. Tomorrow.

Nedal Kersh of Falafelbaren

Falafelbaren: Stockholm’s First and Only Falafel Bar

BarakaBits

Since 2013, Nidal Kersh and his partner, Jenny Hedström, have been running Falafelbaren, “Stockholm’s first and only falafel bar”. In a short period of time, the small business has become very successful.

However, things weren’t always that easy. When Kersh first started, he used to peddle around Sweden’s streets on his tricycle, serving Falafel, made using a recipe he got from his uncle in Palestine. He says his decision to sell falafel is probably due to his heritage and the fact that his father is the owner of Sweden’s first fresh hummus factory.

The couple opened the store because they “wanted to sell falafel as it’s done in the Middle East-fried on order”. Two years into the business, Falafelbaren continues to serve fresh, crunchy falafel to Swedes who love it.

To read the full article: click here and follow Falafelbaren on Facebook.

This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 28/08/2015.

WATCH: Leila Abdul Razzaq’s Graphic Novel “Baddawi”

BarakaBits

In this video by Judy Suh, we hear from Palestinian-American artist, Leila Abdul Razzaq, as she discusses her graphic novel “Baddawi’.

Last April, Leila Abdul Razzaq published her graphic novel, “Baddawi”, a story about her father growing up as a refugee in Baddawi, a refugee camp in Northern Lebanon. Like so many Palestinians, Leila’s family was forced to leave their town of Safsaf in Palestine in 1948 and find refuge in Lebanon, where her father spent his childhood before moving to the United States.

Although stories such as that of Ahmad, Leila’s father and main character in “Baddawi” are common among Palestinians in the diaspora, Leila explains that they are not as known to others which is why “Baddawi” is catered to a western audience.  She says, “People who are experiencing these adverse circumstances, they’re not objects of pity; they’re subjects of their own narrative”. She goes on to explain that she is not telling this story “because it’s unique but that it’s one that was lived and is being lived by Palestinian refugees.”

“Baddawi” has been shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards.

To order your copy of Baddawi click here. You can also follow Baddawi on Facebook.

This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 06/09/2015.

Read and Change Your Life

Essays

Abu Ismail Masri grew up in Nablus, Palestine and had two sons and two daughters; he died of illness a few weeks after he returned home from training to fight with the Turks, when the younger of his two sons, Omar Suleiman Masri, was seven years old. His wife, Amina Bakir, used to sing, in the presence of her granddaughter, “ya ghazalleh kaif aani abaadook?” which translates into “Oh dear (literally, gazelle), how did they keep me away from you?” Amina Bakir, died at the age of 85, but according to her granddaughter, I’timiad, she cried over the loss of her husband every day until the day she died. She worked in many fields to support her four dependent children; she dyed fabrics, sewed, cooked, and she also learned to read on her own, for her own satisfaction. During that day in Nablus, people made a living doing mundane things, such as sewing dresses and making Knafeh (a traditional Nabulsi sweet); they lived a simple life. But a simple life is not one that Omar would be blessed with.

It’s the first day of Eid al Fitr; I accompany my father and grandmother to visit my father’s aunt’s husband, Abo Moeen. I enter their apartment on the third floor of a middle-aged building in Amman. I am introduced as Kamal’s daughter. Abo Moeen asks me what my name is and I reply, “Dima.” To that he responds,”deematon samhato alqiyadi sakoobo yastagheeth biha althary al makroob” a verse from a poem by Abu Tammam from the Abbasid era, describing dima (which means a raining cloud) as a blessing that answers the call of the thirsty soil for rain.

Abu Moeen, as Omar is now called, is taken care of by his daughter, I’timad. He turned 100 years old this year; his eyes turned blue from old age, and his memory remains as strong as it was when he was as young as his great granddaughter. He has hundreds of books in his library, which is an empty bedroom with old marble floor except for floor-to ceiling dark brown shelves covering one of the walls, with topics ranging from poetry to history to traditional ululating‏ in Palestine, and still hundreds more packed in cardboard boxes from the time he left home. Tell him your name as I did, and he’ll recite a verse from a poem about it. Abo Moeen has the gift of knowledge and wisdom I hope to grow old and acquire; I believe he has gained much of his insight from reading.

As a young child Omar was kicked out of school for being mischievous but always carried a book he was reading in the back pocket of his pants. As Abo Moeen tells me, people of the town would see him as he passed by and say, “There goes the kid who taught himself on his own.” His older brother took hold of the family business of importing tobacco, and he put his young brother in charge of the dirty, risky work of getting the goods while he gambled away the family money. Abo Moeen continues to tell me that one night, while he was climbing one of the mountains to get the illegally imported tobacco in, he got caught, and at sixteen years of age was sent to prison. He remained a day and was let out, back to his books. His love of learning that he had perhaps inherited from his mother helped him overcome the challenges in his life.

I ask him for a book that would tell me more about the history of Palestine and the conflict with Israel. He lists names of authors and books I have never heard of. His daughter takes me to the library to pick out a book on Palestine. I pick one called “Palestine its history and struggles” by Najib Al Ahmed. He asks me which book I had chosen I repeat the name multiple times, for he has poor hearing. Once he had registered what I had said, he boldly accuses the author of being a liar. I asked him why, my laugh clear in my voice, he retorts, “They’re all liars and betrayers. History is always written from the winner’s point of view.” I didn’t want to read the book anymore, I wanted facts about what had really happened, when I expressed this to him he replied by saying, “No read it, read it and see for yourself what you think of it,” teaching me not to take everything I hear for granted, but rather to decide for myself.

During another visit to Abo Moeen’s house the theme of his talk was the importance of knowledge and the insignificance of your name to who you are. He kept repeating a verse from a peom by Ali bin Abi Taleb in between stories to emphasize what he means by, “kon ibna man sheata wa iktasib adaba,” which roughly translates into, “Be whoever’s son you want and gain literature (knowledge).” In a society where much of who you are and who you become depends on your family name and their place in that society, Abo Moeen sees the true meaning of the self; it is not how much money you have, the name given to you by your parents, or the clothes you wear, it is you, your thirst for knowledge, for truth, and living up to your potential.

Maybe it was that books took Omar to a different life that made him fall in love with reading; it would take his mind off a life without a father, and no real guidance. Maybe books were his only teachers and that is why he held onto them so tightly. In his teens he was kicked out of school but not off the desk of the eternal student. As the years went by he got married, left his wife and kids, came back to them, worked as a tailor, left his work, moved to Jordan, books were the only thing that remained by his side, always.