The Grating Key to Eternal Bliss

Nablus, West Bank

She was grateful.

A big mountain rose above her, and behind it, one settled by good God-fearing people. The road leading there had been a rather bumpy one; it was infested by apostates. The lights of the city stretching between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim shone, at times, like the bling on a bedazzled wedding dress and, at others, like the will-o’-the-wisp winking in graveyards at night. The clouds were the color of tears and blood, like the ones that had been shed by the people on the ground in their fight to preserve their country and cultural identity. She had been feeling lost and alone for a long time, but now, she had finally managed to return back home.

She was grateful.

The day was lit up with hope, the sort that made her eyes all watery. She was a senior at university and appreciated all academia had done to expand her horizons without keeping her from staying true to her roots, but she had missed that red city where she had taken her first steps into the big topsy-turvy world. She ...Read more

Foundered Reality

Sheep in Gaza, Palestine

The power was off and the night was cold and moonless. Silence prevailed; only the sobs of children and the whistle of bullets being fired in every direction dared to punctuate it. The Angel of Death had decided to sojourn in our town for an indefinite period of time and it seemed he had only just started making himself comfortable among us. We lit some candles and formed a circle around them. Our eyes were fastened on their faint glimmer. It was the only thing we felt we could derive a feeling of safety from and we sucked on it like unweaned babies.

I didn’t understand how some had managed to fall asleep knowing that they very well might not wake up again in the morning. I switched on my portable radio, which had seen better days, and gently, started turning the tuning knob in hopes of receiving a signal, preferably a God-sent and auspicious one. I couldn’t afford to be picky, though, for my old radio was hardly in a cooperative mood. The awful screeches it emitted told me ...Read more

Shijaiyeh Neighborhood District

Family running away in Gaza

“Good morning, viewers from all over the nation! I hope you’re having a wonderful day!

“Before I start today’s show, I would like to take some time to go over the score and probe into how the havoc wreaked last night has taken its toll on us, in order to allow what makes us feel like going to pieces as we collect the dismembered corpses of our loved ones to henceforth rest in the past.

“First, we will dig a mass grave, a grave that we won’t be able to dig big enough to hold them all. We’ll bury them, pray, and chant. But our loved ones won’t stay buried for long. Instead, they’ll want to stick around and will stalk us, baying for blood.

“Coming to work this morning, out of respect for the deceased, I had to toe walk in order to avoid treading on a patch of pavement where the body of a child might have been scooped up a moment before. I lowered my head and tried to avoid meeting the carnage with my eyes. Those ...Read more

Aim for the Moon

Acre, Israel

The diaspora of my people began in 1948. The story of the ordeal I was subjected to when forced to abandon my home dates back to the same year. I was sitting with my children around the hearth while sipping tea to warm up when someone banged on the door so fiercely that for a moment I thought they were intent on busting it down. My wife and children hid further inside the house and I opened the door. In front of me stood a group of Israeli soldiers. Even before I could ask what I owed the pleasure of their visit to, one of the soldiers instructed me in Arabic to evacuate the house. My heart skipped a beat. What would I tell my kids? Where were we supposed to go?

I apprised my wife of what had happened and she started crying. So I did the only thing I could at the moment. I patted her on the shoulder and comforted her. “Have faith in God and be patient, for one day we will return.”

We weren’t given enough time ...Read more

The Olives and the Strangers

Al-Aqsa: The mosque of the rock in Jerusalem

He let his worn-out body keel over onto the cold mattress and placed his hands behind his head before looking up at the ceiling with its flaking paint. A pang of sorrow darted across his eyes. It belonged to the same swarm of tribulations that had already been gnawing at him for quite some time. In order to ascertain the source of his distress, he decided to travel with his mind back to when he was just a child.

He had woken up early that morning. From the moment he stood up, he had felt an evil omen wring his heart. However, at that time, he had chosen to ignore it. Instead, he had gone out into the street; he had been intent on playing with his friends. Yet his feet seemed to be on a strike, unwilling to carry out his commands. He watched the other kids for a while as they ran and laughed. Afterward, he decided to head for the river, which had been talking to him in his dreams lately. He ...Read more

Choose your own adventure

I learned just lately that green and black olives grow from the same tree. Apparently, the color of the olive is contingent on

a) how ripe it is when picked, in addition to the curing process it undergoes.

b) the proportion of affection towards the familiar to hatred towards the stranger that gets to be used to water the soil of the olive tree it grows from.