Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mom Remembers the First Intifada (1987-1993)

Me: What is the name of the 7ara (neighnorhood) where we had the taxi office and grocery store?
Mom: I don't know... Shit Hole Anonymous
Me: (laughing) you really don't know?
Mom: How the fuck am I supposed to know?
Me: Ok, moving on...

Me: What do you remember about the first Intifada?
Mom: The Taxi office and the grocery store were located on the street that leads to The Jabal Al Taweel settlement. At the time it was the only road the lead to the settlement and whenever the settlers would pass by the kids would start throwing rocks, and then the Israeli soldiers would come and start shooting live ammunition. It sucked.

Mom: I remember when the guys would write graffiti on the walls and then the Israeli soldier would come and make us paint it. We used to use shoe polish to cover it up. Pain in the ass. Fuckers.
Me: Why did you have to do it?
Mom: Well, because it was right next to our store.

Mom: One time when I was working at the store the Israeli soldiers threw sound bombs and I couldn't hear for three damn days.

Mom: Oh lord... Amin (my brother who was a teenager at the time) is the one that gave me gray hair. He used to lie all the time. He used to come home all dirty and sweaty and I knew it was because he was throwing rocks, but he would say he was playing soccer.

Mom: I remember once they (the Israeli soldiers) shot my dog. I forgot her name.
Me: Why did they shoot her?
Mom: They said because she kept barking, but I told them she keeps barking because YOU keep walking around. That night I stood in front of the dog and told them that if you want to shoot the dog you have to shoot me first, and then they left. But the next night they came back and shot her right in the head. I then complained to the 7akam el 3askari and he offered me a German Shepherd puppy, but I refused. I told him that I didn't want a new fucking dog, I wanted mine.

Mom: I remember when Hamed's son killed a settler on shar3 Nablus... Amin and his friends went running to see what happened. I was so worried about Amin I ran after him and jumped over the fence... can you imagine me jumping over a fence? your dad followed me and when we got to the korba 3ind el Shinny supermarket the Israeli soldiers were aiming the guns at Amin and he was lying flat on his chest, I got scared I thought they killed him and I started yelling at the Israeli soldiers telling them 'you killed my son!', Amin then got up, and I realized he was still alive and I started beating him for doing that to me.

Me: Tell me about the time Amin got arrested.
Mom: Oh, that was the worst. Three Israeli jeeps came to our store asking for your dad, Mamoun Husain. I told them he wasn't here. They then said, we will take your son and when your husband comes send him to the police station. I said ok... god I felt so stupid, they fooled me... They wanted Amin, not your dad, but they knew if they said that I would have made a scene and we were right next to the kahwa... they didn't want trouble! So, when your dad came I told him to go immediately to the police station and salem 7alak, I didn't care I just wanted Amin back. But, when your dad went there they refused to release him... When your dad saw Amin in handcuffs he started crying. Your dad went there every day for three days trying to get Amin out. They kept him in a tent and tortured the hell out of him to make him sign the confession papers but he refused.
Me: What did he do?
Mom: Him and his friends were throwing Molotov cocktails at the police station by the Friends School. Anyway, they finally let him out and we had to pay 2500 NIS bond which we never saw again. But his friend stayed in prison for 6 months because he signed the confession papers and his dad wouldn't pay the bond.

Me: What did you think when the sulta (Palestinian Authority) came?
Mom: It all just got worse. I remember when Arafat drove around in his car waving to everyone. I wouldn't come out of the store because I thought it was bullshit. I told everyone 'when el yahoodi bdrobak chaf booj3ak wait until your own people bodrobak chaf'.


My mom, Fatmah Salman was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. She is the daughter of a Palestinian man and a Syrian woman. She moved to Palestine in 1978 to raise her family.

Monday, 12 December 2011

As She Waits For Her Plane

Mom: People liked your dad. They didn't like me, but they liked your dad. He always had kelma mnee7a for them, and he used to always smile.
Me: Yeah, I remember.
Mom: I used to always yell at the fucking sh7ad when he would ask for money... "mish darory ta3teehom masaree, bs ma fish da3i tkoni mish mnee7a" that's what he used to always tell me.

Mom: I remember before your dad died I was looking at him while he was sleeping, and I was trying to think of all the bad things that happened between us over the years. I was trying to think of them so I could get mad at him and not feel so bad, but I couldn't think of anything. It all seemed so trivial.

Mom: You guys all turned out tough. I am proud of you.
Me: You think so?
Mom: Oh yeah! Especially you! You always fool people; they think that you are the sweet soft spoken one, they have no idea what you are capable of when you get going!
Me: Yeah, I usually get like that when I have no doubt in me that the person is just an asshole.
Mom: Sometimes you don't have to wait that long to find out. Don't put up with people's shit. I never knew how to stay quiet.

Me: You know, I keep thinking about our house back home.
Mom: yeah.
Me: I keep thinking how it used to be so full. So many people lived there and we had so many pets and now nothing is left there. No one lives there anymore, not even our pets. It's kinda sad.

Mom: I can't believe I'm a widow now. It sounds so weird saying it.
Me: You don't have to say it mom. It's just a word. You can call yourself whatever you want.
Mom: Yeah, I don't wanna be a widow. Being a widow sucks.

Me: I think dad didn't want to do chemo because he knew it wouldn't have prolonged his life or at least it wouldn't have given him 'quality' life. I think he did it for us, he didn't want us to suffer more.

Mom: Your dad was so happy during the last few months he was in the states. He told me so himself. He loved being involved and in control of your lives again. You know how your dad is, you all remained his babies. He is not like me, I couldn't give a shit what you guys do (laugh).
Me: You're mean.
Mom: Oh, come on... you know I love you. I'm just not like that. You are old enough to make the right decision.
Me: I know, but it's still nice to feel like you care. Dad used to contain me. He really put my life together during his last months here.

Me: I remember when I spent the night with dad at the hospital when the doctors were adjusting his pain medication. We spent most of the night arguing. He would get upset every time I woke up when I heard him cough. He was worried I wouldn't get enough sleep for work. Then we would argue about who gets the blanket. He insisted I cover up with two blankets although I was not cold, he was worried I would get sick. It's amazing to me that someone could be in such excruciating pain and still worry so much about the other person. I guess that's what it means to be a father.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Its Been Five Days

I'm wearing your watch dad... The one I bought you. You said it was the best watch you ever had. It still smells like you; sometimes if I close my eyes and smell it I can imagine you are still here. I also found your cooking recipes the ones you wrote down when you would watch cooking shows back home in Palestine. I promise I will learn how to cook a decent meal soon. I wish I paid more attention when you tried to teach me.

It's hard to believe you're gone, I can't imagine not being able to hear your voice again or calling you whenever I need help. Nitasha came over yesterday and said, " You know, when I come into your apartment now, it feels like nothing ever happened" and I agreed with her, it does feel that way, but I find that even more disturbing, because something did happen here. I am having a hard time making sense out this dad. I know you said you will keep loving me wherever you are, but it's not the same and I really miss you.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Inappropriately Appropriate

Mom: Who did you love more, me or your dad?
Me: I love you both the same. You are both special to me.
Mom: Whatever, the dead one always wins.

Mom: (Talking to my aunt and uncle after my dad died) Well, you guys are just dropping off like flies. I wonder which one of you will be next? (awkward silence).

Friend: How's your mom handling everything?
Summer: She is ok, but no matter what it's different for her. We knew the father, she knew the man himself.

Mom: I really did love your dad. He was my best friend. Yeah, he was an asshole sometimes. But I know he loved me too.

Me: You know it's amazing that dad died and was able to leave so much love and positive energy between all of us. He really knew what he was doing.

Me: What are you thinking about?
Mom: Your dad. I keep thinking about him with his cigarette in his hand with one leg over the other. It's hard to believe he is no longer here. I keep going over things, wondering if I did anything wrong.
Me: You can't think like that mom, he loved us. That's all that matters in the end.

Me: I thought this would be so much harder. But I feel his energy and his love and it's giving me so much strength.

Mom: I just talked to your aunt today back in Palestine and she says that a lot of people came to your dad's funeral. She said that everyone was really sad and kept talking about what a great man he was. That made me so happy, he would have liked that.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Mom Talks about Dad and Other Things

Mom: You know, your dad told me that when he dies he wants me to have fun.
Me: *nodding my head* Thinking, 'of course that is what my dad would say he is just so freaking awesome like that'.
Mom: He really said that... I was still back home at the time and we were talking on the phone. He said he wants me to have fun... but you know what I told him? I told him that if he wanted me to have fun then he should have died when I was 20! Not now when I am 60 and I don't have the energy to do anything!
Me: (laughing) you really said that?
Mom: Yeah, I still didn't think he was going to die then... I just didn't believe it.
Me: I know... none of us wanted to believe it.

Mom: I don't care what you all say... your dad had a fucking good life. So you just need to stop being sad. We're all gonna die.

Mom: I always said your dad was a shitty husband but a good father. He loved you guys more than anything. God, it used to make me sick how much he loved you guys.

Mom: The only time your dad was happy and relaxed is when you guys were all home and the door was locked.

Mom: You know, they say that when one spouse dies the other shortly follows. God, I hope I am not next.
Me: (laughing) mom, I think you are thinking of the film The Note Book. Don't worry, I don't think you are going anywhere any time soon.
Mom: I better not. I am not done living yet.

Mom: Shit man I hope when I die it's quick. They say that when you die of a heart attack that it's fucking painful, but at least it's for a short amount of time and then you're dead.
Me: Yeah mom, this is exactly the conversation I wanna be having right now.
Mom: *Chuckles* Well, I'm just saying.