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In exile, something as small as a button can ignite a hidden wound

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My father -on the right- and I at Gaza beach in the summer on 2013, my last summer in Gaza.

One of my jacket’s buttons fell off today. You might be wondering: “So what? What’s the big deal?” This is not the story. I know people experience their buttons falling off of their clothes the whole time. But for me, this incident opened up a hidden wound that I’ve been struggling to cope with for the past three and a half years.

If I were at home, in Gaza, this button would never fall. You know why? Whenever I bought a new jacket or a shirt with nice buttons on it, my dad would take them and re-sew the buttons tightly, so that there is no chance that I would lose any of them. My dad would do this for all my family members. Given his awareness of my quite extreme clumsiness, he would put extra care in my clothes.

Three years and a half have passed since I saw any of my parents, my heroes. Three years and I’m still counting. This counting hurts, especially considering that Israel and its neighbouring ally Egypt are collaborating to tighten the stranglehold over Gaza, making the reunion with my parents an uncertain issue. My story is one among the thousands of Palestinian families who have been left dispersed due to this brutal siege on Gaza and the ghettoization of the remainder of Palestinian lands by the Israeli colonial occupation.

Skype is now my crouch that I lean on to ease the pain, but Skype doesn’t allow me to touch their skin, or contemplate the new wrinkles that appear on their faces. It stands in the way of feeling the full extent of their unconditional love such that I live on its memory to recharge myself. It doesn’t allow me to show how much I love them, in return. 

My heart jumps when I think of my parents, or when I see or do anything that reminds me of them. I terribly miss their physical presence around me. Despite the distance and the years that have passed away from them, I see them with my eyes closed, and I strongly feel their presence. I think of them for tranquillity, for peace.

My parent, my heroes, my life without you is exile. You will always remain my home. A reunion is bound to come.

4 responses

  1. Made me cry. I am painting a series of Palestinian women based on all I have read, seen and feel. I am a member of Al-Awda San Diego and proudly so. We also have been developing a series of Palestinian murals as part of our project http://www.artmiles.org

    Like

    February 8, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    • Sorry for making your cry. This project sounds amazing! Stay in touch and keep me updated :)

      Like

      February 8, 2017 at 11:39 pm

  2. Alicé

    So beautiful Shahd! Thank you for your profound and powerful words.

    Like

    February 9, 2017 at 9:19 pm

  3. Christian

    Do not be sorry for making Joanne cry, Shahd. Sometimes crying is beautiful. Crying makes us feel human, especially crying for something beautiful.

    Like

    February 10, 2017 at 9:03 pm

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