I've never really noticed these dates, as they passed year after year, but today a thought went through me like it never did before, as I watched a program about the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, I suddenly remembered both my paternal grandparents, who passed away in the early 1990s, I've never really been interested in knowing their stories, how they lived before 1948, weird enough though, I knew their story after '48, and how my grandfather, walked with his small family away from Haifa on one summer day in 1948, and never went back. I know that my father was born on the beach and had his first bath in the Mediterranean, and I know that he carried his infant brother as they left their home.
I've never really sat and thought about the man who was my grandfather, but now it's only appropriate to remember the man, who despite all the troubles he lived, maintained a mysterious kind of patience, he never complained. I was in my teens when he passed away, and I wasn't really interested in asking him the questions I wanted to be answered now, How was it..having an ancestral homeland? what was it like to lose the house you were born in?
I remember my grandmother, that green-eyed woman, who despite her reaching her mid 80s, looked like a little girl, with her innocent smile, she used to comb her hair into two pigtails, and although the long dark nights made it grey, she remained the beautiful girl who lived on Mount Carmel, over looking the wide open sea, despite the time and space between them.
One of the most enduring things I remember about my grandfather was his gaze; he had that amazing gaze, one of determination..I was always amazed how this old man managed to walk for hours every day, even days before he passed away, he liked his strolls, and I was stupid enough to never walk with him even once, but he always brought me sandwiches on his way back, falafel tasted different when my grandfather brought it, it might have been blessed by God through the fingertips of that dark old man, with a white beard, and a white head-dress, I always wondered why he was dark, but later I knew that he loved to be in the sun, he was a man of open space, never liked the indoors.
I never got to say goodbye to my grandfather..I wish I did, and today, as I haphazardly mark an occasion of displacement, I remember the beautiful green eyes of Thuraya, that little girl who happened to be old enough to be my grandmother, and her Rock; Mahmoud, the kind old man, to whom both I recite a prayer, and ask for their forgiveness.