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news
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01.04.13
Ramallah
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I Fear to Forget

Every victim of a violent crime fears to remember.  Every victim of a violent crime wants to forget.

But in Palestine, I, ‘we’ fear to forget.

I fear to forget the 7owwara checkpoint, that cold winter morning when we were huddled against each other, standing one woman at a time watching our men get body searched as we crossed from one city to the other.  I fear to forget the feel of hail as it rushed sideways slapping our faces. The smell of winter carried on howling winds from the East, as it hit our bodies and sunk into our bones.  Eastern winds bring with them illness, sadness, and ice-cold hail, and that morning they carried humiliation too.

I fear to forget those forgotten behind bars…

I fear to forget the jarring look in his eyes when his own legs failed him and he fell flat on his face in the middle of the road. I fear to forget his face as they collected him like strewn puzzle pieces in a child’s bedroom and dragged him away.  They took him a young boy, a soccer player, kicking a ball in the street, and they brought him back a vampire, hungry for blood, only satisfied by death.  I fear to forget that he sleeps today in peace, his body turned into pink mist and his soul playing soccer in the streets of heaven, if heaven has any streets.

I fear to forget that we are occupied. I fear to forget that I am occupied, my soul, my heart, my head, my house, my street, my city, my country.

I fear to forget that the enemy is behind that wall, not within this wall.

I fear to forget the Palestine trapped behind the wall, the sleeping beauty of this century waiting patiently to be rescued. I fear to forget all the stories a dying generation tells. I fear to forget, for if I forget, my children will never know, and Palestine will forget.

I fear to forget that peace has not come, but the process never ends.

I fear to forget Qalandia in between sips of hot coffee and the aimless chatter of perfectly dressed young men and women. I fear to forget that beyond the cafes, the restaurants, and the expensive lifestyle, Qalandia has suffocated underneath the traffic, the trash, the soldiers, and the expectation to return one day.

I fear to forget Sabra and Shatila…

I fear to forget the endless men murdered, children butchered and women massacred. I fear to forget how a young girl hid in a kitchen cupboard as her mother and sisters were raped and killed. I fear to forget because how can she ever forget? Because no matter how much she tries to not remember, the house remembers, the rooms remember, that kitchen cabinet remembers her young tender body trembling awaiting death in its most savage forms. How can she ever forget what revenge felt like, cold, miserable and ugly. I fear to forget Sabra and Shatila, for if I forget, my children will never know, and Palestine will forget.

For, if I forget, my children will never know

I fear to forget curfews, closed classrooms, broken bones, arrested boys, and I fear to forget the fearless bravery of women in the face of machine guns. I fear to forget the delicate lines on their face, the defying fire in their eyes, and the hope that surrounded them. I fear to forget Palestinian women standing by their men, in the eternal struggle to free Palestine.

I fear to forget, for if I forget, my students will never know and Palestine will forget.

I fear to forget the time when teaching was a crime. I fear to forget my father detained, his students restrained, and their books confiscated. I fear to forget that they [Israel] want us ignorant, uneducated, unread, and unwritten.

I fear to forget Palestine in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Brazil, Chile… I fear to forget the diaspora.

I fear to forget Darwish and Said, their words ambassadors to an entire nation. Their words now, rarely read by the Facebook generation.

I fear to forget that I am a prisoner in my own car, on my country’s roads, between cities, on my campus, in my classroom.

I fear to forget, for if I forget, my students will never know, and Palestine will forget.

I fear to forget the smell of tear gas.

I fear to forget the feel of rubber bullets.

I fear to forget white phosphorus burning Gaza’s children into ash.

I fear to forget Dair Yassin.

I fear to forget Yalo, Abu Shoosheh, Zacharia, Beir Ma’ein, Kbab, Yafa, Haifa, Acca, Lod, Ramlah…

I fear to forget.

I will never forget.

I will always remember. For, if I forget, my children will never know and Palestine will be forgotten…

Article edited by Laïla von Alvensleben and Katie Jackson.



One Comment

danielle jawad, 02.14.13, 8:23 pm

i fear to forget an amazing professor like you
i will never forget….
this article is amazing MASHALLAH you really do have a talent professor Riyam.

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