My son, oh future,
I overhead you yesterday in the other room asking your
mother, "Am I Palestinian too?" When she said
"yes", a heavy silence engulfed the whole house.
It was as if something that was suspended over our heads
had fallen, its noise exploding, and then falling silent.
Afterwards, I could not believe my ears, but my fingers
I did believe. I was reading when I felt the book trembling
in my hands. No, everything was real to an alarming extent.
I heard you cry.
I could not move. Something grater than my grasp was being
born in the other room through your ambivalent sobbing.
It was as if a blessed scalpel was cutting open your chest
and placing there the heart that belongs to you.
Your question was still moving about the ceiling and reverberating
in the trembling of my fingers: "Am I Palestinian too?"
Then the scalpel falls, in that quick, clean move of a skilful
surgeon: "Yes". Then silence falls, as if something
has occurred, and I hear you crying.
I could not move to see what was happening in the other
room. I knew, however, that a distant homeland was being
reborn, that some land of meadows, olive groves, dead people,
torn and folded banners, was making its way into a future
of flesh and blood, to be born in the heart of another child.
I was overcome by the same ambivalent feeling that gripped
me five years ago when you were born. I was standing there
waiting for you to emerge from one unknown into another.
I felt – when I heard you coming into the world crying with
a wailing voice-that you had fallen on my shoulders and
embedded me more firmly into the earth.
Here I am, in the other room, seeing you being born again,
feeling you falling on my shoulders again and thrusting
me deeper into the earth. At the moment I wished I could
see how your small face, abounding with the bloom of innocence,
was being initiated to sorrow, how that "yes"
was coming sown on it like a branding iron, taking away
your innocent glide over a childhood unaware of the blades
You were being created, at that moment, before your mother's
eyes and my fingers, as they trembled like the page of a
book. Someone was handing you a gun and directing you eyes
to its trigger.
Between out two rooms and the wall, the veins of the earth
were creeping like a legend binding us once more. I could
not move, but I knew in an obscure way, difficult to discern,
why it was that you unwillingly cried. I believe in that
unknown which is conveyed by words, but can be perceived
You were unknowingly feeling it, that word which signifies
belonging and suffering. It may mean to you, more than to
me, the elation of victory. These years that elude me shall
be yours, and hope, within me does not wither, but shall
be conveyed to you and added to your hopes, and shall grow
You undoubtedly felt that; otherwise, why was it that you
I remember – while sitting in the other room listening
to you being reborn through your sobbing – how I too was
born again. I was only ten when cars transported us to the
disgrace of escape. I knew nothing then, I felt nothing.
I was still gliding, unaware, over the innocence of childhood.
But in that instant, I was baptized in a scene I shall never
forget: the trucks had stopped; I sneaked to where the men
were standing, driven by the curiosity of a child or the
destiny of a man. I saw them surrendering their weapons
to the border sentry post so that they may enter the world
of refuge with bare hands.
I walked back depressed, sensing something I could not
fathom; my mother was sitting with the other women. I proceeded
towards her as though she was a refuge. She asked what was
wrong. "They are surrendering their weapons",
I said. In the same way that your mother said "yes"
to you, so did my mother, say "yes" to me, then.
Silence befell us as if something had fallen, and under
the lash of her intelligent eyes I found myself weeping.
I was born anew then. I was watching the men once again,
with a look they were unaccustomed to, and my mother – alone
– was giving me a look I was unaccustomed to.
Do not believe that man grows up. No. Man is born all of
a sudden: a word, in an instant, penetrates his heart to
a new throbbing. One scene can hurl him down from the ceiling
of childhood onto the rough road.
As that piercing "yes" recreated me, another
"yes" recreated you. And I heard how you accepted
it with the wailing of a man emerging from one unknown to
another with the rhythmic flow of sound impossible to be
Was your question just like mine, the curiosity of a child
or the destiny of a man?
It is of no consequence.
At that moment, the old land had been born within a new
man. I witnessed the birth while I was in the other room
and felt that the resisting veins had taken root in another
patch on the expanse of unending bodies.
When you came to me, it seemed as though you were emerging
from you own private enclosure and a voice had instructed
you to read. It caused you to panic at first, but it put
you at the gateway leading out to the road ahead.