Saturday, July 24, 2010

Palestine Book Project Day 2

I'm sure you're asking yourself how you could have missed the blog post titled Palestine Book Project Day 1, but no. Day 1 was last night, in the car on the way to Bethlehem.

Tarek was driving. I was talking. That's how we work.

I think it was somewhere on the highway close to Maale Adumim (one of the biggest Israeli settlements in Palestine) in the middle of  trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with my life (out loud, which is how I work) and talking about the photos of Tarek's family that we had gone through earlier in the day, that I somehow suddenly got the idea that, once it entered my mind, seemed so obvious that I wonder how on earth I hadn't thought of it before.

"I'm going to write a book about your mom!"

Of course!

Because among all the photos of Tarek's dad kissing Yasser Arafat's cheek, of his uncle posing for group photos together with dignitaries, and of a teenaged Tarek sitting with the revered poet Mahmoud Darwish, one picture stood out:

It's black and white. It's 1978. Tarek's mom is standing with two young men on a street somewhere in Beirut, with pants wider than any I've ever owned, holding a gun in her hands.

She fought in the war.

"Your mom is such a strong woman," I told Tarek in the car. Either before or after the Idea had entered my mind, I'm not sure. "It's not the gun. It's fighting for what she believed in until she no longer believed in fighting. It's marrying your dad even if it meant that her family turned their back on her. It's fleeing Beirut in the midst of a burning war. It's starting a new life in Syria. It's taking care of her late sister's daughter until a court order took her away from her. Raising two sons of her own while her husband was away most of the time, working with Yasser Arafat. It's working for human rights. Moving to Tunisia and starting a new life there. And then finally moving to Palestine in 1996, only to see Ramallah burn under Israeli fire a few years later."


So Tarek's mom (who has a name, but I haven't decided whether to use her real name or an alias yet, so for now she will be known as Tarek's mom, or Imm Tarek, if you will) will be the heroine of my book that I started working on yesterday.

It will be a story about love, war, dreams of freedom; about fleeing for your life, losing loved ones, winning new insights.

It will start in 1948 when Palestine was fought off the world map and her family forced to leave Yafa, and I wish it will end with Palestine being drawn into every atlas in the world again. But this is perhaps hoping for a little too much, so for now, I'll just focus on writing the book.

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Bo said...

I hear Random House calling! Fab stuff.

Kathryn said...

Way to support your parents in their old age :)

Hani said...

I want my signed copy!