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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ghassan Kanafani, Good Byes, Grandma, Gaza, Palestine, Egypt, Morsi & Me

Ghassan Kanafani, Good Byes, Grandma, Gaza, Palestine, Egypt, Morsi & Me

Warning: This is very raw, emotional and looooong. 

July 8, Gaza, I don’t know from where to start. Should I try to remember the beginning or jump right to the end or just honor the middle by mention it first. I had this strong intuition that 2012 will be an eventful year, a year of unprecedented events, a year of laughter and sobs and a year that I will remember for the rest of my life. Oh boy, Its July and till now I am very right.

Let me start by honoring Ghassan Kanafani, who ignited the inspiration behind this blog post after the abandonment to my blog for a little over a month ago. Today, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of Israel's brutal assassination of Ghassan in Beirut by blowing his car up. Yes, he had a dangerously artistic mind that overflowed with influential work that touched the hearts of numerous people around the world. He needed to be silenced.

Yet, 40 years today after his death, his voice remains stronger or even stronger than ever. His words touch me like he wrote them today to me only and his work is highly known and searched for by many people around the world. Voices like Ghassan cant be silenced.

If you want to know more about him check his website:

By now, most of you became familiar with my weirdness and eccentricity (or I hope you are). I relate to many different things, I belong to many different people\nations\things\countries and I bond with numerous things and people. Ghassan Kanafani is a special case. I remember saying: "I think I know this man", when I first saw his picture. I read allot about him and I kept feeling like I know him.
His face is so familiar, the curve of his mouth when he smiles is familiar, the way he glares is familiar, the way he thinks is familiar and the way he writes is very familiar. I feel like we were best friends or could be best friends had I been born in his Era. I feel angry sometimes because I didn’t attend his funeral. I feel jealous sometimes because I wish I was one of his friends in Gaza or outside whom he used to see and\or write to.

Here is a letter he wrote to his friend Mustafa:  

It strikes me how familiar and identical Gaza sounds in his letter. Its like he is among us now. His letter is ageless, I wonder if he ever imagined that so many years will pass but Gaza will remain Gaza. The only difference is that more blood flows in Gaza streets reflecting a red that can be felt but not seen. The debris of defeat has created a fog and more sadness camps on Gaza. Yet, more steadfastness took place and life still goes on like it went on when he wrote this letter.

For a split second, I felt like I wrote this letter or it was written to me yesterday. There is allot of Ghassan Kanafani in me and allot of me in him, I wish he was here so I could tell him that. Anyway, I'm sure his soul got my message.

Just like Ghassan, I always undergo the fiasco\inner conflict\dilemma of "should I leave or should I stay?" for the same reasons or atleast similar reasons or just my reasons.

Here is a picture of his funeral:

Starting from the end requires from me to go back to the beginning. This year started with the continuation of revolutions in the Arab world. Revolutions that I was very attached to. I wouldn’t sleep, glued to the TV watching the latest news from Tahrir and\or Syria and\or Bahrain and\or Yemen and\or Libya and ofcourse the latest news of my own country –Palestine- even though unfortunately we weren’t going through any revolutions here.

I then joined MSF's (Doctors without Borders – France) office in Gaza to live a once-in-a-live-time experience that came out of nowhere and was very unexpected. I learned things in 5 months that I couldn’t have learned in 10 years. The best and most exhausting 5 months in my life. I got a wide access to Gaza and the INGOs world here. I discovered shocking things and I witnessed good and bad things after careful observation. Yet, I felt a tremendous pride for being MSF member and MSF felt pride to have me aboard.
Its sad to see that those 5 months have come to an end but its time to move on. I will come out with endless amazing memories and people who will be my friends for life. Plus, a very worthy experience and an unimaginable honor.

On my birthday this year, my grandmother was sick and got sicker and this totally ruined my birthday. I love her so much so I couldn’t help be affected by her sickness. Her health kept declining until we were all able to see in May that she is living her last days. I kept preparing myself for the inevitable but later I learned that no matter how hard you prepare yourself, you will never be ready to lose a loved one.

On June 22nd, Friday, I had a bath and left to my best friend's house. Before I left, I saw my sister leaning next to my grandma's bed while she is asleep and reading her Qura'an. I asked her "why?" and she said she just felt like doing it. 15 minutes after my arrival to my best friend's house, I got a call from home: "Come, something bad has happened", my heart told me that the moment I fret just happened. 

I rushed home accompanied by Ziad my best friend and I was calm. Then, out of nowhere, felt like air is abandoning my body, like I was about to dive into oblivion, like I was about to go mad, like my mind was about to explode. Half way home, in the cab, I got my first ever panic attack. I never experienced panic attacks before; I only heard about them and saw them on TV. They aren’t pretty or easy. I arrived home and saw the ambulance parked downstairs. Suddenly, I had to face the ugly truth. Teta is gone. My grandma is no longer with us. I went down from the cab, threw my bag on the floor and rushed upstairs. Teta is dead, she passed away. I realized that after 12 continuous and strong panic attacks. I thought I was prepared; my body had a different story to tell.

Numbness take over when you cant deal with a big loss. Teta wasn’t just a grandma; she was a second mother who kept us together after I lost my mom at the age of 9 and a half. After her death I felt motherless, a feeling so cruel and dark and cold that I felt a constant chill in my spine. I feel that I'm still in denial.

Farewell Grandma, you battled cancer for 13 years, you raised children and grandchildren and you taught us to love Palestine like you did. You lived a full life, you had an exceptional willpower and you kept Palestine in your heart then passed it onto ours. May you rest in peace and know that you will never ever be forgotten.

As if I wasn’t overwhelmed enough with everything around, Egypt was unstable and Morsi won the elections. Speculations here and in Egypt were flying like flocks and flocks of birds. I didn’t know what to feel. Its either Morsi or Shafiq. Bad and worse. I felt sorry for Egypt and Egyptians. I felt their frustration and showed my support.

I still crave visiting tahrir square and all my friends there. I still have respect for Egypt.
Moving on to Palestine. Hmmm I don’t know what to say. I wake up every day craving the west bank and the stolen lands of 1948. I miss Palestine. My soul yearns for Palestine. I want to visit Nazareth and all my family there. I want to visit Safad and relive all the memories that my grandma told me about it and how her heart broke when the huge expulsion of 1948 took place. She always wished and wanted to go back there one day.

I am worried about Palestine. The Palestinian cause has been and still is making a huge progress regarding awareness, BDS and such but the Palestinian cause internally is nearly lost. Palestinians are two seconds away of giving up. Our internal issues are screwed up. We are divided and I think that we require a miracle to unite and free Palestine. I hope god is listening.

Finally, I would like to thank you all for being my friends, loyal fans and having continuous interested in my blog even when life's pressures force me to abandon it for a while. I also want to thank you all for helping me be real, raw and emotional while I share my stories with you.

Eternal Gratitude,
Omar from Gaza

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