The Daily Life of Kawther Salam
..: The House at Ber Al-Saba’a :..
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I was born to a simple, poor family. I am one daughter among five sisters and three brothers. My father was a humble farmer who loved his grapes and olive trees. He loved the nature, the flowers and the birds. My mother lead my father in the same way in which Israel today leads the American government. She was always giving him orders and instructions of what he was to do or to say, and nothing more than that. I never liked how my mother treated my father. When I came into my teens, I used to describe her as a government, and was always looking for ways to disobey her. I remember that I almost never said yes to my mother! I don’t know why I did that. This was my family and how I grew up.
I loved my father, I loved his work. It is wonderful to look at one tree giving two or three kinds of fruits, and one flower giving three colors. This was my fathers work at the farms and the private gardens of the rich people. Everybody liked his work and his character. When he died, most of the people who knew him cried for him, and everybody in the city took part in his funeral.
My family never took interests in politics. Never told us how we became refugees in Hebron, how they left their prosperity in their cities and towns, in what is now called Israel. But my parents were listening to the news all the time and on time and very quite. My mother was taking care that we did not see how they were listening to the news.
I saw the Israeli occupation soldiers for the first time when I was about 6 years old. I still remember that day: my mother wakes me and my brothers and sister in the middle of the night; she took us to a corner of the house. She hid us under the food table. Our house was very dark; we were not linked to the electricity at that time. My father was also sitting under the table. When I cried and my brothers complained that they wanted to return to their beds, my mother shut our mouths with her hands. We were hearing very heavy bombing and shooting in the street. Our house of that time stands at the main street used by the military, called “Ber Al-Saba’a”.
At that time I was not able to understand why we were hiding ourselves under the table without light, and what were the horrible noises which were coming from outside. I thought these were the noises made by the witches, the dragons and the imaginary things from the fairy tales about which I had heard in school. These were my childish thoughts, and because of that I was crying all the time. We spent all that night under the table; it was a very cold night in winter.
In the morning, heavy knocking at our door took us from under the table. My mother was trembling as she opened the door. Many soldiers had their faces painted with strange colors, and others not. All of them were pointing there guns toward us. One of them asked in Arabic: “wen abuk ?”, which means: “where is your father ?”
This is me, my father said. “Ihna bidna Iyak, ta’al mana” which mean “we want you, come with us”, the same soldier replied. The other soldiers cuffed my fathers hands, and bandaged his eyes with a piece of black cloth.
My mother said: “Zalameh khetiar wen bedko takhdoh, wallah ya khwaja ma imel ishi”. “He is an old man, were you taking him, he didn’t do anything !” This was the meaning of what my mother told the soldiers. But they took my father, and they shouted insults at my mother.
The soldiers were looking at the small garden in front of our house. My father was working the garden. He always did that in winter because of the grapes and the flowers. I heard my mother explaining to the soldiers the story of digging the garden. But they were shouting and pushing her to go inside. Then they asked her how to reach the rooftop of the house. Then they climbed the window and jumped on the roof of the toilet, then they climbed to the roof and stayed there half a day. Then they left.
I remember that my mother left us and went to ask about my father. I cried all the day. I cried for 24 hours, until my father returned. He said he had spent all the time sitting under the rain, that nobody had asked him anything. He said that to us. My father always preferred to keep silence.
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