The straw that broke the camel’s back, an iPod

Gratitude seems too heavy a word and a sentiment to me these days, as the swelling list of my losses up until this point has been preoccupying my mind. I have been thinking of myself and myself alone for a while to the point I feel I have become somebody I am not and never wanted to be, yet still getting slapped in the face- hard. Never before have I been selfish, and no one I knew could ever call me selfish. In fact, most people I met have told me that my selfless efforts to help those around me and to advocate something essentially just is what earned me their respect and appreciation, and thus thinking of myself now feels way too awkward for I have never asked for anything specifically for me. I have been contended with the privileges I had, and what God has bestowed me with in general. And I, like most Palestinians, try my bestest to appreciate life whenever I can and live it to the fullest, though from a bleak outlook on it. My pessimism is what made me happy in the first place, and it is what helps Palestinians cope with such life, injustice, and discrimination. It is when you do not expect something good from this world that you appreciate whatever it is you have, and as Swift said, ‘Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.’ But, I have been gradually losing that ability, and it is agitating me. I had accepted life in this part of the world as it is with the good and the bad, though I was blessed with something that turned my life upside down and made me way too happy to be myself, and then life slapped me with my worst fear to the point I can’t but look at everything I have, and everything I don’t, look at everything I do, and everything I don’t, everything I think I deserve, and everything I don’t. I knew there would eventually be a point in my life where I realize that nothing but a mirage is what I have been living, as the days seem too shallow now, too pointless, too painful, and too hard to escape- OVER A POSSIBILITY.

Palestine, Israel, and politics are constantly in the back of my head. If I were not Palestinian, perhaps most of this would not have been the case. I have been feeling too old and too cheerless for some time now, something I am known to be the exact opposite of. And often I  wonder if even having my blog and writing about my experiences and Palestine is a gain or an attainment, seeing that I by and large think of it as just another a loss on the list. This has never been something I wanted to do. I never thought I would write anything, I despised writing. But I guess this is my pre-determined life as a Palestinian who wants to do something and change whatever it is that can be changed with so little a power. But at least I do like video-taping and editing.

Now, I just want to be selfish and there is nothing wrong with that. I want one thing for myself. The most trivial things seem precious to me at this point and I keep thinking at things I wish I am doing, but still… I don’t want to think of my long-time-ago paintings and my art, that is fine. I don’t want to think of my dream of becoming an interior designer, not only because I don’t have the chance of studying or doing that, but also because it is not something that would contribute to justice in this world. I also don’t want to think about playing the piano or working on becoming better. I don’t want to think about swimming. I don’t want to think about my lost dignity at airports for having a Palestinian ID. I don’t want to think about having spoiled little children whose lives are much more fun and war-free. I am willing to sacrifice anything I love and want to have, and will continue to do anything noble that would contribute to justice and support it as much as I can with the same spirit I had. But, there is only one thing I don’t want to lose or give up on. There is only one thing I want to be selfish about, and I hope everybody would pray for me. Please, pray that I won’t lose it, and lose my mind, my life, my happiness, and my faith along the way. When life gives me lemon, I do make lemonade. But if it gives me gall, then what do I do?

Ps. As for the title, I lost my dear iPod (my best acquaintance) last night which I’ve used to video tape for the blog and other things, and which cost $300 and was NOT from Gaza. I still cannot believe I lost, where am I supposed to get a new one? How? I was so attached to it L it was always in my pocket wherever I went. Too trivial compared to the losses of a Palestinian, I know, but it is one of the trivial things I value so much, and I just lost it at the very wrong time.

This is the last thing I taped with it- Gaza Port:

5 responses

  1. Jehan – I am in the exact opposite situation to yours.

    For me, an American, life has been nothing but good things one after another. When I was your age (in the 1970’s) I was mindlessly listening to rock music, riding my motorcycle around the country and taking in everything as if it were the norm for everyone.

    When I retired (I am now 61) I looked back on my life with the clear realization that I had done little to deserve what I got. No political oppression, no restraints because of race or religion, no denial for lack of money had come my way. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote of the way each of us is thrown into the world. I had been thrown into a comfortable place. All this as others were struggling in the Civil Rights Movement, dying in Vietnam, rotting in prison under false conviction. If the lives of human beings were rated by good fortune (and I don’t mean simply having money), I knew I would be in the top 1%.

    With this realization, I knew that I had to save my life, not in a literal sense because I have my health and security, but in a moral sense. What is the value of looking out only for oneself while others suffer?

    With that in mind, I looked about for something worthy to work for. I began to investigate the plight of the Palestinians. This was particularly appropriate because the Nakba occurred within two years of my birth. For all the years I had been carefree, your people have been denied the most basic freedoms, have been (and are being) robbed of their most basic possession – the land. I realized that, even if unwittingly, I had, as an American citizen, been supporting oppression through the actions of my government and had said nothing in opposition.

    I tell you this because I want you to know that even in your worst moments of despair, realize that there are those working for an improvement in the lot of your people…that for the gross injustice that the United States actively promotes, there are Americans who detest what is happening. The world has come to see the horror that Zionism has created, one that can no longer be hidden thanks to those who, like you, publicize through words and pictures the truth for all to see.

    What is that Arabic word? Samud? Steadfastness. Hold on – there is light at the end of the long long tunnel that you and the last few generations have been in. The power of Israel in the United States is profound, shocking, frightening to any American who value liberty and justice for all, but the revulsion of humanity to your longstanding plight is turning the tide and it is a process that cannot be reversed.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm

  2. “I don’t want to think of my dream of becoming an interior designer, not only because I don’t have the chance of studying or doing that, but also because it is not something that would contribute to justice in this world.”

    Jehan, when I read this, I thought of something that Dr Harold Thurman once said: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”

    Who knows? Perhaps one day you will design a beautiful living room for people who used to live in the constant knowledge that their house could be bombed or bulldozed any day. Or you might design a colourful playroom where children can enjoy themselves, which again means a lot in a place where it’s so hard to have anything approaching a normal childhood. Whatever you do, I am sure it will be valuable, because you will do it with enthusiasm and love.

    A couple of years ago, in the wake of Cast Lead, I seriously considered training as a doctor. I wanted to do something practical for justice in Palestine, and it seemed that medicine would be a good way of doing that. It’s probably the most practical way of saving lives there is, and my degree in literature seemed worthless by comparison. Now I know that’s not true. I’ve been teaching creative writing in Bethlehem for the past six months, and the women and youth whom I have worked with have told me that it makes a difference to them – they like the chance to be creative, to express themselves, and it makes them feel better. Some people will have an obvious role in solving this conflict and helping the victims, and others will have a less obvious one, but they are equally important in their way. What matters is that we all do what we can.

    You write beautifully, by the way. The quality of your English makes me feel terribly ashamed of my broken Arabic. 🙂

    July 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm

  3. I’m a Norwegian guy living in Beirut, simply because I can, and because that’s where I want to live. I’m trying to find a way to make a sustainable income here, so that I don’t have to go back to Norway twice a year to work… for two months.

    I came across your beautiful blog through Twitter, and would have to say that you touch me a lot. Reading your blog makes me realize how silly my life is… And I would like to let you know how angry and ashamed I am of the European countries, Norway included, for not even trying to undo the injustice that has been done to your people. The focus has shifted from “the return of the occupied land” to “safeguarding the basic human rights of the Palestinian people”.

    And as powerless I feel when I hear from Gaza, when I visit Sabra, or when I see the flows of Syrians crossing the Lebanese borders, of whom many shows me horrible videos on their mobile phones, I wish I had a voice that people would listen to.

    I don’t know where you see yourself in the future, but right now, you do have a voice, and it speaks beautifully! I would highly encourage you, with or without your iPod 😉 to continue to write. I shall read every word you type into your computer.

    You’re a star!



    July 30, 2011 at 2:48 am

    • Hi Jorgen (I like people whose names start with J, too. haha). Thank you so much for your encouraging words. It really warms my heart to see that there are people out there who genuinely care.

      Also Cliff and Vicky, I really appreciate you taking time to respond 🙂 love you all, people!! 😀 😀 Vicky, we should practice some Arabic together 😉
      And I will definitely continue writing. Meeting wonderful people like you means a lot to me.


      August 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm

  4. Jehan, may your prayer for ours for you always be answered. Any prayer is for you and the millions you represent and care about.

    What indeed do you do when you are given gall? Know that we pray, and know that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. That friend is Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, who experienced gall and so much more that was done to him because of who he was…Psalm 69: 19-21. He understands you even better than you understand Nelson Mandela. Imagine or believe you can talk to him, both as a friend and as a fellow Palestinian; he cries for your people too, as I am doing right now as I write.

    Dear Jehan, that was written to you two days ago on Mondoweiss, and the tears come back again now. I have been constantly reading and writing about your people and your oppressors for the last two years but have never before wept about it or for anyone involved. It came when I wrote “he cries for your people”, and shows how much he identifies with those like you who are suffering.

    This is talked about in our Bible, which says “Likewise the Spirit of God also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know clearly what we should pray for, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered”.

    You are young and I am old, but we share our hearts and are together. I echo the thoughts and the love of the others who have written to you. You are not alone, and with God all things are possible, so never ever lose hope!

    Know that Palestine is on the right side of history and Zionism is on the wrong side of history. Your freedom is as sure as the rising of the sun tomorrow, it will only take longer. Just as the Nazi regime is history, just as the Soviet communist regime is history, just as apartheid South Africa is history, so will the Zionist regime become but a footnote of history. And Palestine will then be free and sovereign, secure and accepted, at last! God speed that day of celebration.

    John Hillary, Hamilton, New Zealand

    August 17, 2011 at 8:03 am

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