13 December 2013

history of Haifa's last battle - Maisoon's grandmother

(c) photos by khulud khamis, 2012

This is the history of Haifa's last battle as Maisoon knew it from her grandmother. She didn't read any books on it – no book can contain the grief and pain in her grandmother's voice as she narrated her own history. 

"I was seven… no, maybe eight months pregnant. Seedo was away with the rest of the young men. I don't know what he did exactly, because he refused to carry a weapon. This I know for sure. The night the first barrels were rolled down from Share'a El-Jabal… I remember this night fakat. The Yahud lived up the mountain, and we were down here. I was alone at the house, only with Majid. I heard some screaming outside, and I saw our neighbour Haneen running out – up and up the mountain. I don’t know if she wanted to stop the barrels, or if she ran towards them in desperation. She had six small children in the house. Haneen the majnouni we called her. Her husband was among the first ones to be killed, and she just lost her mind. After that, we never slept at night. She would wail for hours every night. It was like the sound of an animal, more like a howl. I don't think she ever slept. Someone from the church came and tried to take her children. She said she'd take them with her to Lubnan until it was safe to come back. Ya rab! I never saw a mother fight like Haneen for her children. For her house. Haneen's whole world was her family… on that night, she wanted to stop the barrels with her bare body… when I saw her running up, I took little Majid in my arms and ran after her… but Haneen was fast and I was pregnant… or maybe I should have left Majid at home but I couldn't how could I… I knew I would have to pay a price even as I held Majid and ran but it wasn't going to be Majid so I gave up the baby it was still unborn and I had my Majid and I ran and prayed please God don't please God don't please God don't but he did…

"That night the woman from the church came and took all six children. That night I lay down on the kitchen floor and bled. I bled and I looked up and I saw through the window the sky it was red there were sparks flying I thought is there a celebration someone getting married how could they at this time or is the sky bleeding Haneen's death. I didn't understand. I thought I must be losing too much blood to see the sky sparkling like that. That night Seedo didn't come home. And again I prayed please God don't, please God don't, please God don't and he didn't. Seedo came back in the morning after I had bled and I thought his clothes had my blood on them but how could they he wasn't with me to hold my bleeding body it was not my blood Abu Majid what happened and he only looked down at me and my bloody clothes and he laid down next to me and he wept and I wept. The next morning the woman from the church came again and told us there's a ship to take refugees to Lubnan and we could go with Haneen's six children Seedo told her to go away we already lost one and we will not leave our home and I held on to little Majid so tight that he started screaming and the woman saw me with my wild eyes after losing so much blood and Seedo buried the little one in the garden outside and I just couldn't bear leaving her there all alone so we couldn't leave see because of her how could I just leave her in the earth there alone Maisoon do you understand and when Majid was fifteen and came to me demanding his history I told him about this night and he asked me if she had a name I told him yes of course I named her but don't tell Seedo because he doesn't know and he asked what was her name Mama and I told him Maisoon. He gave her back to me when you were born but he made me promise never to tell you this so that you don't carry her history his history our history in your name but Maisoon you came to me and you demanded it and I don't have the right to take this with me to the grave. Majid will understand one day why he will be angry with me so please don't tell him you know until after I am underneath way under deep there with my Maisoon."

- edited from Haifa Fragments, novel, khulud khamis, 2013

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