She’s probably 80 years old or more, but surely not less. Rusty, old wrinkles have hidden the features of her face. Hunchbacked and with her right hand supporting her back and the other moving carelessly forwards and backwards, she strolled into the room my mother and I were sitting in. The first words she uttered with her tender and rather shaky voice were “where is the newspaper?” The lady tailor who was fixing my mother’s Abaya answered “we didn’t receive it today.” I then offered the old lady a chair; she sat next to me then said “thank you. Why? I want the newspaper!” “I will go and check with our neighbors and see if they got one.” My mother then started talking with this old lady whom apparently she have spoken with before then said “This is my daughter” she looked at me and said “yeah, you came yesterday.” I said “no, you must have seen my sister, I’m the other daughter.” She smiled adding even more wrinkles to her calm face and said “oh, I hardly noticed.” She asked me what I study at college; and I told her in Arabic that I finished English literature (Adaab Engleeze) she pondered for a second then said “English.. eh.. English, I forgot the word, it’s been a long time. English..” “Literature?” I said fulfilling her missing word, hesitantly. “Exactly Literature, now I remember! I was an English teacher, you know.” After saying those words, it was like a waterfall of memories kept pouring on her mind. She told us how she was a teacher in Gaza, then Kuwait then Jerusalem, then Yaffa among other Palestinian cities. She shared with us some anecdotes of her life as a teacher travelling through countries and of the Israeli occupation at that time, especially in Jerusalem which occupied most of her anecdotes. The lady Tailor has come back for some time without the newspaper; the old lady asked her again about it, but the lady tailor replied “they didn’t get the newspaper too today, Hajja Myassar.” Hajja Myassar disappointed and upset said “I want to read the newspaper. I want to know what’s happening out there. The headlines at least” When I got home, I went into a coma of thoughts thinking about this lady and her obsession with the newspaper. All my life I’ve hated teaching “still do” but she inspired me somehow. The amount of passions she put while talking about teaching were inspiring; the way she was talking about the past and how wonderful it was was inspiring; even her obsession with the newspaper was inspiring. I remember she said “when we first went to Kuwait (my fellow teachers and I) the Kuwaiti students were ignorant. It was us Palestinians who taught them everything. Us Gazans taught them everything.” And I kept thinking I want to be like that. You know, make a change! Do something that I’d be so much proud of the way she was proud of teaching. I want to be obsessed with something. Even if that something was a newspaper.
Who knew Newspapers Could Inspire!
There is always HOPE
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in Jerusalem, once you enter the holy city a profound sense of belonging fills you with joy, wherever you turn your eyes observing in silence, the scene of the ancient houses and buildings gives you a strange feeling like you have been there before, you almost swear.
in Jerusalem you decisively refuse to ride caps or taxis. something inside you urges you to walk on your own. you gaze and gaze at the streets, you listen carefully to the sounds around you as if these streets are telling their stories and you want to listen.
in Jerusalem you don’t need a tourist guide to inform you where you are. you just know.
in Jerusalem you ignore the fact that the city is stuffed with foreigners from all around the world, you ignore the fact that Israelis are walking the streets proudly as if the city is theirs, and you ignore seeing them giving directions to the foreigners as if they memorize the city like the palm of their hands. while you walk the streets schizophrenic, sometimes you are dazzled and your breath is taken away by the cities might and other times you are looked at by the foreigners as if you are the foreigners.
in Jerusalem you are never alone, remember you are in Jerusalem.