A Thousand Carnations for Palestinian Mothers

My Palestine 

21/03/2010 — reham alhelsi

A thousand carnations for the Palestinian mother steadfast in Jerusalem; you who grew up in the heart of Palestine, know every house, every alley and every corner and cherish every stone of Jerusalem. You refuse to leave despite the daily terror and harassments from Zionist colonists. You cling to your small home where your children were born and where their children will be born. You protect your home, your mosques and churches with your heart and your body and refuse to be kicked out by Zionist colonists coming from far away who claim they have a right to your home. You defy the daily terror of the Zionist occupiers, you defy the siege that is strangling your city, you defy the ethnic cleansing that is targeting the heart of Palestine. When you are kicked out of your home, you move into a tent, and when your tent is taken away from you, you cling to the earth that is yours and refuse to move an inch. You are steadfast in your home, in the Old City, in Shu’fat, in Silwan, in Wadi Il-Jouz, in Rasi Il-Amoud, in Beit Hanina and in every suburb and street in the holy city.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are the guardian of Jerusalem.

A thousand carnations for the mother of the martyr; you who raised your child with love, to be snatched away from you by Zionist terrorists.

You taught your child the love of Palestine, the love of freedom, that every human is born free and deserves a life in dignity. And when your child is brought back to you carried on the shoulders of fellow comrades, you hold her/his hand and kiss her/his check and whisper of the love, of the pride and of the pain. You are often given only a few minutes to say goodbye to the child you carried nine months in your womb, the child you gave birth to and watched grow up, day after day.

You don’t want to let go, and cling to your child, wishing the Zionist bullet had hit your heart instead of that of your child.

Your tears wash your face, wash the houses and the alleys, the fields and the hilltops, and the sky cries with you, the olive tree cries with you, Palestine cries with you. You visit the graveyard and pray for every son and daughter whose life was snatched away. You keep the picture of your child in the heart of the house and talk to her/him every day about the daughter who is graduating, the son who is getting married, the father who has planted some more olive trees. You cherish the shirt your child wore the week he/she was murdered and keep it beneath your pillow and kiss it every morning and every night. You keep your child’s notebooks, and when no one is noticing you, you touch his words, read them and cherish every scribble she/he had made. Your child is never gone, nor forgotten, for every Palestinian is your child.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are the mother of a hero.

A thousand carnations for the mother of the prisoner; you who taught you child the love of Palestine, the love of the land and the love of freedom. You fear for the life of your child, pray for her/his safety, but when your child sits near you, hugs you, tells you of a life in freedom and asks for you approval, you say the words every Palestinian wants to hear: “Allah Yirda ‘alek Yamma” and approves the path she/he had taken. You stand between your child and the armed soldiers who had come to take her/him from you. You know exactly since how many minutes your child had been taken away from you, snatched away from your arms and thrown into a dark cell. You wake up in the early hours of the day joyous as a child, happy as a bride for you are to see the face of your beloved child, touch her/his hand and hear her/his voice. You endure the long journey, the checkpoints and the humiliation on the hands of Israeli jailors for the sake of a smile from your child, a whisper. You count the mornings and the dawns waiting for the day to see your child’s face, praying time after time that you only live long enough to just see her/his face again, kiss her/his cheek and give her/him a last hug.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are the mother of a freedom fighter.

A thousand carnations for the Palestinian mother steadfast on her land; you who planted the trees as a child, watched them grow. You know every tree, every leave and every fruit. You touch them with your hand as softly as touching a baby. As a child you accompanied your father to the fields, you sat by his side as he told you the story of every single tree. You carried him his lunch when you were older and sat by his side and shared his meal beneath the olive tree as he told you of the usurpers that are threatening the land. You saw his tears and held his hand and promised him to be loyal to the land and to the olive trees, to every stone, to every single earth particle, and swore to protect them so they be handed over to your children and their children after them. You accompany your husband to these fields and work side by side with him, caring for the trees, and protecting them. You bring your children to the land, teach them to love it, to work it, and to appreciate it. You tell them of the stories your father once told you, of the promises you made, of the legacy that is to be theirs. You work the fields defying the Zionists, and when they uproot one of your beloved trees, you plant ten new ones. And when the Zionist colonists come to steal your land and your trees, you stand up against the usurpers and protect your land with your body. You fear no clubs, no tear gas and no bullets. You fear their terrorism not, for it is your land and it is your olive tree, your apple tree, your almond tree and your fig tree. You cling to the trees of your father and reach for the nearest stone and defend the land, for it is yours.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are the protector of the land.

A thousand carnations for the Palestinian mother who witnessed the Nakba; you who went through untold suffering and survived unprecedented terror.

You were forced out of your home by Zionist terrorists, but you carry that piece of Palestine with you wherever you went, you never forget it. You tell your children and your grandchildren about the home you had, the garden you loved, the fields and the water spring where you often played and worked.

You tell your children about the dark day when the Zionists came, how you fought with the little you had against the killing machine that they were and still are.

You tell them about the betrayal of the so-called brothers and how they left you alone to face a slow death, surrounded by Zionists terrorists.

You tell them about the murderous Zionists who spared no one, not the young nor the old. You tell them how with cries and kicks and under the threat of a machine gun you were forced to leave your home, the home your children were born in. You tell them how as you were being forced out, under the rain of bullets, you saw beloved ones get butchered, and beloved homes get blown up. You saw your beloved home vanish into thin air. You know since how many days, months and years you have been made a refugee after foreigners have stolen your land and claimed it theirs. You count the days till you return back home for you know no other home and will accept no other. You know your house and your garden, your fields and your meadows are waiting for you to return. You remind you children that they have a home, far away, and they have a house and a key. You carry that key close to your heart and on your deathbed you hand it over to your children. You ask for a grave in your village that was erased, that doesn’t exist anymore for the “civilized world”, but is forever alive in your heart and mind and is more real than an invented entity built on the ruins of your home. You are away from your home but have your home in your heart.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are the witnesses of the Nakba.

A thousand carnations for the Palestinian woman in her working place; you go to your work every single day, defying the occupation to provide food, an education and a better future for your children. You defy Israeli terror every day to teach children that the land was, is and will always be Palestine. You teach the children not to fear the sniper on the opposite building nor the tank waiting outside the school. You teach them that freedom is the right of every human being and that freedom is never bought or sold. You teach them that you don’t beg for your legitimate rights and that Palestinian rights are not negotiable. You teach them that no military checkpoint can stop an idea and no siege can imprison a thought. You teach them that occupation never lasts and that justice is the destiny of every freedom loving people. You defy Israeli terror every day to treat injured people, to heal the wounds, to ease the pain. You risk your life during Zionist terror attacks, during incursions and curfews, to save the lives of others. You get beaten at checkpoints, humiliated and arrested, but you insist on reaching those who urgently need you. Your husband gets murdered by Zionists or imprisoned for life in a Zionist cell, and you take on the task of providing for your children and holding the family together. You defy the Zionist occupiers every day when you work in your field, when you teach children, when you heal patients, when you build a home. You defy the Zionist occupiers every day when you plant an olive tree, when you stitch a Thoub, when you bake Taboun bread.  You defy the Zionist occupiers every day when you write of Palestine, when you sing of Palestine, and when you paint the beauty of Palestine.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are the daughters of Palestine.

A thousand carnations for all Palestinian mothers leading the struggle for freedom; you face Zionist terrorism day after day and never surrender. You get kidnapped from your homes by Zionist terrorists who lock you up in dungeons. You are subjected to continuous torture and humiliation.

You are forced to give birth in Israeli prison clinics while handcuffed to the bed. You are stopped at Zionist checkpoints, humiliated in front of your children and often get beaten by Zionist soldiers who know no mercy.

You are deliberately delayed at checkpoints and prevented from passing to get urgently needed medical treatment.

You are forced to give birth at military checkpoints surrounded by mocking Zionist soldiers, on the road or in the back of a car and under inhumane conditions. You lose your babies and sometimes your lives at these Zionist death traps. During curfews and under the cover of night you distribute wheat, milk and sugar to needy families. You rush to protect your children and all Palestinian children from the brutality of the Zionists. You guide young men escaping the Zionist army, check the safety of the roads for them. You face fully armed Israeli soldiers who have come to take away your children, you stand between the soldiers and the young men to protect them. When Zionist soldiers as old as your youngest son beat you with the back of their rifles, slap you, punch you and push you to the ground, you stand up again and again, look them in the eye and show them that you don’t fear them. You don’t fear them for you know they are cowards hiding behind their machine guns. You face both the Zionists colonists and soldiers and fear them not. Despite Zionist terror you continue to live, to struggle and to protect your children, homes and land. You see how time after time, Zionists come and raid your villages and refugee camps spreading terror and destruction. You know that after every such terrorist raid, someone’s child will be carried away to a dark cell or to the grave. You rush to the streets to protect your children and your homes. You rush armed with stones to stop the march of Zionist colonists and IOF soldiers who have come to commit a new massacre. You don’t think about your own safety, you never do, for it is the safety of your children and all Palestine’s children that you care about.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are the spirit of Palestine.

A thousand carnations for the memory of all the Palestinian mothers who were butchered by Zionist terrorists; A thousand carnations for the Palestinian mothers who were murdered before, during and after the Nakba. A thousand carnations for the Palestinian mothers who refused to leave and preferred to die in their homes and on their lands. A thousand carnations for the Palestinian mothers who died defending their children, protecting them from the murderous Zionists. A thousand carnations for the Palestinian mothers who were murdered by the Zionists while teaching, while working in the fields, while working at home, while working in clinics, while working in offices and firms. A thousand carnations for the mothers murdered in their beds by Zionists air raids while sleeping and dreaming of a better future for their children. A thousand carnations for Palestinian mothers who died of heartache, away from Palestine, but yearning for Palestine. A thousand carnations for all the anonymous Palestinian mothers whose names we don’t know and of whose sacrifices we didn’t talk, write or sing.

A thousand carnations for you: because you are Palestinian mothers.

And a thousand carnations for my grandmothers; you taught me the love of the land that is mine. With your words you showed me a Palestine before the Nakba, a Palestine that was full of prosperity, happiness and love. With your stories you taught me about my culture, about the folklore the Zionist are stealing. With your memories you showed me the Nakba and the Naksa and the tragedies of our people and taught me a history not found in books.

Your steadfastness and bravery in the face of Zionist terror will never cease to inspire me and your wisdom will never cease to guide me. You taught me not to fear Zionists, that it is they who fear us, an unarmed people yearning for freedom. You taught me to love this land because it is our mother.

You taught me never to forget that Palestine is one from the River to the Sea, and that no Zionist and no traitor can ever make us forget that or make up give up our legitimate rights. You taught me that there is no freedom without the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes. A thousand carnations and a thousand tears for my beloved grandmothers; Aisha who lies to rest in Jerusalem and Mariam who lies to rest in Bethlehem away from her beloved home and only home Jrash (ethnically cleansed on 21.10.1948).

And a thousand carnations for my mother; you taught me to stand up against injustice, to never be silent. You taught me to sing, draw and write for Palestine. You taught me to be proud of being Palestinian.

You taught me never ever to give up no matter how tough it gets. You taught me that often we have to climb mountains on our own to reach our goal, that even if we get no support we should continue climbing and one day we will reach the top.

You taught me to feel the pain of others, that we Palestinians were and will always be one, that we share the pain and the hope.

You taught me to patient like the cactuses of Palestine. You taught me that Palestine is never for sale, that when we resist, we should never ask for a price for our resistance. You taught me that a real activist doesn’t ask for a price, never asks for something in return for her/his activism for Palestine. You told me about growing up as a refugee, how it felt to have a home that is close but unreachable. You taught me that in every one of us there is Palestinian refugee, that we will be free when all Palestinians refugees return to their homes. You taught me to see the land, to notice it, to feel it. You taught me to touch the earth with my hand, to embrace the air that surrounds me, to drown in the sight of the golden setting sun over the green olive fields. You taught me the love of the land, our land and that we are nothing without the land. Today, no words are good enough, no text long enough to describe your soul that is more beautiful than the sunset and more generous than the rain. To you, my beloved mother, a thousand carnations and a thousand kisses.

And a thousand poppies for the mother of every Palestinian: our mother Palestine; The Zionists tried destroying you, but in the process they are only destroying themselves and their fake entity. The Zionist tried murdering you, but in the process they are only exposing their murderous nature and their thirst for blood. They are so miserably failing because you are more alive than any of these dead murderers. You are alive through your children who swear to remain loyal only to you and to no other. You are alive through your olive and almond trees, through your orange and fig trees. You are alive every time a bird sings in your skies, and every time a flower blossoms in your meadows. You are alive every time a Palestinian child laughs, and every time a Palestinian child sings. You are alive every time a Palestinian child writes your name, and every time a Palestinian child draws your map. You are alive every time a Palestinian child holds a stone and dreams of your freedom. You are alive every time a Palestinian child shouts out for the whole world to hear: I am Palestinian. You are alive every time a Palestinian baby is born to tell the Zionist: we are here to stay.
You gave us our name and gave us our home and it is for you, beloved Palestine, that we write, draw and sing.
And it is for your freedom that we fight, because you are Palestine, our mother, from the River to the Sea.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian
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