Revolutionary Love

04

Put it on Record

It wasn’t always like this. Grandma remembers a time before the UN’s partition plan, before the war and occupation, before identity cards and borders. A time before our land was split by two names and all its histories were stitched into a single narrative. She remembers what it was like to be able to sleep through the night. I asked her if she remembers what peace felt like, but she said she doesn’t think anyone in this country remembers that.

Me? I don’t. I was raised surrounded by war, bombs, raids, and destruction. I know rubble, gunshots, and hunger – but I also know grandma. I know sage tea, our donkey, Mufeed and the call of the cockerel at sunrise, and I know my mum, I know her favourite blue hijab, her big wise eyes and the warmth of her skin. I do not know my father, but I know he was not a good man.

Grandma once told me my father was part of the Israeli army, but mum said he was a Palestinian. I heard Grandma say to my mum that I deserved to know the truth, but mum responded by saying that “this is Palestine, and he was an officer,” and refused to say anymore.

There’s a picture of three army men on the wall of our bedroom. When I was little, my mum would say that the man in the middle was my father. I did not like the look of him, with his sunken eyes and his slim boyish arms holding a gun high on his shoulder. I hoped he was not my father, but still I needed to know more.

I’ve tried talking to her about him now that I’m older, but she denies ever saying anything, and tells me that I am a stupid girl for ever thinking he was my dad. But I’m not stupid, I remember what she said. So, one night, after she had gone to bed, I asked grandma, but she shook her head.

“He was your mother’s childhood sweetheart,” she told me, “he is long dead now. He was not your father.”

“But then who is?” I had shouted at her, “and how can I know who I am, and if I am good or bad if I don’t know where I came from?”

Grandma looked at me silently for a long time and I felt my rage evaporate until all I felt was shame. I did not mean to shout. I thought she would scold me, but instead she held out her arms, nestled me into her lap and whispered in my ear.

“My child,” she said to me, “you come from Bedouins, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. You are Greek, you are Roman. Your fathers are Fatimids, Seljuks, Turks and Crusaders. They are the invaded and the invaders. Your ancestors are Levantines, Mesopotamian, Egyptians, and Mameluke. They are Russians, Latvians, and Lithuanians. You come from slaves and enslavers, victims, and perpetrators. You are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and pagan. Palestinian, Israeli, Arab, a combination. Your family is this land that has birthed you, and it is this holy land, this promised land, whose earth bleeds the same blood that flows so peacefully through you. You, Amina, are my sunshine, my girl of only thirteen. How can you ever be bad, my child? How could you ever be bad?”

  1. Mira Mookerjee is a London based writer of mixed Indian and English heritage. Her work has been published by International Human Rights Arts Movement, in S/He Speaks: Voices of Women and Trans Folx anthology, by Azeema Magazine, The Journal of Fair Trade, and in Poetry and Audience as a winner of the Alison Morland Poetry Prize. She is a graduate from the University of Leeds and is currently studying an MA in Creative Writing at Brunel University. Alongside her studies she works as a Website Developer and Editor for the upcoming Global Souths Hub. In 2019, Mira volunteered with ECHO refugee library, travelling to camps in and around Athens with learning and language resources for adults and children. Mira's creative writing focuses primarily on the women's experiences, and through her work she aims to shed light on modern day human rights abuse, migration, displacement, and multiplicitous, shifting identities.

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