Haifa in my heart

Mohammad Arafat | 20-04-2017


Old Haifa

I lived happily with my lovely family,
Life was fine and full.
I had a small swing,
And I slept under the olive tree,
beside our home in Haifa.
My father was a simple villager.
He loved his trees and plants;
His smile never left his face,
Especially when my mother prepared breakfast-,
with white cheese from our cow,
thyme from the shrub under the willows,
olive oil from the Suri tree,
hot bread made from brown wheat flour.
We ate under the shadow of that tree.
I remember each bite,
I remember asking for more.
Then I screamed, watching the grass turn red.
I cried…
and cried…
and cried.

I was five years old.
I saw her blood... his blood... some of my blood.
The trees, the oil, our cow,
the thyme, the willows, the wheat-flour bread,
and our small farm
became a field of mines.
I was forced to leave my happy days,
my moments,
my memories,
my mother in the morning sun.
I was alone,
I grew up alone.
I wanted to cry and moan,
but didn’t want my mother to hear from her tomb.
I didn’t want my dad to think I was still a child,
so I did not shed a tear.

I lived in a refugee camp outside Palestinefor years, long years…
the longest years,the darkest years.
They promised I could to go back to my land,
to my mother`s tomb,
to the shadow of the willows,
to the olive tree.
They promised I could smell the same hot bread,
eat fresh thyme from under the window,
breathe the breeze of Haifa,
but… that was a false promise.
They cheated me off my land.
They went to the United Nations,
They had another plan.
It was a plan against me,
against my land,
against my father's farm and his trees,
against Palestine.
I am still living in this camp,
I turned 75 and am still waiting,
I am still living with the key of our old home,
and will die holding it.
But before I die, remember,
that I want to be buried
under that olive tree,
beside the swing on my old farm,
in Haifa,
in Palestine.

Author's note: My family is originally from Gaza, but I am like all Palestinians and feel a longing for all of my homeland. And whenever I see pictures of Haifa, I feel a special affinity for some reason. Tears come to my eyes and my heart aches. It is my dream to visit.

Posted: April 19, 2017

Mentor: Laila Sumpton

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