By: Hussein Mansour
Um Ali has been alone since one month or more without any
companion. This is because she prefers to stay at home and
would not follow the displaced members of her family. She
stayed behind to witness the hardships, to continue plowing
the land and extract means of subsistence, and to stay alive
and witness the events…
What are you waiting O Um Ali? I am wondering about what is
going to happen. I know they asked you to call your husband
and children in order to return to the village. I know they
gave you their word that they will be safe as long as they
collaborated with them or else…
Um Ali's grieve worsens each time she speaks to herself in
this manner and during the very moments when she retires at
the outside courtyard in front of her house. She wishes she
could practice to use the rifle or even possess one like her
husband used to advise her.
Whenever she heard news about the resistance operations, she
obtained strength and courage and was filled with hope. She
felt that a mountain burdened her shoulders. Hence, she sat
by her indulged yellow dianthus to rest with her face
shining like a full moon.
While resting, she heard a roaring sound coming from a
distance! She knew that sound and stood upright like a
spear! She felt the moist of the field, which stretched by
"al Naqaa" area, cooling her face. She was able to sense
some of its odor. However, her eyes focused on the main
road, where a military jeep stopped followed by a civilian
car. Two soldiers exited the first vehicle while other three
"from the others" exited the other car. Therefore, Um Ali
snarled and gloomed with her face signaling anger.
They came towards her carrying their machine guns. One of
them approached her and said meanly: "Obviously you did not
comply with our demands. It looks like you do not want to
cooperate with us." Um Ali lit up and stood tall,
disdainfully watching them. She would not respond. What was
there to bargain for? She was not going to bargain for their
futile dreams or weak power? She will never accept to live
under their reign!
- Aren't you going to say anything? This is your last
- I guess conversation with you is useless. I have nothing
else to add.
Another one said meanly and harshly:
- If you maintain this attitude we will not let you stay
here. Go to hell and pay the price for this silence of yours
and lose everything.
Next, he pushed her towards the car and she quickly stooped
towards the yellow dianthus. She managed to touch her and
pick up a fistful of soil that she kept. She was finally
forced depart her home. Later, she arrived one of the
coastal orchards where her displaced family lived.
Abu Ali stood up after having his breakfast and said to her:
I will return when I finish watering the trees at the
western side of the orchard.
- Go with God's speed Abu Ali.
The chance that she has been waiting to face her son Qassim
after the house became vacant from her husband has come. She
was worried thinking that she was going to hear his same old
answers. Qassim noticed from his mother's glances that a
storm of questions was going to begin, as if the police
department assigned his mother with a mission. Therefore, he
was readying to flee the room. But she was quicker and
grabbed him by the arm.
- Come here, she said.
- You have been absent for three days. Where have you been O
light of my eyes?
- I was in the neighboring village at my friend Bassim,
studying together for the exams. Don't you want me to pass?
This is my chance to win a great life. I have the great will
to do this! Don't be afraid or worried. Make it easy for
Her son's words seemed mysterious! She wondered and
continued questioning him gently using a light tone:
- Of course, I want to be happy for you my child! I expect
you to succeed. This is good for all of us. However, my
heart is telling me something else. Tell me the truth. Where
do you go and what do you do? Suspicion is eating me alive.
I fear for you from bad companions. They are numerous
- These are illusions mother. I am not one of those whom you
are thinking about!
- Do you know what I am thinking? Alternatively, do you fear
this thinking of mine? Your father took this path before
you. Nevertheless, I do not know why he became frustrated
after the Zionist enemy entered our village. He continues to
suffer a strong shock. This is why he keeps asking me to
disallow you from sleeping outside our house. Do you
Qassim kept his secret. He was aware of his mother's
puzzlement. He initiated saying:
- I believe displacement must have affected you and him.
Um Ali was moved for hearing those words. She recalled some
warm memories that took her to the outside courtyard. She
could almost hear the sounds that she left behind and see
things that moved towards her. She felt some contraction in
her chest. However, the gentleness of the memories was
stronger. Therefore, her eyes watered her cheeks with tears
Qassim took advantage of his mother's absentmindedness and
exited through the backdoor before seeing tears in her eyes.
He vanished as he walked through the lemon trees.
Um Ali walked towards one of the corners of the outside
courtyard, where a stone stove was built. She placed a
container on tope to wash clothes. The evaporating water
rose quickly from inside. She grabbed wooden tweezers and
started picking the pieces of clothes from the container to
place them in the washbasin. Next, she sat on one of the
stones in front of the washbasin and began washing the
clothes using her bare hands.
She picked one of Qassim's trousers and started rubbing and
beating it strongly with her hands to sink it again in the
water of the washbasin. She looked again at the trouser and
discovered that it did not clear yet. She tried to clean it
repeatedly without any use. She looked carefully and
realized that the dark color stained the trousers like a
tattoo that did not want to disappear. She examined again
the stain that refused to go away. She realized that this
was the dirt of "al Naqaa" area that can never be forgotten.
Its traces will remain regardless of the boiling water and
detergents! I am the best one to tell about it. O God! Is
Stains of the soil of "al Naqaa" are on Qassim's trouser.
She sunk into a wonderful and amazing astonishment as she
repeated these words.
The next morning she woke up with her astonishment still
existent. She wondered: "Did Qassim grow into this kind of
men?" Suddenly she saw an old newspaper with something
rapped inside! She grabbed it, unrolled it, and the
surprising item almost fell to the ground. It was a "bunch"
of her favorite flowers "the dianthus"! She held it next to
her chest and face and started sniffing it. She closed her
eyes with Qassim's picture hovering above her head like a