By: Hussein Mansour
Um Hassan stood at the porch of her house that overlooks
the village's main square. One time she would stare at the
stars and other times she would look at the main square.
After she was satisfied with the scenes, she entered her
room and went to her bed.
Whenever she felt lonesome, she picked up a smooth cane with
a grip, which rested next to her bed. She embraced it like a
suckling baby to smell and kiss it.
One day, Hassan said to her: "Take this cane and lean on it.
And if someday you feel lonely, embrace it and your
loneliness will go away to be replaced by tranquility."
After doing so, Um Hassan would go into a deep sleep.
The almond tree flowered while spring dreams returned to sit
on the mountains, the planes and the savanna. Friends
gathered again: Hassan, Zeid and Marwan. Um Hassan knew that
the almond tree represented the cave where these young men
sought refuge. The tree heard and understood everything
while Um Hassan stared at the next balcony.
Marwan would say: "Do you see these trees O Hassan, and
those twisty trails? Our ancestors walked these trails to
reach the orchards, fields and fountains. Later, they
entrusted us with them to provide them with love, maintain
and treasure them like they did."
Hassan: "We will smell their emitting odors and live through
them along the noisy fields, trails, rustling trees, and
It is almost sunset; Um Hassan cried: "Here is the Call to
Prayer. We must pray after which we will dine here beneath
the almond tree."
The three young men gathered to pray like one body and one
soul. While praying they uttered verses that mixed with the
spirit of the almond tree, which was watered with their
falling tears. The tree will never forget those moments.
Um Hassan finished her prayer and came towards them hoping
she will not miss anything. She wished she had a camera in
order to take a picture of that particular scene for
treasuring. The almond tree looked like a niche of
tranquility and happiness. Um Hassan sensed that igniting
passion and was happy. She said: "The evening beneath the
almond tree will be delicious, refreshing and enjoyable. We
will be satisfied, but I could not buy the meat for barbeque
this evening. However, the land provides me with nutrients
from its own flesh. We will have Kibbit Banadoura (a
meat-like food made of tomatoes and grains mixed with cumin)
coupled with thyme salad that will make you lick your
fingers, followed by a kettle boiling with tea. Will that do
you my dear ones?"
Zeid replied: "Thank you for your kindness Um Hassan. This
is how the mothers should be."
As days went by, Um Hassan discovered that she was sitting
alone during one day of July. She placed an almond nut in
her hand and stared at it for a long time, as if she could
hear Hassan's voice coming out from it to tell her: "I will
leave you my heart inside the white almond nut if I ever
depart to the eternal green prairies.
Suddenly, cries of joy arrived from the village's main
square, while the radio broadcasted a statement of the
resistance mixed with inspiring anthems. It read: "The
resistance men captured two Zionist soldiers." Joy
overwhelmed the villages and towns. People took to the
streets to distribute candies.
Hassan, Zeid and Marwan gathered at their "almond tree"
mansion, and they prayed the prayer of light and purple. All
they needed was: perfumed residence and the remains of the
water of the times of thirstiness.
The brothers parted after they renewed their covenant to
their leader. Therefore, Hassan and Zeid ambushed at the
triangular border to sever the fins of the shark (enemy),
whereas Marwan ambushed at the forefront to strike the head
should the enemy sneak from the side of Aytaroun village.
The ocean waves rose higher and an open war began.
Um Hassan returned after the war to the village. She stood
before her destroyed home. The debris of the house fell over
the almond tree and covered it with a heavy dust. Um Hassan
could hear a voice calling upon her from beneath the rubble
to say: "The rain of September is late, I have been washed
by the dust of the rubble of your house. Forgive me O Um
Hassan, I will pray here with the memories that I treasure
inside my wounded heart."
The evening fell; suddenly Um Hassan glimpsed several moving
light bulbs at the main square. She focused and said: "O
God! Those must be Hassan, Marwan and Zeid." She rubbed her
eyes; it was her son and his two companions. She rushed
towards him and embraced him like no other. She overwhelmed
him with all her being and existence. One could only see a
halo above his head. She wanted to stay with him forever in
this condition, until she grows old and die while he
remained in her bosom. She no longer wants him to leave her.
He has returned and she is very happy.
Um Hassan woke up from her sleep feeling lonely. She felt
like she's been sleeping for a full year. All she could
think about was grabbing the cane, embracing and kissing it
with the eagerness of the almond tree that misses her son.
She was wearing her sleeping gown while her heart filled
with pride and sense of honor. She was the mother of a
martyr who lived with a wish to relive and give birth again
to children whom she would name after her favorite name "The