Nooran Alhamdan writes in +972, “My grandmother was my first best friend. As soon as I’d be dropped off at her house, almost daily, the hotheaded and spoiled four-year-old me would change to well behaved and bubbly. My teta, grandmother in Arabic, would sit me by her side while she meticulously rolled tiny stuffed grape leaves on the large dining room table. She would turn on the Arabic pop channel for me – a special treat, as I was only allowed to watch cartoons – and I would clap along with a scantily clad Nancy Ajram.”
“What I remember more than anything, though, is our ritual mid-day nap. It is only within the past few years that my grandmothers’ hair had lost its color and length. When I was a little girl, it was long, black and silky smooth. She always kept it in a knot on top of her head while working around the house. But when it came time for her nap, she would let it tumble down her back. Laid down in bed, it would fan out across her pillow and push me almost to the opposite end of the mattress.”..
“I couldn’t leave Jaffa without trying to find Teta’s house – her real house. The house she was born in. The house her parents got married in. The stone house, overlooking the sea, near enough to the mosque that you could hear the athan (the call to prayer) every morning, but far enough for the sound of the sea to compete with it every dawn.”
“In my descent to Ajami, I witnessed the houses grow older, the people turn darker. The language of the stones, of the streets, and of its residents switched from Hebrew to Arabic. I asked every passerby if they knew where I could find the Qattan house. You are going in the right direction, they all told me; down, down, down. I turned blindly, ran my hands over the hanging citrus, listening closely for the sound of the sea.” (more…)