Summer Vacation, A Jigsaw and Demolitions (Once More)

It’s Friday. I’m home, turning on the radio (Israel’s classical music station) and facing the computer, to try again. The empty screen awaits me, and once more I cannot write what I feel. For two days I have wanted to respond to these tugs of the heart that continue to bear my Wednesday experiences, so that my own burden be lessened and the world outside be informed. And my objections leap at me as soon as I even recognize my will to do this, yelping – you’ve written more or less the same now dozens of times. You have become a bore even for yourself. This information has whizzed through the social media almost immediately – so what could you possibly tell that’s new? And anyway, your writing isn’t such a big deal. Etc. Etc. Etc. For two whole days these voices hammer away at my mind, toxic, bewitching, without forgetting even the slightest reason for not writing… And my heart doesn’t give up easily. I am tired of this struggle and sink into chaos, darkness all around.

As I sit there, staring, I hear the radio guy describe the background for Janacek’s composing the piece about to be played: “On October 1, 1905, a non-violent demonstration by young Czechs took place, protesting the Austro-Hungarian rulers’ refusal to open a university curriculum in the Czech language. A soldier stabbed a demonstrator and killed him. Janacek, one of the demonstrators, witnessed this killing. He was inconsolable, and composed this piece”.

The hammers in my head fall silent. True, I have written similar things in the past, and will probably write them again and again because human history repeats itself at an embarrassing pace, fluctuating between its destructive urges and powers of healing, intoxicated with evil and at other times – compassionate. So here is the story:

Wednesday, July 4, 2019 – summer vacation has begun for both Palestinian and Israeli children (separately of course), and I am on my way to the South Hebron Hills with my 10-year old granddaughter. She has made friends with Palestinian children in Susya village for some years now, and visits them when vacation comes around. As always, she brings along a game that would be fun to play and serve as a language of sorts (my granddaughter does not yet speak Arabic and her Susya pals can speak neither Hebrew nor English yet).

This time we bought a puzzle to be worked on until the world map emerges.

Inside a small tent at Susya, in the South Hebron Hills, Ahmad, Miya, Zahara, Dyala and Diana looked at the world map pictured on the puzzle box, scattered its 200 pieces over a low plastic table and began to put together a world.

10 little hands worked together, busy as little ants, until they got tired and wished to take a break.

“It’s hard, building a world” I teased them. They took the hint and continued. It took them two whole hours to put together a whole world. All the continents and oceans were there. They were happy.

Ula, sitting beside us the whole time, was extremely upset. She stopped her phone conversation and reported to us that the Israeli army and Civil Administration had just uprooted 1006 olive tree seedlings at Umm al Kheir village.

The children fell quiet. 1006 tree seedlings?? I repeat the number in disbelief, and translate it into Hebrew for my granddaughter Mia.

The children faced their just-completed whole world and suddenly their own world had fallen apart into 1006 pieces of scathing pain. Not their own home this time – true – but they have already experienced demolition. And they are only 10-years old.

Wishing to bring in a bit of air into our hearts, I told them that there was once a scientist very busy with his own work, and his 7-year old son disturbed him. The father-scientist tore out a newspaper page and told his son: Do you see the picture on this page? It’s the world, answered the son. That’s right, said the father. Now I’ll tear it up in pieces and you will put back together again the world you just saw in the picture. The father was certain that the task would keep his son busy for 3-4 days, and lo and behold – after 3 hours the son stood in front of the father and presented him with a whole world. “How did you do this?” the father asked, surprised. “Simple, dad” the son answered. “Before you cut up the newspaper page with the world map I managed to see its other side. It showed a man, and I know what a man looks like, so I put together the man. When I finished fixing him, the world too was fixed.” This I told the children in Susya, and to avoid any misunderstanding I added that building the world is not always in our hands, for there’s always someone ready to destroy it. But we can build ourselves in order to be on the builders’ side.

They listened, and then ran off to the small artificial lawn donated there recently by an international organization, and asked Mia to teach them Capueira moves.

Originally we planned to visit Umm al-Kheir, but Mia seemed to have had her fill of destruction for one day so we headed back home.

The next day, my friend Ali from Tuba told me that the Israeli army had demolished 4 cisterns filled with water and uprooted trees in Dekeika desert village. Mia was next to me so I shared this with her. “Grandma”, she said, “what kind of a world is this?”

I answered her: it’s a world that enables anyone to choose where to lead his/her actions – to destroy or to build, to sow evil or compassion. “In my own bit of life, dearest Mia, all of life is reflected, and I master my choice there.”

A little bit of objection tried to remind me that I had already written this in one of my stories. I wouldn’t listen. I am proud to write it again. For the demolishers will do it again, and the builders will build again. ????? ??? ???  באום אלחיר.jpg????? ??? ???  באוםאלחיר.jpgהפאזל בסוסיא.jpg

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  • chrisrushlau  On July 18, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    You are in the best of caring hands. Be careful to continue your entire course of treatment.

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