The Land, The Gun, The Olive Tree

In Memory of Nakba

By Sameeha Elwan

19th May, 2o10

He closed his eyes when the smell of the thyme found its way to the deepest memory his mind is still tirelessly clinging to. He opened them with a persistence to inhale as much of the smell as he can. Something that would help him live on the memory a bit longer. Something that would compensate the years of wait. They didn’t give him a chance to preserve that smell deep in his heart sixty two years ago; but it has been in his memory locked, never been forgotten since. He, now, couldn’t believe his eyes when the smell was combined with the real vision of the field. His field. He wished “Um Salem” would be there to pinch him as she always did when he was trapped between a vision and a reality. She was not there to share him the vision. “It’s not the time for mourning”, he thought. He was there, at last. For sixty two years, the scene of the olive tree he and his grandfather once planted and he watched growing up never escaped his memory along with the hymn his grandmother used to sing him while baking bread on “Taboun”. He remembers some of its lyrics. They were always so patriotic. “The land, the gun, the olive tree”.

His sons and grandsons have always mocked him for keeping the key of a house that most probably has turned into a military barrack, a prison maybe, or might have been simply inhabited by other people who if were willing to steal the house could never steal the memories the house arouse in him. They never believed him when he said he will return one day. They should see him right now, approaching that olive tree to shelter from the burning rays of the sun. He was burnt out. His old boy was covered with sweat, but he never stopped walking towards it. Towards his olive tree with his voice murmuring the hymn his grand mother was singing to him, “The land, the gun, the olive tree.”

“Grandpa, it’s raining, grandpa. You have to get back into the tent”.
“Yebna. Yebna. The gun. The Olive tree”
“We’re not in Yebna, grandpa. Don’t you get tired of having the same dream every single day?”
It took him a minute as usual to go back to where he really was. It was Not Yebna; he realized when he opened his eyes. It was his little granddaughter who was clinging into his clothes, trying to find shelter from the drops of rain which have now turned the camp into a swamp.
“Never. It is that dream of return that keeps us alive. Lobna” he bitterly answered

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