Friday, November 27, 2015

What is a homeland?

“What is a homeland?"

She leaned forward, surprised, as though she didn’t believe what she heard. She asked with a delicacy that contained uncertainty: “What did you say?”

“I said, what is a homeland? I was asking myself that question a moment ago. Naturally. What is a homeland? Is it these two chairs that remained in this room for twenty years? The table? Peacock feathers? The picture of Jerusalem on the wall? The copper lock? The oak tree? The balcony? What is a homeland? Khaldun? Our illusions of him? Fathers? Their sons? What is a homeland? Is it the picture of his brother hanging on the wall? I’m only asking.”

Excerpt from 'Return to Haifa' by Ghassan Kanafani, translated from Arabic

Good question, Ghassan. What is it that makes me think of this 'homeland' everyday? A land that I was not born in, a land where I never lived? What makes me cling to other people's memories it created, scrutinize its black and white photos, follow closely its news with a heart twinge? Where does it come from - this deep sense of nostalgia, for a time and place I've never officially belonged to, that never seems to let go of me?

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