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Safi Abdi

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Living side by side in Palestine
By Safi Abdi
Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Living side by side in Palestine... is it possible?

It was early in the morning when they came. My father and elder brother had just returned from the mosque and Mother was nursing my baby sister. I had just gone back to bed after finishing the dawn prayers. My little brother Ahmed lay in his bed, snoring and talking to himself in between the snoring; a habit he developed a few months back after witnessing his playmate’s death in an Israeli raid in our neighborhood. Ahmed was seven years younger than me and had just turned six a few days earlier. Just as I was about to doze off to sleep again I heard the door bang open, followed by shuffling of feet. Fearing the worst and wondering who in their right mind would visit so early in the morning, I ran out of the room. Bad news was usually more dramatic; heralded as it were by the arrival of tanks, fires and explosions. 

There in the middle of our living room stood a whole family of seven. Two adults and five children, four boys and a girl, ranging from mid teens to a boy of about Ahmed’s age. Except for the mother and the girl whom I assumed to be around my age, they wore black jackets, black hats, black trousers and black shoes. The father and the boys had what seemed like several thin pony tails dangling on each side of their ears. Aha! Jews! I muttered to myself.

The father had a long beard and carried a huge revolver in his hands while the rest carried two pieces of luggage each, with the mother struggling with the bulkiest of all. It was a strange sight and for a moment I thought I was dreaming. I rubbed my eyes and refocused on the apparition in front of me. Even though it was dark outside, we had the lights on in the living room and I could see the whole scene as in broad daylight.

I looked around the room to locate my family. My father, my big brother and Mother with the baby in her arms were all huddled together on the big sofa.

“You!” the strange man with the beard and side tails pointed the revolver in my direction. I flew off my feet and landed on my father’s lap from where I gaped at the strange family.

“Now, Sir,” my father coughed, “would you please be so kind as to tell us what this is all about?”

The man turned to his woman, “Give me the paper!”

As the woman’s hands unclasped, the suitcases came down hurtling to the floor; with a single swipe the woman reached for a shoulder bag that had escaped my notice until now. She quickly unzipped the bag and produced a small piece of paper. Still keeping his revolver in the air, the man snatched the paper from his wife and as he read out the contents a cold shiver ran down my spine: I wasn’t dreaming. And this wasn’t just someone else’s nightmare. It was my turn to vacate my bed: 

The Zionist regime of Israel hereby invites Mr. Ari Benjamin and his family to dwell on the land of Palestine and grab any land or house they may fancy. Should the dwellers of the chosen home, land, etc, make fuss, Mr. Ari Benjamin has full right to either shoot them on the spot and be done with them instantly or tie them up nicely until such a time as the usurped family is able to exist nicely.

Co- signed by the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the United States of America and supported by a whole bunch of onlookers, the EU, the UN and members of the Arab League.

Unable to contain himself, my father burst out laughing. My mother was in shock. “How could you laugh at this, Yusuf,” She whispered. “This is so silly.” And then my brother was laughing, too, and before we knew it, the strange wife had picked up her luggage from the floor and was hastily marching to the door, at which her children laughed, laughing and kicking at their suitcases.

“What’s so funny?” the man cracked at everyone as he made a grab for his wife and her suitcases pinning her to the floor. 

“Us,” the woman tried to escape his grip, “that’s what’s funny, us, invaders intent on occupying other people’s homes, that’s what’s funny. And I ain’t even laughing!”

“Now, now, darling,” said the man, “This is our home, once we manage to get rid of these flies, we will renovate it and make it to our liking. I promise. If you wish we could keep these folks, too. Remember how you’ve always wanted to have your own slave hands…”

“I’m hungry,” cried the youngest boy, “and I’m tired of carrying these bags. When are we going to settle down?”

“Now Sharon, take it easy dear, I promise we’ll have breakfast in our kitchen. Give me a minute, will you?”

“I want my own room,” said the girl looking in my direction. “How many bedrooms do you have in this place?”

“Just three,” I said as a matter of fact. The young lady might as well know she won’t have the luxury of having her own room. I didn’t. “And they are very, very, very small.” I added for effect.

“Just three small rooms?” the girl cried. “You lied to me, Dad!”

It was lighting up outside the window and soon I was hearing voices, but I wasn’t sure if anyone knew about our situation as I couldn’t detect any movements outside our door.

“Yes, our rooms are very small as you can see from this tiny room we all are in right now,” my mother said sounding very pleasant. “How many rooms did you have where you came from?”

“We live on a ranch in Texas,” the strange wife returned. “We are very strange folk, that’s why we are here in these cramped rooms.”

“Woman!” the man glared at his wife. “Have you gone stupid? Haven’t I told you that once we’ve got us a spot we’ll be annexing the whole area?”

“Now…what?” My father cleared his throat again. “Are you guys staying for breakfast, or what?”

The man pointed the revolver at my father. “Breakfast, I like the sound of that word... breakfasting together and living together, side by side…Where shall we sit?”

“Yes, that’s a good one, Sir, we all should be sitting together, side by side in peace,” my mother said shuffling to her feet and handing my brother the baby, she kind of glided towards the kitchen; I followed suit. The man didn’t seem to mind at all.

“So what’s going to happen?” I whispered as Mother went about lighting the stove and getting stuff from the fridge. “What will happen to us?” I pulled at her sleeve. Mother took some change from the kitchen cupboard and gestured to me as if speaking in sign language to go down to Ali’s bakery for some bread.

I quickly retraced my steps and holding up my hand to show the coins, I asked the man to let me fetch the bread to which he nodded with a shake of his revolver.

“But don’t you try anything funny, girl!” he threw after me as I reached for the doorknob, “Arabs! You can’t trust them, can you?”

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Reviewed by Keith Rowley 8/18/2007
It's good to hear another voice from Israel/Palestine.
But so, so sad.

Reviewed by Paul Grimen 6/24/2006
The Israeli government should be reading this. welldone!
Reviewed by alex ancira 6/4/2006
i dont get it... can you explain it?
Reviewed by Lori Favela 5/20/2006
Hi Safi. I'm an English teacher and I would like to use your story in my class. What do you think?
Reviewed by Janet Bellinger 3/4/2006
Well done, Safil
Reviewed by tahir haneef 2/24/2006
touching.stark reality depicted in proper light.keep up
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 9/22/2005
well done
Reviewed by Safi Abdi 5/25/2005
Cynthia sista, good stuff you posted here...LOL!

Fyi, deleted redundant line, many thanks for the feedback!
Reviewed by Cynth'ya 5/24/2005
Wonder if the Jewish Texans were from "Crawford."
NAWWWWW, couldn't be any rootin' tooin' resemblance.
This would make a great one act play in my opinion, in alternative theatre of course. The only thing that slowed my reading down as I concentrated on this was the 3rd paragraph segment:

<But hadn’t I just finished doing my prayers and returned to my bed when I heard the noise>,

Might try rewording or eliminating all together. Very good curious lead statement also. And it did make me get on the FOX news network, read this as a commentary in your honor to the entire world, then smile in the camera lens and challenge our entire congressional sell-out with these words:

"Fillibuster THIS!"

Very very VERY creative work. Kind of an Anne Frank with a twist on middle east conflict that ran the gamut of emotions.

blessin's, thanks for sharing this my Sistah!
Reviewed by Mark Rockeymoore 5/19/2005
The only thing I have to say is, why they gotta be from Texas? LOL Some of us are cool, like me and Karen Vidra! Ha! On the real tho', I also thought this was quite the satirical play upon reality, as the powers-that-be continue their power and land grab, will covering ultimate intentions in rhetoric and apocalyptic fervor. Your pen is knowledgable, your writing style easy to follow and visualize. I've never seen any Hassidim down here in Texas, but if you say they're here, I believe you! A prescient write, Safi. I'll be back!
Reviewed by Sadia G 5/19/2005
An interesting parody based on the real life scenario taking place today!enjoyable reading,keep up the good work!i always appreciate how you bring something new into each new article of work you publish!Look forward to more postings by you(:
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 5/19/2005
great story, safi; nice to see you again! well done!

(((HUGS((( and much love, your friend in america, karen lynn in texas. :(

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