a story of atoms

This is where I document thoughts that race through my head and swim through my veins.

Warning, if anyone is actually reading through these, prepare yourself for some depressing shit-series ok?

Confession: I feel like everyone but me is happy and successful, living vibrant eventful lives, achieving their goals and i am just.

just.

simply. on hold.

“I think I’m destined to be unhappy, to be depressed, to have mood swings. Destined to feel deeply, be extremely vulnerable, feel every emotion to its fullest, be highly sensitive. I’m destined to never truly find happiness. In people, in the things I do, in my life. I’m destined to be like that because it’s in these times I am the most poetic, the most creative, the most “me”. ” 

quote i just found on tumblr subhanAllah. i truly feel like this is what i am destined to be- too in my head and almost on the verge of something great, just never there. Sure, anybody who has taken basic psychology will tell you that this a limiting thought, but these thoughts do exist and dictate our thinking.

Anyways,  i know this thinking is haram, as we accept what Allah has decreed for us, but sometimes i think: why is everything working so smoothly for xyz whereas i am just a circling in a spider’s web?

I don’t understand. I know based on my faith i should be patient and realize that even if i don’t understand, Allah (SWT) has chosen what is best for us. That I believe- my iman is just shaky lately.

Everything about me is an earthquake.

 

 

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the end

 

There is so much on my mind right now. I will be leaving back to Palestine in a few days, and packing ( repacking, and repacking) has actually made me reflect a bit about this year, this sudden shift in my life.

I haven’t written a proper reflection in ages. This act of writing and reflecting reminds me of home: something I would do often while I was at university. Something I have somewhat abandoned while living here, not intentionally of course. This act of returning to write on my laptop at midnight feels like I’m mentally home. Something I haven’t felt in so long. I’m on my way.

This year was, simply put, intense.

Here is where the writing fails: how do i put all that i have seen and felt into words? Like how do i even begin to tell you what happened and make it concrete?

I have a new pair of eyes now. This year did a lot to me, both good and bad, but it was mainly… I feel like I can’t tell you what happened becasue nothing happened yet everything happened. I can’t explain. I don’t know why, so instead i’ll just tell you what i know at this point of my life.

I feel like this year was a massive hand and just rearranged my vital organs. They are still there. Functioning. But they are in different places now. My heart still beats, my lungs allow me to breathe, i digest more than i knew i could. I’m fine. I’m fine. Just don’t look at my x-ray.

Nobody told me my organs could look like this and i could still live.

But i do.. i guess.

Look, this year was the first time i ever traveled alone. I lived with dear family members, and i was always surrounded by people yet adulthood is lonely.

I learned so much, I can’t even pinpoint what I know now. Maybe in another post. Maybe when I actually know where i am standing. Maybe my organs will find themselves back where they belong.

A good friend i made here told me i was just homesick, which may slightly be true. I love my country and my family, but i think i am homesick for the person i used to be, even though i think, yes the old Lina was confident and ambitious, this Lina is experienced  (kind of) . This Lina is far more realistic. This Lina tried and failed. This Lina is more confused than ever before and doesn’t know who  the hell she is, but she has some sort of idea of who she wants to bein the next five years. This Lina doesn’t know what she wants in the next ten years, but it’ll come inshaAllah.

While I am elated to be on my way home, I am actually ..afraid. I am afraid of meeting old faces with these new eyes and shaking familiar hands with my new skin. I am afraid of looking at my falasteen differently now. I left thinking i could change something, realizing that the world changed me.

I thought i suffered from young adult angst, which maybe i do. Maybe this was just a weird timing. I met so many people at this strange part of my life.

The world is so big and i never knew i could feel so small.

 

Being a teacher puts me in overwhelming situations and sometimes I am left speechless.

Today, in the beginning of  story time, I hear the two students sitting next to me quarreling.

“You’re black.” says to the boy.

“Nooo.” Sara* whines.

What.

“What, what did you say Ahmad* ?” I am genuinely questioning my hearing ability at this moment.

“She’s black.” He answers.

He says black like it’s something dirty. Like it’s something you don’t want to be.

Sara doesn’t quite get it.

How do I answer this.

I know Ahmad is innocent. He reminds me of Whine-the-Pooh  when he laughs but he has a lot of sexist upbringing.

“Blue is for boys.”

“Mariam* can’t can’t carry the (toy) toolbox because she is a girl.”

I have given him lectures about colors and toys. He cries when I yell at him for this: He has never been told otherwise.

And now this.

I don’t want to tell him to not say that again.Sara is Black and she still doesn’t understand the story of her skin and this boy is beginning a conversation. I  don’t want her to think that being Black is bad just because some four year old Saudi boy makes it sound like it is.

“Sara’s skin color is beautiful, right class?” I pat her back.

“Yeeeesss.” My class of mainly Arabs sing in unison.

I look at her, pull out my exposed hand.

“Sara, my skin is brown.” I show her my palms. The back of my hand. My wrist.

My skin is an olive color. A light brown, quite typical for Palestinians, but four and five year olds don’t know what tanned\olive skin is: they know white, black, and brown.

“I am brown too.” She agrees.

Reassurance.

  • Names have been changed for privacy

Diaspora Stories

 

 *Originally Published in PACC’s Literary Magazine August 2017 Issue.

My mother tells me that during the first month of kindergarten, I grew quiet.

Naturally, she found it odd: her daughter had an overflowing mouth, usually pouring with song.  Occupied too much space with her trills and skips and laughter. Now, she slipped into a silence that was two sizes too big.

 

  Mama, I was making room for a new tongue.

 

*

Seven years old.

I am in second grade.

My homeroom teacher assigns each student a country to explore its respective culture. We had to present our project on a poster. Since our class was generally diverse, each student was assigned their homeland as their topic.

Pooja got India. Japera wrote about St. Croix, Virgin Islands.  My best friend Rana was assigned Jordan. I liked the Jordanian flag the best out of the other countries because it looked just like the Palestinian flag, expect with a white star inside the red triangle.

To my surprise, the flag I that was assigned also had a star.

Israel.

I was confused as to why I was assigned the wrong country. I still remember the orange post-it Mrs. P gave me with “Israel” written at the center in blue BIC ink.  It bothered me. I don’t know why, it just did. Mrs. P knew I was from Palestine.

 

The next morning, I handed Mrs. P a note while she was sitting at her desk. I’ve always wanted to sit at her desk and explore all the drawers. It looked a like stationary funhouse with all her shiny star stickers, blue ice globes, and Hello Kitty calculators.

“Since your mom doesn’t want your project to be about Israel, I’ll have to choose another country for you, Lina.” Mrs. P informed, while folding the note in half.

“But, you know,” She begins coaxing.

“Palestine and Israel are the same thing.”

 

 

 

 

The next day, Mrs. P hands me a post-it with my newly assigned country.

See, the funny thing is I don’t remember the name of my new country.  Nor do I remember the photos I pasted onto the poster with Mama’s help. All that I can recall was that my new country was completely foreign to me. While presenting, I discovered that it was alien to the rest of the class as well.

 

I really didn’t like that project.

Everyone else had a lot more fun gluing pictures of their favorite foods and well-known landscapes. Each of my classmates shared something personal about their countries, whereas I had nothing to share. No favorite foods, no pretty landscapes, no silly uncle stories.

 

Rana was lucky.

She had pictures of hummus and falafel and kanafa on her poster. She talked about going back to Jordan during the summer and how her family had always had big breakfasts and how they played marbles in the street or hide and seek at night with all her cousins and neighbors. She told us that her grandfather would always give her one dinar and how she’d spend it on gummy things and Kinder surprise eggs from the village’s supermarket.

 

I liked her presentation the best.

 

*

Being Palestinian is complicated.

Being Palestinian in the diaspora is even more complex.

In simple conversations, we are left to truly ask, “who are we?”

We feel our tongues split into twos and threes.

Imposters in both Palestine and the diaspora.

Sometimes whole. Other times ghost.

Do they know how hard it is to speak when there is wrestling match between two tongues in one mouth?

 

 

 

A woman I just met tells me that I seem so calm.

I laugh.

“Really?” slips from my lips.

I think how I drowned last night. How the morning felt like the shore. How many endings happen at night and how we bury them after dawn.

there are so many stories hiding beneath my skin.

what happens if i don’t give birth.

-i cannot write right now

 

 

فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا’

and some people are so beautiful, that they remind you of ayas in the Quran.

-khalo