a story of atoms

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

Category: Reminiscence

My Tongue: Two Sides of the Atlantic

About two months ago, I was telling my dear aunt how I was interning for a writing position at a local magazine. She, being a woman with a heart made of honey, genuinely  congratulated me as she poured a stream of red tea into a glass mug. My aunt’s family always drinks tea in massive mugs.

“Lina, ra7 toktobe bil Englizey, ou bel 3rabi?” ( Lina, will be you be writing in English or Arabic?” She hands me my glass.

La2, bel Englizey, khalto”( No, in  English, auntie.) I respond as I wrap my two hands around the mug. The warmth of the tea blankets my palms.

“Ah, huo el Englizey  sar loghtk el-um.” ( Ah, English is now your mother tongue, it seems.)”

I feel my tongue split into two.


Graduate school applications are a pain.

Background Section: Language Proficiency.

Select the languages you are proficient in.

Part One-A : I drag the box arrow and in the list of A-starting languages,  I spot Arabic. Click.

Bubble Number 1:Is this your native language?

Yes. Maybe.

Define native.

Speaking bubble: I select Proficient. Reading bubble:Proficient. Writing bubble: Do I choose poorly or fairly? 

Part One-B. (Optional) Select the languages you are proficient in.

Drag the arrow. Scroll through the E-beginning languages.

English. Click.

Bubble: Is this your native language?

Speaking bubble: Proficient.  Reading bubble:Proficient. Writing bubble: Proficient.


I am four years old in a medium-sized kindergarten classroom.

The girl with blonde straw hair whose name I forgot, brings the paper the teacher handed out to her lips. She kisses the middle of it, and then proudly declares: ” I know how to write my name.”

My brows furrow. I look down at my blank page.

I know how to write my name. I think to myself.

Grabbing my  old school yellow Hb-2 pencil, Lina Abdul-Samad was printed right in the center of that crisp page.

I look down at my name. It’s a hard name to write. Not the Lina part, but the obviously Arab-Muslim part.  It’s especially hard for an Arab girl who started school without a word of English in her mouth. For a girl who spoke only Arabic at home. Who didn’t watch  Enlgish T.V. Or had English speaking friends or family.

I bet it’s harder than writing Jessica Smith, or Britney Sanders, or whatever her name was.


A week or so later, I wake up from my regular after-school naps. School made me exhausted. I headed to my school bag that was slacking on the floor. I think my bag was a bali green with blue zippers. Or a pink wih pink zippers. I can’t remember now.

I fetch out a yellow paper from it. There was my name in brown Sharpie ink. Big. Printed in the center. I think my name looks nice in brown on the yellow page. Brown was my favorite color when I was four. Not pink or purple or blue. Brown. It was the color of my eyes and the color of chocolate pudding.

I make way through the beige-painted halls, and I find my  mother in the living room.I hand out the yellow paper. She reads it for a second then hugs me. I ask her what it’s for. Mama explains that it’s a certificate for learning English within a month of school.


I have a complicated relationship with language, with the two languages I know. When I moved back to Palestine, I began noticing that I didn’t know which language to think in. Having two parts of you, fragmented in a thought.


My aunt tells me that she always opens to read my writings online, but she struggles with the language.

Whenever I tell her I publish something, the first question she always asks; ” Bel Arabi?”

I want to tell her yes.


















  1. Praying all my prayers and feeling peace aligning in my heart.
  2. When mama and baba are proud of me.
  3. Igniting the spark of an idea, be it for a story or a research project.
  4. Letting words breathe on paper.
  5. Driving into the blanket of the night.
  6. Reading the words of the Greatest Writer.
  7. Listening to Surat Al-Noor.
  8. Understanding a hard mechanism after hours of dissecting it.
  9. poetry.
  10. genuine embarrassing laughter with the kindest hearts i know.
  11.  the warmth of wavy brown hair.
  12. mama’s hands
  13. nostalgic songs
  14. long bus rides
  15. planning for the future
  16. becoming.

a journey into memory: the Old City

“Oh Jerusalem, the fragrance of prophets
The shortest path between earth and sky”

– Nizar Qabbani , Jerusalem! My Love, My Town

I miss the city of sorrow.

The Old City.

I had to wake up at 5:00 A.M ,ten minutes after the Fajr athan, to reach you at 7:50 A.M. I remember scurrying your roads, all six of us. I walk a bit slower than usual,  even though I am notorious for being with quick feet. With each step on your ancient, neat bricks, the quiet takes me .Your roads are almost empty, except for the the ka3ek man, who sells his baked sesame breads, thyme, and boiled eggs to early workers. Even your four shekel sesame breads are unique.

I envy the workers and shop keepers: they get to experience you at your best. The sky is soothing. Hushed and hurried. Flower-shaped, red umbrellas. Your architecture is it’s own story, written all over you.


Now that I can longer come back to you until I am fifty, ( maybe the occupation will crumble by then), I have been nostalgic for you. I just want to stroll through your roads again in the early morn. Visit Masid Al-Aqsa. Become a part of you.

Alas, I was only a visitor. A foreigner in a land that has become home in two weeks.  Why must politics and law makers separate the two of us?

It’s Eid and I have been aching to merge into you once again.

The Jerusalmites are so blessed.  May Allah (SWT) preserve them and preserve Palestine.


  • Photo Credits: Lina A. Samad

Tell me I’m not naive for still feeling warm under a lilac sky that no longer hugs me to sleep.


You are so selfish,
snatching the best of me
your dirty fingerprints
become the skin I wear
I am no longer my own.

She threw her heart into a sea of nostalgia …and it never returned.

-excerpt from a book i’ll never write

You were once fire.
I can still taste the ashes of your memory. Your face is formed by smoke’s swaying arms. Thick and suffocating. Pollution.

-excerpt from a book i’ll never write