House Made of Dawn Essay

May 30, 2013
By , Princeton Junction, NJ
"Now after the intervening years and generations, the ancient blood of this forgotten tribe still ran in the veins of men." (16)

This line reminds me of my grandmother's ancestry and the stories she narrates of the Palestinians who lived before her. My father's mother, affectionately nick-named Teta, raves passionately over her heritage, culture, and, most importantly, the atrocities endured by the civilians of Palestine. Her stories tell of a Holy Land infiltrated by settlers, the "Yahoods," who violently drove citizens out of their hundred year old homes. The rage in her eyes and the bitterness in her voice remain unmatched as she recounts the tales of unjust displacement. Until the age of 14, I listened attentively, nodding quietly as I tried to understand my grandmother’s pure, undiluted hatred.

However, these vicious accounts do not characterize her entire life. Nostalgic memories of her treasured English boarding school life were often intermixed with the brutality of her time in Palestine. After proving herself an exceptional student, my grandmother was shipped off to a school in Great Britain at a young age. She often reminisces of her time spent parading through London's streets, marveling at renowned operas, and attending the "best university in Europe," as she proudly boasts. England nurtured her love of learning and her departure back to the Middle East at age 31 is one she seemingly regrets.

Throughout my youth, I considered her two worlds independent of one another. She had never mentioned both in the same sentence, and my younger self never found this odd. Her victimized Palestine remained far off in the Middle East while her precious England existed thousands of miles away. My naive theory drastically changed at age 14. Before then, I hadn’t fully grasped the blatant paradox of her life. Cracking open my Honors European textbook, studying the Balfour Declaration of 1917 for the first time, I skimmed over a piece of information which I reread half a dozen times. The document stated, "His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." In my mind, my grandmother’s two nations were no longer independent, but rather inexplicably entwined. The birthplace of her favorite philosophers, poets, and writers had been the same nation that forever devastated her homeland. Never once had she mentioned England's role in the conflict, for the culpability of her majestic, dreary-skied island was clouded by hundreds of fond memories.
Now, as she relays these tales, the nagging thought routinely creeps into the back of my mind. Her beloved United Kingdom had betrayed her only decades ago, yet she solely lays the blame on the "Yahoods." Her sharp mind retains five languages and her British accent recites Shakespearean sonnets with ease. The accumulated knowledge of over seventy years is far from forgotten; the year 1917 is simply shoved back into the abyss of neglect.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback