Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Dream Deferred

While clearing out my yahoo account of old emails today I found this communication I had with my sons last April after they had returned to the states following their father's funeral. I was full of plans for my little house in the village. Ten months later there has been a dramatic change as Israelis are no longer allowing Americans into the West Bank not even real estate owners like myself. They've already confiscated 700 dunums of the family land. Will they take my little
house as well?

Sorry I'm late writing you back. On the plane trip back I was surrounded by Christian Pilgrims from Lubbock, Texas. The guy next to me had an "Israel" ball cap on. I was asking him about what he had seen. They spent a few hours in Bethlehem, none in the Church of the Holy Seplucre or any at all in Arab Jerusalem. But they did spend two days at a resort/casino in the Dead Sea. It even had an Elvis impersonator. These are the same geniuses who brought us George W.
The shirt is probably mine.

I had written:

Dear Adam and Rashid,

Naseer was here last night to help me with my
microphone. Marwan in Beit Jala had given it to me.
He decided it was defective and will drive me to
Ramallah tomorrow to buy another one. I also plan to
buy some movies on CDs so I have something to do here
in the evenings and to go by Nora's to pick up the
Jawwal (cell phone). He said I should walk around in
the village and get acquainted with the ladies in the
village. I told him I have trouble walking and would
have a problem. I gave him that new gray sweater
with the zipper. Did one of you give that to Sami?

This morning I decided to walk as far as I could. I
went all the way to the forest. I understand now why
so many people come here on the weekends to enjoy the
view. Naseer said Saturday there were 100 cars here. I
told Naseer last night that it’s a shame the village
needs to build a larger road when outsiders are making
it necessary by driving here for free. He agreed. He
said he’s had an idea for awhile of turning the forest
into a park where people pay to come. That way there
would be money for maintenance, road building, a
community center, tennis courts, picnic tables and the
people who come will be aware the community is
watching them so they will behave better. I noticed
they’ve dumped trash everywhere. He said he had
planned to work on it if he lives here when he
marries. I encouraged him to live here and procede. I
wish I could work on a project like that, but the
community would probably ban me because I’m a woman.
Naseer has no idea who owns the forest land. I think
the first step would be to find the answer to that. Do
you know? Does the family own that land?

As I was walking back a car stopped with three men in
it. They said they were looking for a farm and could I
direct them. I asked what was the family name? They
said Nassar. I replied that was my family.They were
looking for the goats. I got in the car and showed
them where the farm was. By then my legs were
beginning to smart. However, it occurred to me I
probably shouldn’t have gotten into a car with
three men I didn’t know. They spoke perfect English
and one man said he had just returned to the West Bank
from Memphis, Tennessee where he lives.

It’s still cold and I’m keeping warm with an electric
radiator I found here. Everyone says it’s very
expensive to heat with electricity. I mentioned it to
your aunt in El Bereh. She said one month won’t be
that much and since I’m still sick with this virus
I picked up in Beit Jala I need to keep warm.
I also found an electric heating pad for the bed.
I’ve been using it and the heat is having a
therapeutic affect on my knees. I wake up in the
morning with joints that are less stiff.

Salaam took Sami’s clothes to Cidi's (grandfather’s)
house last night so that the villagers could come
and get what they want. I’ve packed things away
in his suitcase that I believe you will want to
keep. I found six prayer rugs, about five of those
little white beanie caps, several worry beads,
a couple of kafiyahs and the long white dress that
the men here wear around the house and under their
robes. I plan to give away all the metal chairs.
They’re old, dirty, and ugly. Counting them he had
sixteen chairs here. It’s as though he was
planning a convention. There are seven of the
plastic chairs. They can be washed and stacked
when not in use.

I found that the sofa and love seat belonged to
your aunt Rukia. She gave them to him when she
moved into her new house. I don’t mind using them
now that I know they were hers because she is an
immaculate house keeper.

The whole place is looking decidedly better
now that so much stuff has been removed. I gave Salaam
two pairs of knit pants I had brought for Sami and he
didn’t wear. I noticed she wore one pair to school
yesterday. She was also wearing a pair of the earrings
Adam brought that I gave her. They make her look
prettier. She’s coming back today and I plan to ask
her to help me scrub all the floors. She fixed that
leak in the bathroom. It was just the bidet faucet was
turned off in the wrong direction. She’s washed two
loads of clothes for me since I returned on Sunday.
That includes all the sheets and the pink ruffled slip
covers on the living room furniture. I don’t think
I’ll put them on again. The furniture looks better

Adam did you leave your blue knit shirt here
deliberately or did you forget it? It looks like a
good shirt. I left your film exactly where you placed
it so you can find it when you return. Otherwise I’ve
turned that entire cabinet into a combination closet
and dresser for myself. The other old wooden cabinet I
plan to move next to the back door. That way it can
serve as a coat closet and cabinet for clean towels as
it will be next to the bathroom. Salaam enjoys
cleaning and she’s young and strong so maybe she can
help me with that project. I’ve packed clean sheets
away in an old cardboard suitcase I found and pushed
it under my bed. Remember all this in case you come
here after I’m gone. Back to the states I mean. I’m
not planning death for a long while.

I had Naseer inspect the olive oil cans last night. He
said two are totally rancid. He’ll give them to the
soap maker later when he wants them. Of the other two
containers only one is potable and it’s extremely
light. I’ll be glad when that is all gone so I can
remove the pallet. I want it outside. My next project
is to empty the metal cabinet on the verandah. Then I
plan to set it outside to hold things I don’t want in
here. If I can paint it the same color as the metal
trim on the house it shouldn’t be an eyesore.

When I start to fix up the house my very first project
even before finishing and painting the walls will be a
new kitchen. I envision an L shaped two wall kitchen
with a sink under the window and cabinets running
across that wall and along the wall where the
refrigerator is now. With the stove from your cousin,
a new refrigerator and micro wave the entire house will
be more comfortable. Next I would like to finsh and
paint the inside walls of the existing house. My
next project will be an additional room on the back
and the verandah windows glassed in. After all that it
should be a nice, comfortable house with a million
dollar view on all sides.

When I return from the states Naseer plans to set my
computer up to the high speed DSL. He said I can do
that for about $50. per month. Since I’m trying to
sell the products from Bethlehem over the Internet
that will be a business necessity.

I just wanted to keep you both aware of all I’m doing.
Let me hear from you. I miss you both.

Lots of love,


These were my dreams ten months ago. They've been deferred
indefinitely. Even the promise of help from my Congressman
has brought nothing. I'm wondering now if I'll ever see the
lovely little house on the side of a small mountain that my
late husband told everyone who would listen that he had built
especially for me. The Israelis have confiscated 700 dunums
of the family's land. Will my little house be next?



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