Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Trsansit

I turn to page number 136, the second chapter of my father's autobiography.

"We're approaching Qalandia checkpoint, one of the largest Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. It separates Ramallah residents from southern Palestinian towns and the northern Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Usually at checkpoints, Palestinians get to feel and intimately get in contact with the occupation - over a barrel of a gun. Finally, and after waiting half an hour, the soldier gesticulated with his finger to the transit driver to edge forward, and then he approached the transit with his finger on the trigger," Hat el Haweya" [1] with a tarnished accent. And a moment later "Everyone, step off the vehicle". I looked at the soldier and told him that we have a 6 years old kid, and we can't wait much longer. He looked at Tariq with a look that made him shiver and with a sneer on his face said: "I don't care…""

I vividly remember his contemptuous look, and I remember that transit.

I didn't like these transits, because of its confined movement; limited by Israeli occupation and hindered by checkpoints. Many people tried to shorten the way by taking detours, which consume about the same amount of time as with checkpoints, however, with less humiliation. But still, all of them ride in transits to the same destination.

11 years later in the main square of Nazareth, where I live right now, I saw 11 laborers that were aligned near to each other waiting and sucking on their never-ending cigarettes. And then, a transit stops abruptly in front of them. The sliding door opens, and the foreman counts 10 people. They get swallowed in, but one is left behind, where he watches the transit speeds away before the door is fully closed.

He then lights up another cigarette and walks away… I have never thought that I would find the transit here as well. But this one is different; it takes a different course, an immutable one, on where it rapidly moves, driven by the hectic and constant pace of life without impediments and with no checkpoints.

I never wanted to ride a transit again, but last year I did. When my father lost his job, I felt compelled to work and financially contribute to my family, thus, I found myself in the laborer's transit. It was different from that one in Ramallah, for the ride was more mundane and with no checkpoints. I felt differently, I was more confident and quite independent. I had a goal, and I was determined to achieve, and no checkpoint or a soldier could dissuade me.

The human being's character is a product of certain circumstances, environment or background. And definitely, my condensed neighborhood - the core of the proletarian stratum in Nazareth, being a Palestinian living in Israel, and experiencing the laborers' and the Palestinian "transits" has defined me, and made me realize that both transits are part of my life. But most importantly, it enticed me to create my own transit and my own route, away from checkpoints and mundanity.

September 2008




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