Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goodbye Letter

"My beautiful mother passed away three year ago after a graceful battle with Ovarian Cancer."

Dear Mom,

I hope that wherever you are, this finds you well.
Last week, I had to teach a book about a woman’s experience with cancer. During classes, I explained to my students the subtle and not too subtle details of being a cancer patient. Mom, I think I’m getting over cancer. It scares me immensely.

In the past three and a half years, I’ve taken comfort in knowing that whenever I’m incredibly sad, I could resort to worst parts of our life together. To the nights when you couldn’t sleep, to the chemotherapy sessions, to the falling hair, to the last night at home when you wanted crème Brule and you were so sick that Tareq and I had to move you around the house on a blanket. Everything in your body hurt and I couldn’t even touch you. This, to this day, remains my escape when the world crumbles down in my face (and you must know, they’re always little crumbles so don’t worry).

I miss you more than I can possibly fathom without getting entirely overwhelmed. When I look at your pictures I miss every inch of your embrace, your eyes, the way you said “hello” when you called me, and all of our fights. I sit and wonder these days, if you’re proud of me, if you’re looking down and telling whoever is sitting next to you that I’m your daughter, your sunshine that just keeps getting brighter. I wonder if you forgive me better than I forgive myself.
So, without knowing the answer, and without entirely believing anything in my heart, I chose, on this beautiful Friday, to let you go. I want your soul to fly over vast valleys and I want your spirit to watch a waterfall from the top of a mountain. I want you to fall in love and make up for all the pain you felt bringing us into this world, and the guilt you felt when you knew you were leaving us.

Mom, I think you are the most beautiful woman in the world. Your smile will always remain one of the best things that have graced this planet. You have been an amazing mother, a kind daughter and the most precious friend.

I hope you find sometime to visit me and tell me all about your adventures. When you do, I’ll tell you all about mine.

I love you, entirely,


Sunday, March 25, 2012

A letter to Motherhood

the following entry is just for fun. wishing all mothers a happy belated mother's day fully knowing that your job is never done.
by: R.Kafri

Dear Motherhood;

Hello. I don’t suppose you recognize my voice. In fact I am quite sure you are stunned at my audacity in contacting you so early in the game. After all it has only been four months since I have joined your fearless frontlines, but if you could, just for a few minutes, listen to me, I would be forever grateful…Moherhood, you are kicking my butt, any chance you can ease up on me? I know the request is quite funny. I can only imagine your graceful, beautiful goddess self-you know the kind that glides not walks- having a hearty laugh over this rooky’s plea, my very not so graceful, disheveled, not showered for days, spit up filled shirt wearing self. I should probably not ask or pray for easier days. I should just be surprised and thankful when they do happen. Right? After all I have the toughest job in the world-I am a mother (maybe if I stand in front of the mirror, and repeat it over and over it will sink deeper into my brain, oh don’t worry my heart has no problems with it, it was sold on this new title on the first day; it is the practical part that wants everything systemized that gets challenged every now and then.)

Please know that it is not the obvious big sacrifices that are so painful to make. It certainly is not the I will become a stay at home mom for the coming seven months and give up the promotion of my life sacrifice. And it certainly is not I will choose a different career path to accommodate my new post in life-Mother. Those are obvious and come to me as second nature. It is the I will sacrifice my shower to feed my child and risk everyone avoiding me at Friday morning brunch, because I STINK. Or I will give up sleep, until the babies sleep, and risk becoming legally insane. Or I will give up an hour of rest to cook dinner early so I can feed the babies, put them to bed and have one uninterrupted meal (that NEVER works by the way). Or I will sacrifice eating altogether so I can change the babies and get them ready for their doctor’s appointment, only to arrive LATE yet again…And the list goes on..

I am sure you are in stitches over this letter and wonder why anyone would bother telling you any of this. Actually I am almost ashamed to be saying these things outloud. But I am sure that every new mother has thought about these things and was too afraid to admit them. So forgive me for asking again, can you please go easy on me, and other mothers like me. I ask you to please remember that just a few months ago, we were carefree, sometimes careless individuals who could have not fathomed holding a life in their hands. And by the way can you please ask other more trained soldiers in your frontline to stop telling the biggest white lie known to human beings? It does not get easier after the first three months. I KNOW, by now, that the shit has yet to hit the fan (excuse my French, I should probably learn new vocabulary now that I am raising children), that once those little feet hit the ground, they will hit them running and that is most certainly accompanied by cyclones of chaos, toys, and long hours of baby tv. But I am also SURE that with these tiny cyclones of madness come hurricanes of contagious laughter that can melt icebergs, and floods of excitement for the countless firsts, and endless days trips, play dates, and lunch dates with Teta, Khalto and Amto (grandma, mother’s sister, and father’s sister). I understand that the happiness that has come my way will only get bigger, louder and better…and the challenges will also get bigger, louder and harder…

Motherhood, I fully realize that my daily sacrifices seem trivial in the face of world hunger and the many starving children that do not have neither breast milk nor formula, so forgive me for my selfishness. I am also aware that given the country I live in, I am so lucky for the plethora of bounty we have, and that unlike most mothers who live elsewhere I don’t need an Oprah special to remind me of poverty, hunger, apartheid, oppression and suffering as it resides just a couple of streets away. I am fully aware of all my fellow mothers whose children are sick, or imprisoned or injured. And I KNOW that it is only a stroke of blessed fate that my children were born into this family where they will find endless nurture, love, and colorful childhood memories to cheer up an entire nation. Please know that I am thankful for the plenty of everything…

But, I still cannot help but want to ask for your help. If you could just grant me the grace, the intelligence, the patience, the compassion, the strength and most important the health to live it all, the bravery and the courage to admit not to always enjoy it all and the long life to look back and smile at it all, for me, my husband and our tiny village of loved ones helping us through it all. That is all I ask. See, quite simple isn’t it?

Thank you for entertaining my words and taking the time to listen. I think I am done for now…Oh no, rest assured you will be hearing from me again…very soon. Oh and one more thing, before I let you go, since it is mother’s day here, and I really want to bake a cake for my mother, is it too much to ask for an easy day today? Thank you, Motherhood. Talk to you soon.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Diaries of a Daily Commuter:Next Stop...

by: R.Kafri

Thank you Israel! As a daily commuter from Ramallah to Abu Dis, and someone who has been delayed in Qalandia anywhere from one hour to three hours, only to turn around and travel through rural areas to get home after a long day of teaching and sculpting young minds, and someone who has sat in her car 3, 4 5, 6, 7 and 8 months pregnant in the white hot summer sun at the entrance of Azariyyeh waiting for the random checkpoint to be removed so I can travel exactly five minutes to get to campus, and the nearest bathroom, I want to thank you. Thank you so very much for this ingenious idea, this amazing creation of yours, this beautiful surreal, euphoric notion….The Peace Train, a railroad track that runs around the West Bank connecting Palestinian cities, illegal settlements and Israeli cities altogether. Oh no, please, this is not unreal at ALL; this is not in the least bit a ridiculous, unrealistic, crazy idea at all. Will you be including a stop in Gaza too?

Just out of curiosity, how will this work exactly? Will you provide recorded announcements clearly explaining what a passenger is to do when arriving at the next stop? I imagine a very serious deep voice with a heavy Israeli accent, coming through loud crisp speakers: “Next stop Ramallah Central Station, if you are Palestinians you may depart the train. Israeli citizens are strictly prohibited from traveling to Area A. Expatriate NGO employees will be subjected to harassment, interrogation and long hour delays the next time they depart Israel via any of its borders, should they travel to the territories.” The doors open for a few minutes then automatically close, and the train travels at high speed. Voice comes back on: “Next stop Jerusalem the Old City, welcome to a land lost, Palestinians not carrying permits are not to exit the train. Special permits are required for those wishing to pray in the Aqsa Mosque. Israelis and foreigners…Welcome to Israel!” Within seconds the train takes off again. I guess fastening your seat belt is a very good idea as the train would be traveling at high speed and considering how short these distances are, screeching halts are to be expected at every station…“Next Stop Maale Adumim: please watch for heavy New Jersey and New York accents that might shock you as you get off the train.”… “Next Stop: Abu Dis, please be advised what once used to be a suburb of Jerusalem is now nothing but a passersby corridor that leads to Bethlehem. Traveling to Area C is not recommended due to political unrest, unless you are a settler looking for a cheap mechanic to fix your car.” Of it goes again, swallowing the land with all its flashing scenes… “Next Stop: Bethlehem…the cradle of Christianity…Christian pilgrims may depart the train only if this is part of their Holy Land/Israel Tour, if you are traveling through the West Bank, please see the expatriate advisory note on harassment, and possible arrest when attempting to depart the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.” The train goes off again, you hang on really tight as it speeds through the hills passing one settlement after the other…. “Next stop: Kiryat Arba, please watch for armed fanatic settlers, any suspicious looking Palestinian is at risk of being shot…DEAD…in the HEAD. Also we would like to advise you not offend any incoming passengers by sitting in their seats or any seats for that matter…tell you what if you are Palestinian, we strongly recommend you move to another car, or depart the train altogether. Your life may be at serious risk…Next stop…….

Forgive me, I should probably give you a chance to explain this proposed project, I got carried away in your La La Land conjuring up fast trains carrying Palestinians, Israeli and settlers all in the same confined space. But seriously, there are so many questions that need to be answered. Who will sell the train tickets? Who will collect them? And most important how will the money be divvied up, will the Palestinian Authority keep the income that comes from tickets sold in the West Bank? Will you offer snacks? Kosher and Halal? What will the cars look like? To avoid conflict, will you designate certain areas to Palestinians and others to Israelis and settlers, perhaps the back of the car-stand only-for Palestinians? I think Rosa Park might just walk out of her grave if you do that. What about security? Isn’t that your main concern always….security…Israel’s right to defend itself? How will you maintain it, railroad checkpoints? “Next stop a random railroad checkpoint, the train will come to a sudden and forceful stop; you may lose balance and drop your belongings on the floor. Please watch out for any luggage that may fall off from the overhead compartments. Palestinian Authority passport carriers please step out of the train for random check…this check is for your own security and safety. So what if you feel disrespected and humiliated. Security comes first…” Oops I am sorry, here I go again…did not give you the chance to quite explain… Just one more thing and I hate to be the one to rain on your parade of great imagination (you should genuinely consider writing the next Harry Potter series with this imagination), but in order to build the railroad track, won’t you confiscate more land like you did when you built the bypass roads? Again I hate to be a party pooper here, but if you keep confiscating lands, there will be no place for us to live don’t you think? Or wait is that the point? The aim? The goal? "Next Stop…Diaspora…”