Being part of the Palestinian diaspora has felt as if part of myself is always adrift.
It was 2014 in Florida. I wandered the shore alone and came across two figures, gazing out to the same sea that held my attention for so long. I approached them and asked if they spoke Arabic. They did. We got to talking and I asked where they were from. “Falasteen,” Ghada, the older woman, responded.
I remember feeling that same excitement that always hits me when I meet fellow Palestinians scattered along the road of life. Maybe it’s a common feeling Palestinians share because when I replied that I too was Palestinian, Ghada [left] and Tasneem’s faces lit up. I asked where in Palestine they’re from. “Gaza,” Ghada answered.
I didn’t know what to say then. I wondered, should I tell her how the rest of us mourned? How so many outside of Gaza felt heartbreak and horror at the summer’s atrocities? I settled on “Allahy e’einhoom [God help them].”
“Allahy e’ein al jamea’a [God help us all.],” she replied.
Ghada had left 22 years prior.