They asked me if I wanted to go back to my country, and I said yes.
‘But you’ll get killed over there,’ they warned.
I was only 14 back then, but my intuitive response was, ‘But it’s my country.’
People have their own countries, don’t they? They wave their flags with pride. I’m no different.
I come from the holy land of Palestine. Our people are not known by everyone outside. Some westerners mistake us for Pakistan. Growing up under occupation meant that you couldn’t own a Palestinian flag. So now when you see me waving my flag, be assured that it’s not something I take for granted.
My country is rich and replete with its scenic and captivating landscapes and water. Its riches include olive trees. Every season, our families go out and pick olives together. They shake the branches so the precious gems fall to the ground. They pickle some and the rest is sent to be pressed to produce golden oil that nourishes our bodies and revives our souls.
Our palm trees stand tall. Their fronds make a rustling music as they sway up high. This kind of sound has always filled me with wonder. It’s the unmatchable music of nature that I never tire of.
The soil of my land is sacred. It’s been watered by the blood of our martyrs and continues to be. Once I got the chance to inhale the aroma of a martyr’s blood. All I can say is: it’s a smell that’s beyond my powers to describe. It’s a fragrance that comes from Paradise to enchant us. To tell us to let go of the earth, and let our souls soar up high.