All posts filed under: Grief and Loss

Making homes out of numbness

“Are you sure this does not come in any other color?” I ask with the face children make when they do not want to eat their green beans. “Yes, I am sure. This is the hot color of this summer,” the salesperson informs me with mild irritation that I did not already know that. That is how I found myself on a Greek beach in a fluorescent pink bikini. I am a creature of forest greens and soothing ivories and maybe teal on an optimistic day and, here I was, floating in the water in the loudest of pinks. My pupils expand to accommodate the rush of color. Municipal laws in Jerusalem require that buildings be faced with local stone and my images of the city reflect this uniformity. My Jerusalem was a photograph in white and pink, of an orange night-time glow courtesy of the street lamps. The greens and blues of Greece, the fluorescent pinks, diversify my color range in a way that forces me to squint. I feel naked in Greece. I …

Kindling

  “They” say there are certain things a Greek woman “should” be able to do. You know, “before she gets married.” Make good Greek coffee [or, as it is more commonly known, Turkish coffee, but do not say that if your grandmother is listening]. Cook the perfect pastitsio. *Insert other quite gendered expectations here.* My father had a slightly different idea about the capabilities his daughter should develop. He deemed it essential that I know how to roast lamb on a spit, lest I ever go without a Greek Easter in any corner of the world. He also thought his girl should know how to get the fireplace running, starting at age 10. I watched him roll up newspapers for kindling, strategically placing them between the bigger pieces of wood. I giggled as he blew air into the fireplace. I heard it howl. Towards the end of his life, my father lost his vision to complications arising from glaucoma. He had only a foggy impression of the woman I was slowly becoming. We could no …

November 17

[inspired by Kim, Dominique, and my father, always.] Decades ago “We are not armed. We are not armed. We are not armed. […] Brothers, brothers, brothers-soldiers, you will not raise your guns. You will not shoot to kill your brothers. [audible tanks rolling up to the gate] Brothers soldiers, brothers soldiers, how is this possible! How is it possible that you would shoot your brothers! How would you allow Greek blood to be spilled. [begins to recite Greek national anthem]” In the beginning of November 1973, a civil resistance movement gained momentum against the military junta that had ruled Greece since 1967. On November 14, 1973, students locked themselves in the Polytechnic University of Athens to protest against the censorship and restrictions of freedom and civil liberties that had occurred during the dictatorship. The students set up an independent radio station and began to broadcast non-violent messages of civil resistance. The clip translated above was the last broadcast before this happened: In the clip of the student begging soldiers not to fire, one can hear …

Parallel narratives of grief

I have been thinking about grief and, this time, I cannot credit Joan Didion. Believe me, I have tried to celebrate beautiful fall light and the exquisiteness of gummy candy in Jerusalem’s markets. I have tried to take a momentary breathing break from thinking about the paradoxes. I live above Burgers Bar and embrace privileged-world-problems like “my apartment smells like hamburgers.” I read New York Times articles like this, which epitomize privileged-world-problems, and then ponder the closest location of macarons or cupcakes. In the airiness of macarons, I find a bubble. A woman who has lived in the Middle East for a while told me that without the bubble, I will not survive. And yet, I cannot evade the big questions and it seems Jerusalem asks them continuously. I arrived here to find the country wrapped up in the story of Gilad Shalit. Shalit was taken hostage by Hamas militants when he was serving as an Israeli Defense Forces combat soldier in 2006. In October, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoner in exchange for Shalit’s return. The …