Letter to Ghassan Kanafani on the 66th Anniversary of the Nakba

Ghassan Kanafani. 'Even the dead grow old without a homeland.'

Dear Ghassan,

On our birthday this year I turned 31 and you turned 78. Even the dead grow old without a homeland.

Do you know that we live and die in diaspora now?  Do you know that Palestinian refugee camps are swollen with Iraqis and Syrians now?

Too many Jihadi songs end with the refrain “ForFalasteen”, but Baba says terrorists can’t read maps.

The march to Jerusalem doesn’t start fromKunduz. And I definitely cannot see Haifa from Cairoya “Ansar Beit el Maqdis”.

Last week in Beirut I went to the races for the first time and bet 5$ on a horse named Thawra.

She lost.

But I met a little boy who said he was from Sabra.

In Jordan, Syrian children say they come from Zaatariand Azraq not anymore Homs or Hama.

Little boys shouldn’t come from refugee camps.

Dear Ghassan,

I’ve been thinking a lot about whether it’s easier to start and stay with nothing than to lose everything from one day to the next.

“Always already” – without. 66 years expelled.

Pain is fresh in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya but our story is old.

I was nine when I first realized I shared my birthday with someone else. On the 9th of April each year the public library ran dotty black and white reels of your life, and afterwards we had cake.

I was always curious why you were not showing up at our birthday party. Only years later I realized it was a commemoration not a celebration, or a little bit of both.

Dear Ghassan,

I feel the same way about the Nakba. EverydayNakba.  Each year marks death, dispossession and occupation but also birth, and the celebration of memory and resistance.



15 May 2014

– Jehan Bseiso is a Palestinian poet, researcher and aid-worker currently based in Cairo. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Jordan and studied in Lebanon. Bseiso is currently working on a collection of poems entitled “Conversations Continued”. It is a compilation of real, misheard, and misremembered conversations—always interrupted, never really complete or closed. There’s a chapter dedicated to Palestine, titled Conversations Homeland. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Follow her @jehanbseiso. Contact her at: Jehan.bseiso@gmail.com.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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  1. Dear Ghassan:

    What can I say to ,the situation in Palestine is getting worse everyday .
    It seems that from May 15 until now ,Everyday is a new Nakba ,but nowadays we don’t have people like you who keeps Palestine as priority for them .
    Unfortunately today the responsible members in our country care about everything except palestinian issues and it seems like the right of return become a forgetten issue.
    I’m sorry for what is happening in my homeland but even if all the palestinian goverment doesn’t care I promise that I will always keep remember my first love Palestine and I will teach my children how to love this land until the end .



  2. I wonder, what if he lived, Ghassan! Am sure he would have made a huge difference in our lives as Palestinians, it might have been better, or less worse, but then I think, he survived death; he is still among us with his thoughts, but could he survive the loss, pain, conspiracy and betrayal? I tell myself he would, even though sometimes am convinced that he could not. In the end I relies, we need another Ghassan, we need him/her, not as a human being, we need Ghassan inside our souls, and so many others like him, we need them in our souls, only there.

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