‘As they left’ From Susan Abulhawa’s ‘Mornings in Jenin’


This is a sample of short story…



From Susan Abulhawa's 'Mornings in Jenin'


As they left


Ari Perlstein left to begin medical studies shortly after attending Hassan and Dalia's wedding, but although each had gone his own way, the two friends did not completely lose touch with each other. When Basima died, Ari took a leave from school to mourn her passing with Hassan in Ein Hod.


The weather was clear and crisp on the afternoon when Hasan and Ari left the formalities of mourning that would do for forty days. The hypnotic recitation of the Quran sounded from Yehya Abulheja's home and became fainter as Hassan and Ari walked farther away toward the olive groves.

"It's ver bad, Hassan," Ari said. "Zionists have hordes of guns. They've recruited an army from shiploads of Jews arriving every day. You don't know all of it, Hassan. They have armored cars and planes, even.'


Hasan looked about him at the farmland he would one day inherit. It looks like we'll have good crops this year. The sound of a nye swirled over the trees and Hasan instinctively turned toward the cemetery, squinting to see if his father was there. No one. Just a melody, its center carved out and filled with silence, as if the nye were crying.


"Hasan, they're going to take land. They've launched a campaign across the world calling Palestine 'a land without a people.' They're going to make it a Jewish homeland."


"Father has been saying for years that this was going to happen, but it seemed so far-fetched," Hasan said.


"It's real, Hasan. You know the UN is meeting in November and everyone believes they're going to pavilion the land. They are very well organized and you know the British disarmed the Arabs after the revolt years ago. Some of the orthodox Jews in the city have organized anti-Zionist campaign. They say creating a physical state of Israel is sacrilege. But powerful men in America have waged a relentless campaign to persuade Truman to recognize and support a Jewish state here." Ari was clearly shaken.


"How do you feel about it? I mean making a Jewish state here," Hasan asked, squeezing an olive between his fingers to gauge the harvest they might have in November. The harvest will lessen Father's despondency.


" I don't know, Hasan." Ari lowered his eyes, sat down on a stone, and began to toy with his fingers in the dirt. "I'm a Jew. I mean, I think it's wrong. But you don't know what it was like before." Ari's voice began to tremble. "It killed us, what happened, even though we escaped. Have you ever noticed how empty my mother's eyes are? She's dead inside. Father, too. Hasan, you don't know what it was like. And now we aren't sure if we'll be safe. Father is emphatic that what they're doing is wrong and he wants no part in it. But it isn't safe for us anymore. There's talk the British are going to pull out. Then it’s inevitable. They're determined this land will become a Jewish state. But I think if the Arabs just accept it, it'll all be fine and we can live together."

Hasan sat on the ground beside Ari. "But you just said they want a 'Jewish' state."


"Yes. But I think they'll let the Arabs stay." The words came out before Ari could stop them.


"So these immigrants will let me stay on my own land?" Hasan's voice rose.

"Hasan, that isn't what I meant. You're like a brother to me. I'd do anything for you or your family. But what happened in Europe…" Ari's words faded into the awful images they'd both seen death camps.


Hasan squeezed another olive, as if trying to pinch Ari's words from the air where they hung like a betrayal.


"Exactly, Ari. What Europe did. Not the Arabs. Jews have always lived here. That's why so many more are here now, isn't it? While we believed they were simply seeking refuge, poor souls just wanting to live, they've been amassing weapons to drive us from our homes." Hasan was not angry as he sounded because he understood Ari's pain. He had read about the gas chambers, the camps, the horrors. And it was true: Mrs. Perlstein's eyes looked as if life had packed up and left them long ago. One, two, three…eighteen pretty pearls.



Anticipating the conflict that lay ahead, Hasan said, "If the Arabs get the upper hand in the Old City, go to my aunt Salma's house. You know where it is, she has a big house and you can hide there."