Teita’s Memories: Reliving the Nakba

United States- Record the stories of those around you, not only if you are Palestinian but especially if you are. They are a strong, doable form of resistance to the state of Israel, which deny and belittle the Nakba. My biggest regret since both my grandfathers passed away is that I never asked them about their Nakba story. I always heard bits and pieces from aunts and uncles, but never my grandfathers personally. Maybe I am being too hard on myself, given that I was of young age when they died. However, I made a promise to myself that from here on out, whenever I am in the same room as a Nakba survivor, I will request that they tell their story. A few months ago, I asked Teita (grandmother) about the Nakba and she replied, “Remembering won’t change anything,” which shut me up immediately; however, I decided to hold my promise. Last night, as we were on a long car ride home, I brought it up with Teita who was more than glad to talk about it in great detail this time to my delight. She told me everything about her life up until the Nakba as if it happened yesterday.

           “Following the passing of my grandfather in Daniyyal, my father left for Yaffa in search of work and landed a job working for a Jewish merchant. He loved living in Yaffa, he mastered Hebrew and with his savings, he purchased a motorcycle which he used as a form of travel back to and from Daniyyal. When he married my mom who was from Lydd, he took her on joy rides on regular basis. Never did they miss an Um Kalthoum show in Palestine. My father used his Hebrew-speaking skills to haggle with Jewish merchants in Yaffa.” She continued, “The beach was walking distance from our home, my friends and I went to the beach every night and played for hours.”  Moving forward, she began telling us about the Zionist invasion of Palestine, “I was 10 years old when we were expelled from Palestine. When Yaffa was invaded, we fled to Daniyyal and stayed there for a month. A village right by Daniyyal was taken over, and we knew we were next. Shortly after, we left for my grandfather’s house in Al-Lydd.  One day, my siblings and I were playing with water in the neighborhood and mama ran out screaming that we must leave immediately. We rushed to put on our shoes but she urgently told us to forget them because we had no time before they attack. We left barefoot in the scorching heat. I never forgot the doll my father bought me; I used to braid her hair every night. Sadly, I had to leave her behind with the rest of my belongings. The worst thing is that when we fled Lydd, my father made the decision to go back to Daniyyal and asked us to continue to Jordan by ourselves. I did not know if I would ever see him again. A while after we parted, my father continued to Ramallah and asked everywhere from shops, schools, mosques and churches if they saw us. Finally, we reunited in Beitunia where my mother sought refuge at her niece’s house. I will never forget the tears that were shed that day. We cried and cried. It was Ramadan, but no one fasted that year. Sheikhs said that due to the suffering we were enduring, we will be excused from fasting.” Teita paused; I asked her if she thought she would return. She sighed and then answered, “I did not think anything. When I went back in the seventies and saw them living in what remained of our houses, the ones we spoke with said they were Germans. I had a sense of relief when I saw the same wheat fields, olive, orange, clementine trees and felt the yesteryears. However, I also saw their highways and their soldiers and I thought this is permanent for sure. They are not going anywhere.” Right then and there I wanted to refute and tell her we will return and we must not lose hope, because when we lose hope, they win. But I held back. “In 1993, my father wrapped himself in a blanket and watched the sunset from the top of the entrance of our home’s staircase in Amman. When he got up, he fainted and fell down the stone stairs. He lived eleven days before passing. May God have mercy on his soul.”

Hearing Teita talk about Palestine was an eye-opening experience for me, one that will never escape my heart and mind as one of the most enlightening discussions I have ever had with her. I recorded our conversation, which I will cherish and share for as long as I live. After all, it is history, our Palestinian history.

Nadine Liddawi


  1. Subhan’Allah. I may not know you, but because of the Palestinian blood we share I felt like crying for you, for everyone. Thank you for sharing.


  1. […] United States- Record the stories of those around you, not only if you are Palestinian but especially if you are. They are a strong, doable form of resistance to the state of Israel, which deny and belittle the Nakba.  […]

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