Israel killed my grandma, I will keep her stories alive

Shama’a, my beloved grandmother. (Photo courtesy of Balma Almaza) 

I vividly recall our last call.

I told my dear grandma that she should rest. I would take care of telling her story.

Her name was Shama’a.

Even though my grandma could not read, she was incredibly educated. She had the answers to all my questions.

Each morning, she listened to the latest news on the radio.

She knew everything about herbs and embroidery and could even speak English, though she couldn’t write it.

When I asked her once why she didn’t complete her formal education, she replied with a broken voice, “I didn’t have the option. 1948 killed all the options.”

Yet she was adamant that the Nakba – the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine – would not leave her family without options.

She understood the importance of education. That is why all my uncles are educated.

On 14 December, I received terrible news. My grandma had been killed a few days prior in an Israeli attack on a hospital in northern Gaza.

It is important to emphasize that she did not die because of old age. She was murdered.

Staying connected

What has prompted Israel to target older people?

Were they armed?

Do they pose a threat to Israel’s troops?

If the answer is “no,” then why?

David Ben-Gurion, the Zionist leader who became Israel’s first prime minister, once wrote, “We must expel Arabs and take their place.”

Such comments provide an answer to the pressing question: What motivates Israelis to behave in a manner reminiscent of the Nazis?

The behavior includes massacres, home demolitions, expelling Palestinians from their ancestral lands.

If you silence the storyteller, nobody can listen to their voice any more. But the voices of their listeners can still be heard.

That is the dynamic of Palestine: stories and memories are immortalized.

Children inherit the names of their grandparents, assuring that they are connected to their roots.

When I learned of my grandmother’s death, the first thing I thought about was that if I have a daughter she will have the same name: Shama’a.

Under Palestinian tradition, the ring my grandmother wore is handed down to my mother. I will inherit it next.

Then my daughter will. Or if I don’t have a daughter, it will go to my daughter-in-law.

I may be far from my grandmother geographically. But I imagine that I am holding her ring tightly and admiring her wedding dress.

The thought makes me happy.

At least, I have saved fragments that will remind me of my grandmother. I can even remember her scent.

When Israel kills a storyteller, a new generation of storytellers is born.

Basma Almaza is a student of business administration in Malaysia.