So, we applied for a state? #3

East Jerusalem-based photographer Tanya Habjouqa took this photo of Leila Khaled, a former prisoner, with a picture of herself. This was the first time she held a copy of the famous image.

Mashallah News is posting a series of pieces on the theme “State Application: Pending” from Tala Abu Rahmeh in Ramallah. This is the third part; part one can be found here and part two here.

There is a company in the US that makes something called Flat Daddy, which is basically a life size cardboard cutout with the picture and gear of your loved one who’s currently at war. Flat Daddy makes a cutout of your dad, mom, son or daughter for a meagre 50 bucks. Just imagine waking up in the morning to find your favourite person sitting at the kitchen table, entirely flat.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Palestinian prisoners who were released, and those still inside. There is a radio show on one of the local radio stations where people call in to send messages to their loved ones in Israeli jails. It is the only method of communication they have, and it’s often impossible to reciprocate.

Just imagine waking up in the morning to find your favourite person sitting at the kitchen table, entirely flat.

It’s been a few weeks since the prisoners were released, and to this day, we know very few stories. I try to think of what it would feel like to be in jail for 32 years, and then suddenly burst open into a world you fought so hard for, but now barely recognise. It’s almost like giving birth to child, giving it away, then meeting him or her again 32 years later. You could feel the bones inside you, but you don’t really know the person.

Why is it that we’re not hearing a lot of stories? Do we not want to know how terrifying it was for these people to be in jail for us? Do we want to romanticise the idea of imprisonment and never know how it really is inside? Have we reached a point of not caring? Or is it that telling their stories is on no one’s political agenda?

I try to think of what it would feel like to be in jail for 32 years, and then suddenly burst open into a world you fought so hard for, but now barely recognise.

Perhaps the biggest defect of love is fear, and by not hearing the stories, we cannot get afraid. We do not have to visualise sleeping on our side of the bed and never knowing if our loved one is ever going to sleep there again; or taking our kids to graduation while missing one parent; or writing love letters to somebody who is never going to be the same; or taking off their shirts to find wounds that can never heal. But then again, how can anybody avoid brokenness?

If a company in Hebron starts making flat daddies, and people started taking them around in cars and on donkeys, we were going to have to come to terms with how many loved ones are behind bars, and how little we can do to ease their loneliness, and ours.

Perhaps the biggest defect of love is fear, and by not hearing the stories, we cannot get afraid.

This time around, I’m putting my hand over our state application, and with the other writing the names of those still inside. May you come out soon, and find so much love waiting for you, and within you.

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2 thoughts on “So, we applied for a state? #3

  1. It’s like being blind your entire life and opening your eyes to a world completely different than you imagined. How disappointed in us they must feel to find what their once beloved country has transformed into. And what about those imprisoned while fighting for Palestine only to be released from jail and forbidden to return to their homes. Only leaving a void in their hearts never to be filled again. Is imprisonment in your country better than being exiled?

  2. Ur writing is so lovely and the metaphor of a person being imprisoned as if is giving away ur baby for 32 babies is so realistic!!! Ur so right, not only did our prisoners come out to a changed careless state that they fought for! We r too lazy and scared
    To even listen to their stories!!! Ur articles
    R soo good they should
    Be translated to arabic so all can read and understand and hopefully change as well!!!

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