It starts with a smile. A faint one apparently. But that doesn’t matter. I know as long as I’m smiling, nobody can wake me up. I shall keep the smile on my face. And I shall go on dreaming.
I had a dream…
I can hear my wife whisper something to the kids, but I’m pretending to be asleep. I am trying to stay focused on the dream: the trees, Jerusalem, my friend.
Sadly, it happens that each time a sweet dream forces itself into my distressing thoughts, a fly would keep buzzing till I furiously start swinging my hand trying to keep it away. I would end up hitting my face, and the fly actually wins! I open my eyes and wonder if that was the end; I so much regret waking up to the extent that I would pathetically try to close my eyes again and make the dream last a bit longer. I fail, miserably.
Last night I had a dream…
This time was different though. Trees were all I could see. Jerusalem looked so close. And my friend was alive. I felt like going on as long as possible. I knew by waking up I would be uprooting my own trees, abandoning my Jerusalem, and killing my buddy. This time, I kept my eyes close. This time, I fought for my dream.
When I was 17 years old, I dropped out of school. My father was a farmer but wanted me to go to college and become a doctor. However, I loved to take care of our land. Of the lemon trees. I told him study was not my thing, but he insisted that I go back to school. I did. I became a teacher, and my father died, leaving me with a piece of land full of lemon trees.
The trees were there in my dream, standing so beautifully.
When I was 11, the family decided to go on a trip to Jerusalem, the city of dreams. It was not that expensive to go there at the time, nor was it too difficult to travel. It happened quite easily. It ended so fast.
Last night Jerusalem seemed to be a few meters away, a lot nearer than it was when we went on that visit.
When I was 8, I met Mu’aath, who later became my best friend. We threw stones together and because I was kind of a coward, I used to run away and leave him behind each time an Israeli tank got too close. He never left his spot. Mu’aath seemed like a true hero—at least to me.
He was always throwing stones. Even in the dream!
Last night I had a beautiful dream… trees, Jerusalem, my friend.
Now it’s 5:55 a.m. In a few minutes, the alarm will start ringing, my wife will start nagging me to get up, and a hideous fly might come over to take part in the wake-up drama. My eyes are tightly closed. I guess I’m going to take the day off. Well the UNRWA might deduct some bucks, but that is fine. Now I need to concentrate. Trees are all I can see. Jerusalem looks so close. My friend is alive.
Last night I had a dream, and it was when my wife shook my body I realized that the lemons were gone long ago, that Jerusalem is 79 kms (and a checkpoint and a fence and a soldier) away from me, and that Mu’aath was shot to death. I could no longer fake the smile, for the dream was truly over.
Last night I had a dream…
It ends with a smile. A fake one, indeed. But that doesn’t matter. I know as long as I’m smiling, nobody can wake me up. I shall keep that smile. And I shall go on dreaming…
Of the lemon trees. Of Jerusalem. Of Mu’aath.
Sarah Ali is a Gazan blogger. This is crossposted @ her blog Here We Are