Part V – Abu Mohammad’s Dukkan
“We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand; we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.” Upon hearing this, the three men listening to Gamal Abdel Nasser’s speech on Cairo Radio at Abu Mohammad’s dukkan (shop) stood up cheering for their hero. “Blessed is the belly that brought you to life,” Abu Muhammad said.
Abu Mohammad is a military retired and the owner of the only dukkan (shop) in the village. After his retirement, he built from his retirement’s compensation a 4 by 5 room, an extension to his house. His dukkan has one light bulb in the middle of the ceiling, a home refrigerator, candies and chips, can foods-mainly Tuna and Sardines- and some vegetables he orders every morning from Irbid.
Every now and then, Abu Fatmeh stops by Abu Mohammad’s dukkan on his way back home after school to buy cigarettes or sometimes for a quick chat. He teaches Arabic in the only elementary school in the village. High school students have to walk 3 kilometers out of the village to go to their school. However, when Abu Fatmeh sees Wasfi El-Turk at Abu Mohammad’s dukkan he has to join this company. Hardly anyone calls him Wasfi in the village; some even do not know his first name is Wasfi. El-Turk is not his real last name but a nickname given to him by the resident of the village because of his Turkish mother. She died when he was four-year-old but his stepmother raised him like her son.
Both Abu Mohammad and Abu Fatmeh like El-Turk’s company because of his funny and sometimes wicked stories about his travels to Turkey, Syria, Kuwait and Iraq. Both know most of his stories are made up but they still like hearing them from him. El-Turk is a truck driver; his truck cargo to Iraq and Kuwait are either citruses or olive oil and from Syria and Turkey non-perishable goods like soap and detergents.
Whenever El-Turk goes to the dukkan he brings with him dates or fruits depending on what country he came from last. Although Abu Mohammad and Abu Fatmeh appreciate these gifts, they like more hearing his stories especially when he talks about the beautiful women of Syria and Turkey. They all joke that he has a wife in each of these countries. This rumor came up because El-Turk is 40 something and single.
The day the three were listening to Gamal Abdel Nasser’s speech was a sunny warm day in March 1967. They sat at the entrance of the dukkan smoking, except Abu Mohammad who does not smoke, and drinking tea. They were not laughing or chatting, just listening to Cairo Radio. Listening to Abdel Nasser always gives them the chills.
In June 1967, the tension between Israel and its neighbors reached a climax. One sheep surrounded by foxes, at least that is how the USA media described it. The rationale says Israel had no chance defeating Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Israel had less troops and less combat aircraft. Besides, these three countries can always depend on the other Arab countries for more support.
To be able to defeat three Arab countries at once Israel executed a preemptive air strike. Eighty five percent of Egypt’s military aircraft were destroyed. In only six days, Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.
Arabs call this year Sanat Al-Naksa (the setback.) They disagree about many things regarding this war. Their preparation, execution, what should been done differently , accusations, etc. Nevertheless, they agree on one thing. Israel would have not won this war without the help of the USA. America was a synonymous for Imperialism. Arabs hate imperialism.
Regardless of the defeat mood among Arabs, Abu Fatmeh had something to cherish and celebrate that year. On September of that year, his wife gave him a baby boy he named Khalid. It was a relief for the mother and a happy moment for the father having a boy after the first being a girl. They both love her of course but having a boy is just different.
His relatives and friends started calling him Abu Khalid instead of Abu Fatmeh. He did not correct them because this is how it works. The father and mother are called Abu (father) or Um (mother) after their first boy not first child.
Khalid grow up in this village. There were no malls, no parks and no cinemas. He and his friends would play football everyday, during the summer, wherever they can find a flat land and when the owner of the land is not aware of their presence.
He traveled only twice outside Irbid during a school trip. One time he went to the Dead Sea and another time to Aqaba. You can imagine Khalid’s reaction the first time Nadia took him to see The Swan Lake ballet at Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. For him it wan’t a different place but a different world.
To be continued …