Today I was playing a game with my 4 year-old niece, who is completely out of touch with her roots, to say the least. Maybe it’s normal for a 4 year-old girl but I remember when I was very little I knew my family came from Palestine, despite the fact that I thought Palestine was the capital of Amman.
Be that as it may, the game was that I show her a card and she tells me what’s on it. One of the cards, fortunately, had a picture of Handala hanging up the flag of Palestine. So I asked her what that was, and to my utter mortification she said with some intimidation: Swiper!
Now in case you don’t watch too much cartoons let me introduce you to Swiper. Swiper is the evil fox from Dora The Explorer, and for my niece “Swiper” means anything or anyone scary, much like Abu kees or Abu Rejl Masloukha. So you can imagine how that resonated with me, that was profanity.
So, I decided to give her some idea who Handala was, with the help of my good old friend Google. We looked up some pictures for Handala, and I told him his story: “Handala is a little boy who is mad because they took his home. Israel took his home”. I dug up a key chain I had bought a while ago with Handala and the map of Palestine. She was confused why he had no facial features and even said she didn’t like him, but I explained that he’s turning his back because he’s looking at his land, where his home is in Palestine, and because he’s sad. She seemed to understand and I daresay she empathized with him, and they became friends as she told me she now likes him.
She put the key chain on the desk and went to play, I thought she’s forget about it, but to my surprise she came back as they were preparing to leave and took it, trying to hook it to her pants. I told her to come so that I can hang it for her but she said “it’s okay, I put it in my pocket!” You might think I’m exaggerating but the way she came looking back for the key chain and the way she was telling people about this boy, “Handaba” as she pronounced it, and the expression on her face as she tucked it away safely in her pocket, all that gives me a feeling I can’t even begin to describe.
Maybe one day, in sha’a Allah, she will get to know so much about where her family originally comes from, and she will remember that it all started with a little boy who was mad, and sad, and was looking back at his land.