Aside 1 Sep


Dear All,

Congratulations on this very successful start. After you introduce yourself and upload a photo that is representative of you, I think you need to start preparing for our VC on The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. We started discussing themes and issues raised in the novel such as prejudice and its effect on identity and identuity formation. I am looking forward to reading some of the ideas that you want to suggest for discussion on Monday Sept. 23.

Nabil Alawi


“UN Forgettable Moment in My Life”

3 Dec

I want to talk about the most miserable days in my life which will be stamped in my memory unto my last breath .It was in 2010, when I was a sophomore student in English department, I specialized exactly at the first semester of the same year, and registered 18hs all of which I was attending three days a week from 8am-4pm.

I made up my mind to finish my study during three years and a half, and to increase my total average more than 86 since it was my total in the first year. I was shamefaced to get that total, for after I end tawjihi with 93.6 I promised my father to try my best to end my college study with the same level. So at the beginning of that semester I did my best studying day and night to achieve my goal, that I finished my first examinations excellently .However, the second examinations did not pass as I wished, my ambition seems to be dashed by a tough obstructions, since what I never even thought of to happen started to blacken my life .

At October of that semester, my father’s health suddenly deteriorated, therefore; we moved to the hospital to be cured, it was exactly the fourth of October, and he stayed there for four days during which I could not sleep day or night. I was                                                                             wakeful all the night praying for God to bring him back home fine; when we entered upon morning, I used to go to my university attending my classes absent minded thinking only of seeing my father at the end of that day. Sometimes I could not bear to attend the six classes so I used to escape the last one to see him early in order to sit with him longer time before sunset. I used to go with my elderly two sisters after finishing our classes; we were sitting together talking, entertaining him about one hour and a half, after that we would turn back to home to assure our family that he is fine.

The next day it was a holiday for me so I couldn’t go to see him. I couldn’t describe my feeling at that day it was as if something slashing me. How cold our house be without my father. My mother used to visit him everyday afternoon and return back home at sunset, for my uncle was his companion, the moment she came out of the door we rushed all gathering around her, to know what the doctor has said about his illness, but she always answers with the same reply, “they told me nothing “. With all of this ambiguity about his real illness, I never permit my thought to let me think of that terrible day in which I will lose my father forever. After five days my father turned back home, we all hurried to embrace him, I hug him, kissed him, and asked his permission to utter a shrill cry of joy, then I made along warmth one with my happiness tears falling from my eyes and so were his. After three days exactly, his health deteriorated again and we took him back to the hospital, since then we started to think of the black cloud that will cover our home. My sister Manar while talking at midnight exploded crying and told us that our father’s end is very close; she strongly felt that in the last period, but I reassured her by telling her that I had dreamt that he was dying so he will live a long life according to dream’s interpretation

The next day while my parents were in the hospital, a strange car stopped before our house from which two men stepped down and asked for my father, my brother told them that he is in the hospital so they went to see him there. My father who was astonished for seeing that man, who was his friend before fifteen years, asked him “what makes you remember me now after that long time?”The man replied “I came to you for a request, but I feel that it is not the right place to talk of now, when you turn back home we will visit you and talk about it” Four days later, after my father’s return from the hospital, the man called him, asked for a visit, and paid us a visit the next day, I knew later that he was coming in search for a pride for his son.

After two days he sent us his wife and his two sisters, who chose me to be their daughter –in law. The next day they came with their son, I saw him and we sat together talking half an hour. Meanwhile, they gave us a week to send them an answer of yes or no. After I took my time to think I offered my consent , so they come to our home to read “Al-Fatiha” as an introduction to the marriage contract which they agreed to make the next Wednesday (the fourth of November). At the same night we sat all together with my father, I hug him when I saw the tears filling his eyes for I was the first of my sisters to get engaged during his life, he said that he doubts if he could secure us all before dying expressed his feeling of a close death.

The other day, while he was sitting with my small twin sisters, who were only five years old at that time, he told them that he will die soon, they rushed to me crying but I reassured them by telling them that he is sick a little bit and wants only to examine their love for him, I went to him and spent the whole day in his company trying not to make him thinking of death anymore.

In his last days, he was very tired and refused to go to the hospital before my engagement at Wednesday, I insisted that he should go to the hospital for his life is more important to me than anything else, but he became stubborn and did not listen to any one professing that three or four days will not make any difference, in addition to the fact that when one’s life is end he must die. I could not forget his voice in his last days, his cries out of pain, I still remember, as if I hear him now praying God to release him and to end his misery, I could feel his pain as if it was mine, each cry was painful than a stab to my heart, for I could do him nothing but trying to calm him down, and to pray for his restoration of health

The day before his death he asked us not to leave him alone ,so all of my family stayed with him all the day long, of course I could not stay with him that day because I returned from my university at five o’clock , at night all of my sister went to sleep except we who were in the university , we kept chatting with him, he was asking us about our studies, how do we proceed and what are our plans for the future, I remember that the last words that he had said to me was “may God be pleased with you” then he went to sleep and we did so.

The next day (2nd, Nov.2009) I was awakened at the sound of horror and a black atmosphere, it was the first day to rain in that winter. I do not know how my legs carried me upstairs to my father’s room, all that I could remember that I saw my mother crying “we lost him forever, your father died ” I told her not to utter those words, for when I saw him he was sleeping as usual at his right side putting his hand under his head, there was not any terrible features or signs of a dead body that I used to see in television. I tried hard to awaken him up and so did my sisters, but uselessness. My mother could not tolerate this scene so she went out of the room and called my uncle to bring a doctor with him to make a checkup; she also called my sisters to get back home from their way to the university telling them that my father is very tired. When the doctor entered the room we were all sitting outside praying God not to take our father for we could not live without him. The doctor unsatisfying to our hopes emphasized his death; we out of shock fell transfixed to the ground. At this moment my sisters arrived, they hurried to his room, when they saw him covered unto his face they fell faint; we awakened them, calmed them down and stuck together trying to conceive the situation. Meanwhile, we decide not to cry for our grief will not cause him any benefit ,therefore; we went to perform the ritual ablution and came back to his room,  sat surrounding him , and started reading ‘Quran’ for him, I took hold of his hand and kept reading ”yasin” for him for an hour .

When our uncles and our step brothers arrive ,since they were in Jenin while we were living in Nablus ,my uncle asked us to leave the room to prepare him for the burial, they rinsed him and dressed him the shroud. After they finished the preparation, they put the coffin in the parlor, uncover his face and asked us to bid him fare well for entombment is the best endowment for the dead body, I kissed him the last kiss with my tears frozen in my eyes, and so did my sisters, after that they came to lift the coffin but we could not leave him so we went with the funeral which was directed to Jenin, to his place of birth where my grandmother, was waiting to see him.  When we reach our kinfolk’s dwelling in Dair Abu Dai’ef, they put the coffin in the housing’s yard in order for our relative to see him for the last time before the burial. When my grandmother saw him, she became languid, kissed him, and bade him farewell. She looked as if she had lost her mind because she, after that day kept asking who you are?  Sometimes she seemed not to know anyone, when we told her that we are your grandson and that our father died, she would not stop crying; she had survived two of her sons during her life.

When we returned to our home at night the house was crowded of relatives, we took ourselves and ascended to my father’s room,  , sat on his bed watching his pictures, holding his clothes and smelling it , my aunt came to us there, told us that we must keep our eyes open to the truth and to accept it since it is something that is not in our hands,  something which is imposed upon every human being, then she told us to go to my mother downstairs for she now in her stronger need for us and that we must release her not to increase her grief, we listened to her, went to my mother  and hugged her trying to be somehow coherent, and to dominate our sentiments. I felt that I am about to burst because I try hardly to prevent myself from crying to calm my small sisters down.

At midnight, I sneaked to my father’s room, stood by the door where the sack which contains the outfit that is made especially for the dead was emplaced; I opened it, picked the essence flask out of it, and smelt it. Then I sat on his bed reading Quran. Suddenly the power turned off, it was the last quarter of the night, the moon’s light was reflected on the white sack so I sat transfixed out of fear and closed my eyes, when the power turned on again I hurried to my family down stairs screaming, so my aunts closed the room with the keys and kept them somewhere preventing us from entering it. We all sat down stairs with our relatives sleepless talking about my father and how we could not believe that we lost him forever. We did not go to the university until Thursday when my mother told us all to go to his place( school, university.. etc.), since our staying at home will change nothing but increasing our pain, and for our father had always encouraged us to be aware of our study, as a result ; we dressed ourselves and moved to the university. When I passed the doorstep to the street and started walking I felt as if the passers-by in the street were all viciousness, who wanted to eat me. How loneliness I felt since that time because I lost what was made me feel safe-keeping for I used to see my father every day morning sitting in the veranda sipping his daily cup of tea, and telling him goodbye before going to my university. When I reached the university, I entered the class hole discovering that the student were having an exam, I could hardly utter those words “I lost my father” the instructor accepted to delay the exam for me. Then I sat in the corridor unable to quit crying , I was burdened with grief  and an extensive feeling of lack to the extent that I could not tolerate the sympathizing  eyes that were falling upon me ,thus I turned back home .The next Sunday was my first examination, I could not study well as before, because I accustomed myself to study during the night, hearing my father’s cough merely was made me feel safe, what was more comfortable to me that sometimes he would come to me releasing me by praying me good luck .But now who would release me out of my fears. No one, nobody could make me feel the same feeling that my father could. Since my father’s death I spent much time suffering from bad imagination and painful memories. So being unable to study during the night out of fear and unable to study during the day for I did not use to do that; my total average deteriorated day after the other, It took me long time before I could admit the hard reality .I remembered the oath that I gave to my father in which I committed myself to improve my  average ,henceforward, I started recollecting my strength determining to study for my father’s sake ,I tried my best for the purpose of lessening the losses ,but it was a little bit late, nevertheless, I will try more and more to end my BA with B at least.

Wake Me When It’s over

29 Sep

Our home the moment it was blown up to the ground…

I was born in Nablus in 1990 and lived in Askar Camp. My father who was a revolutionist at the PLO and was imprisoned two times abandoned this after his marriage because he realized that being involved in the resistance would cause a lot of troubles for him and the family.

My childhood was dominated by tranquility until the coming of the second Intifada in the year 2000 and following it an invasion of Nablus in 2002. I witnessed many scenes of killing, bombing and shooting and all these affected my life positively, let’s say I don’t fear these scenes any more, for I got used to them. I remember the first day of the invasion when I woke up and saw the windows covered with blankets because my father feared the snipers. I spent two days locked up in the house and so did my family; we didn’t have the guts to step out the door of the building. Loss of power and communications’ disruption was something throttling and we got used to that for sometimes about 24 days in a row.

On the eighth of October 2003 and specifically at 4:00 am I heard two shots but I didn’t care and went back to sleep, about fifteen minutes later, I heard the sounds of moving vehicles coming close to our home. At that moment I said in my mind something is going to happen this night. Suddenly, I heard a man speaking on a speaker saying “Fayez! You son of a b*tch! Come out you f*cken dog!”, and he kept saying this sentence and yelling. The man who was speaking on the speaker was “Annamroud”, he was an Israeli officer and the commander of the eastern area. I noticed that “Annamroud” got bored and stopped yelling. Fayez Al- Sadder yelled two times saying “Allah is the greatest”, and they started shooting at him from all directions, at that moment I froze like a stone for seconds because of the intensity of fear that engulfed me, I rapidly went running like crazy to my parents room and so did my siblings, but we realized we made a mistake by doing so; an explosion destroyed the building door which is next to my parents’ room and a storm of smoke went like arrows to our chests, we almost got suffocated and ran quickly to my sister’s room when the water tanks of the building were punctured by the bullets and water reached our ankles. At that moment the battle stopped and we decided to go to the last station which was the guests’ room. I was shaking badly to the extent that if I try to take a drink of water the bottle falls from my hands. While we were sitting in the guests’ room, I heard something rolling on the roof of the room and then a BANG! It seemed that it was a grenade followed by the second and the third one and the roof started falling upon us. My father realized that we can’t hold this place anymore, so he told us that we are going out now! We headed to the door and opened it and my father started yelling “Katan, Katan”, it means children in Hebrew, from nowhere a hail of bullets came toward us, and we were lucky that we had a wall that protected us. Moments of silence, and I started thinking about death, suddenly I started weeping and so did my siblings, my father improvised and talked again with the soldiers through the window next to the door, after a discussion he told me “walk out son don’t be afraid”, I wore my slippers, opened the door and looked up to see the grape tree has turned its color from green to black, and that was because the second floor was burning and it burned our tree. When I stepped on the street I saw four soldiers holding their guns at me and they shouted “Move boy!”, I was stunned, felt nothing because of the horror I’ve been through. I started walking up in the street and saw a human liver on the ground, I stopped walking and looked behind me to see a tank with its front pointed at me. I continued walking to see lines of Israeli military jeeps and the soldiers standing next to jeeps pointing their guns at me. The fatality was when an Israeli soldier forced me and my family to step over the man whom they killed during the combat. We kept walking to Al-Safa Factory to find all of our neighbors eye-folded and hand cuffed, after that they forced us to go to our neighbor’s house which is located next to the factory but we were still able to see our home. While I was walking an Israeli soldier called me and said mockingly while laughing “Why are you afraid? Here, take this pack of chips”, we sat and watched what the soldiers were doing. An Israeli soldier shouted, and about 30 seconds later I heard a scream, and then a BANG! What happened was that our home collapsed like a smashed cookie! I was laughing and saying is this a joke?! What the hell is going on?!, my mom started weeping and so did the neighbors, after about 5 minutes, a big bulldozer came and started lifting the rubble up and down like out famous food “Maklouba” ,and after 20 minutes it withdrew and so did the other forces. I ran down to see the remains of our home and until that moment I didn’t realize what had just happened. Minutes later, I saw hundreds of people from the camp coming carrying axes and shuffles with them. I said wow! These people are the most helpful people I have ever seen! I got shocked when I found out that they were here not for help… they were here to steal aluminium and any other valuable things they might find. Out of nowhere a man shouted “people! There’s a hand beside me!”, they pulled it out of the rubble and with it came the body of “Fayez”.

After the incident my uncle came and took us to Al-Een Camp, my father was arrested and the Israeli forces took him to Howara Military Base and they released him later. We lived in Al-Een camp for 3 months and after that moved to an area located between the old and the new Askar camps and lived there for a year and after it we moved to our home which was rebuilt by the donations of people. I tried to forget the past and move on, but that was one hell of a memory that no human being can ever forget!

Yassin Ibrahim

Midnight Shadows

29 Sep

I was born in 1991 in Nablus and grew up in Balata camp where I lived the first 17 years of my life. I used to live in a very modest house of two rooms, my parents bedroom, and a kitchen, in addition to the basic bathrooms; where did me and my brothers sleep? In the kitchen, our sleeping, studying, eating, and living room. Our main door led directly into the kitchen, and our worst nightmare as you might imagine was the door being blown up into he room and on us; but that was the least of our problems, for many times have I seen my father being used as a human shield, every single time the Israel army invaded the camp and broke into the houses around us, they started with us, used him as a human shield, and left us with our worst fears of what might happen to him; and that, made us see all other fears smaller than their actual size.

During our time in Balata camp, there were many occupation-related occurrences ranging from frequent raids on the camp and getting us out in the middle of the night, to arresting and killing the residents of the camp. The worst period of time the family had faced was when my cousin Raed Abu Al-adas got killed, it was the 3rd of August 2007, Thursday morning at 4am when we knew he was just pronounced dead.

He was sleeping at his friend’s house when the Israeli army found out where he was and sent special forces after him, the special forces knocked at the door of the house very normally, the wife of his friend opened the door and as soon as she saw men with guns she ran inside, but they shot her in her leg, her husband immediately surrendered, but they started shooting at Raed at once, their first shots were in his legs to limit and restrict his movement, after that they shot and murdered him in cold blood; for the medical report had mentioned that he was shot 36 times, but it was the 36th bullet that was shot from a pistol at point-blank in his head that killed him, or to be specific, executed him… May he rest in peace.

In the end, what we have undergone and experienced might be a fraction of what other Palestinians may have went through, but despite it all, despite the suffering, we still have hope, hope for a better future, for a better Palestine.

“Despite the Pain”

23 Sep

          I was born in the thirteenth of April 1993 in my beloved city Tulkarm in Palestine .Being a little girl, I had absolutely no idea about the political situation in my country .My first realization that we were living an exceptional situation came to me at the age of  six  in 1999 when the first signs of the Palestinian second uprising “the second intifada” started to show  .The very first sign was the curfews ; nobody was allowed to get out his\her house .As  children , my sister and I couldn’t understand why we weren’t allowed to go out to  play in  the yard . I remember that once I innocently promised my mother  that I was going to make sure that my sister and I don’t soil our clothes , if we would be allowed to go out  .Then at that moment the harsh reality struck me , my mother found herself compelled to tell us that if we go out we might be killed by the Israeli soldiers ,and this was my moment of realization .

       The curfews became a part of our daily lives .It was absolutely normal  to hear the  Israeli military forces crossing  the streets proclaiming a curfew . Staying at home and not being able to go out was my biggest ordeal at the time .And being  such an energetic, obstinate and curious child, I found it extremely difficult not to peek out from the living room widow whenever I heard an Israeli tank passing by the house .Well , yes as you may have guessed we weren’t even allowed to look out of the windows .In fact , during that time  many Palestinians were shot while  standing on their windows .Whenever I was caught by mother I  was severely reprimanded and she would say ”do you want to end up dead or wounded like Shaker”  – Shaker was our neighbor and he was shot in his shoulder while he was looking out of  a window in his house . I would always apologize and promise not to repeat that . Once I remember ,during a very long curfew , the electricity was cut off  from the whole neighborhood ;  all I could think of in my childish mind was ” awesome!! That’s just great .Now I can’t go out and I can’t watch  TV either”.  I never thought about the other more important electricity dependant machines.

        What I had experienced  was nothing compared to  what I went through in March 2003 . The year 2003 was the peak of  the “intifada”, and many headquarters were shelled all over the country. And now being ten years old , I was able to realize that the political situation was a total mess  .However , life went on as usual , my sister and I would wake up every morning ,kiss our parents goodbye and head to our school which was located exactly next to the headquarters .That day our classes began as usual ,then about 10 am we could hear the hovering of the helicopters . At first we didn’t pay much attention to this as it was part of our daily routine .The teacher continued with the lesson when all of a sudden the first bomb was shelled ; every girl in the class started yelling and the teacher was shouting “get out , hurry up , hurry up ” .I don’t know how I descended the stairs , every one was pushing and running for their lives . As I got out of the school , my sister was out crying and shouting , waiting for me .She took my ice-cold hand and we  ran with the people running in the street . I had no idea where we were going . The thing I remember most clearly  is that we ended up in a hospital , how we got  there I don’t know . Every girl in the school was in that hospital trembling and crying at every explosion . I remember that my sister and I were wondering about our parents . It was highly probable that they were in danger . The only words I remember saying were “I want my parents “.When things started to calm down , the girls’ parents began to pour frantically to the hospital .As soon as they saw their daughters , they embraced them assuring them that everything was fine .Meanwhile , there  was  no sign of our parents , we began to feel more and more frightened when we saw our cousin coming to take us .We were sure that something wasn’t right . The first thing we asked him was “where is dad ? and why didn’t he come to take us home ?” .He explained that my father was safe and sound and that they weren’t sure of  our whereabouts , so each one of them went to check a different hospital .When we reached the neighborhood , everybody was on the streets , for many people had children or at least a relative  in that school . When we saw our parents on front of the house weeping , we ran to embrace them. A few people have died that day ,but luckily non of the school girls died though there were some serious injuries  .  I don’t remember for how long I kept hearing  voices of bombs and explosions  , for how long the image of the girls rushing down the stairs haunted me , but I know it was quite a long time .In natural cases ,  children who had been through such experiences would need years of therapy ,but we had non .Not because our parents didn’t care ,but because they had more  fundamental things  to take care of and by fundamentals I mean the basic life necessities like water , food and medicine. It was on that day that I knew what  being a Palestinian meant . It meant no matter how young or how old you are , you are subjected to the Israeli war machine .

        The school attack wasn’t the only terrifying thing in 2003 . Later that year,  the Israeli’s demolished one of the houses in our neighborhood ; the house was located near that of my uncle and grandmother’s. Nobody knew what was going to happen that night . We went to bed as usual , then we were woken up by our parents and taken out of the house .We kept asking “what’s going on ?” and we were answered the same thing over and over “nothing is going on ” . Thinking about their answer now , I think they were trying to protect us from another  traumatic experience  after that of the school. Then in the midst of our persistence to know what was going on , a bomb exploded and we  shouted and hugged our parents .At that moment , we had  realized what was going on .My father said that” the Israeli’s had demolished a house , and that my cousins –who lived next to our house – told him to get us out of the house , for there were lots of Israeli’s in the neighborhood and the situation didn’t seem assuring . The minuet  the bombing was over we rushed to see what had happened . My uncle along with his wife , children , and my grandmother were safe , but my grandmother’s house was half destroyed and my uncle’s wasn’t suitable to live in , for the engineers thought that it may come down any minute . Needless to say that the other house was dust .No matter how long I live , I would never forget the look on my grandmother’s face and the heart aching words she uttered after seeing the house that she had lived in for so many years , the house that she raised all her children on destroyed . She said “I wish I had died , what do I have left now , the house that I had lived in , that all my children were brought up in is gone , is gone.” The big question was now where would my uncle ,his wife , four children and mother live . They were practically homeless and with no hotels in the city, they found themselves forced to live with my other uncle who  himself had two children and a wife . One can only imagine how hard it could have been for eleven people to live in  the same house .Though the house is not that small –it has three bedrooms , a living room , a dinning room and a kitchen – this is quite adequate for a family of four , but not for that of eleven.

         What had happened then touched everybody deeply and thus people helped one another . In fact, the solidarity  the neighborhood showed was unprecedented , everyone helped as much as they could till my uncle was able to build another house .

          Finally , all what I’ve been through is incomparable to what some of the Palestinians went through and yet despite the pain  , we still have hope .Hope of a better Palestine , hope of a peaceful Palestine.

Samah Jarrad

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson

17 Sep

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
by James Weldon Johnson
(+ Auditory reading of the whole autobiography)

James Weldon Johnson

Year Published: 1912
Language: English
Genre: Realism
Country of Origin: United States of America

James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a fictional, tragic tale about a young mulatto’s coming-of-age in the early 20th century. The unnamed narrator, who has a black mother and white father, is light-skinned enough to pass for a white man but his emotional connections to his mother’s heritage make him unable to fully embrace that world.

The preface to the book.

The narrator describes his early life at home with his mother.

The Narrator reflects on his first day of school and understands the difference between the races and what they think of each other.

The narrator reflects on his first exposure to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The narrator describes his journey to Atlanta to attend school and the theft of his money when he gets there.

The narrator finds a boarding house for “colored people” and becomes acquainted with the local black citizens.

The narrator travels to New York City and describes ragtime music.

The narrator describes “The Club.”

The narrator is escorted into a small dark apartment where he is supposed to furnish musical entertainment for a small dinner party. He strikes up a friendly relationship with the host.

The narrator leaves New York City and heads to Paris with his new friend. After spending a good deal of time together, they part company and the narrator heads for Boston.

On the way to Boston, the narrator strikes up a conversation with another man regarding racial issues. Once in Boston, they continue to debate and discuss the social/racial problems of the day. The narrator comes upon several other interesting characters.

The narrator reflects on his past and experience being a “white man.”

Source: Lit2Go