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Friday, February 27, 2004

Spring in the Air

Sun, such a luxurios treat, is here to stay. Smells like Spring.

Together with the birds outside my windows, I'm arranging the nest. Winter clothes up, light ones back to the lower shelves. Time to go back to wintering manuscripts. Hard to believe, yet my meeting with Liana Badr took place in Jerusalem back in 1995.

"... Liana means, in Arabic, something gentle and delicate.

My father borrowed the name from an Arab poem from the thirteen century. A love poem.

My father was very interested in the heritage of Arabic literature. He knew all the masterpieces of ancient Arabic poetry by heart. He chose this name because Liana was a rare name back then.

The name tells me that I have been lucky, that I have to make good use of this luck of mine: to work and write about reality in the best way.

My father tried to induce me to learn Arabic poetry by heart, encouraged me, gave me prizes - also for knowledge in astronomy.

My father was interested in ancient Arab astronomy, he was a real scientist, one of the great astronomers in the Arab world. He built a telescope with his own hands, in 1963, here, in Jericho.

Worked six months just on polishing the lenses.

He was a doctor. He opened a people's clinic, especially for the poor, especially to serve the refugees after 1948. He would treat them most of the time for free. And my mother was an impressive woman. She was an intellectual and worked as a school principal.

My father's name was Abdel Rakhim Badr, and my mother's name was Khayat.

The family name, Badr, means - full moon. This name is also connected to Arabic heritage. Badr was a famous name in our culture, a name for heroes. Now it's the name of my father's family in Hebron.

True, my father was an astronomer - and the family name means, Full Moon...

There is also the meaning of completeness, wholeness.

I was born in Jerusalem. We lived in a very big house. There were my aunts, and their children.

Later my parents rented another house in Jerusalem, to be on their own - but I have deep connections to both houses.

Now that I'm back after twenty seven years, I went to the house we used to rent and I met the landlords. I told them that I remembered the furniture, the trees.

They told me that when I was two or three years old I used to ask them on the Ramadan holiday, "Is this your holiday? Are you celebrating your holiday?"

At that time I considered myself a communist, like my father and mother.

I tried to absorb the political reality then.

Once I asked my mother - we were walking on the street, to the shops, here, not far from the American Colony, to buy some chocolate for me, that's what she told me later, and I asked her: "Where is my daddy?"

She said, "He's in prison."

I asked her, "Why is he in prison? All the time you say, prison, prison, Who are the people who took him to prison?"

She said, "Colonialsm took him to prison.

I said, "Oh, bring me this man, Colonialism. I will lock him in the bathroom, you'll give me a stick and I'll beat him up!..."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

excerpt from the "Oh Jerusalem!" manuscript.

At the time of Liana's early childhood, East Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule.

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