The other day, Yousuf came home from kindergarten with a small project. He was given a paper to fill out to help him learn his address. It listed several categories: Street, City, State, Zipcode and so on. He yanked it out of his backpack to show me enthusiastically. He had it filled out to the best of his ability (the teacher provided the correct address for them to copy). I tried to make out his elementary phonics-based handwriting and be encouraging all the while. I noticed though under “city” he had written something that did not exactly read like Columbia.
“Gosa?” I asked.
“It says Gaza” he said matter-of-factly.
“Oh-I see. But that’s not your physical address, you live in Columbia, Maryland” I instructed him.
“Mama, you don’t get it, that IS my address, its my my hometown, even if I live here, that is my real address!” he insisted.
“But its not even in the United States” I replied.
“So what. Its my city!” he answered.
Ok, obviously this was a losing battle. Forget about explaining geography and the limits of physical boundaries to a 5 year old. What does it matter in his mind anyway? His “city” is Gaza; he is IN Gaza, even though he is physically present in the United States.
That’s Yousuf for you. Even though he only spent a short part of his young life there (his first 2-3 years) Gaza has taken a big part of his heart and he never forgets it. I think in some way, that is how we all feel. No matter how far away we are, no matter how young or old, no matter where we are born and where we end up living, Gaza is in our hearts and is always our city. It casts a spell on you.
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