Aswat (Voices) From Palestine And Our Immigrant Tax

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I have a permanent wound and the bandage just ripped off. I am a child of the diaspora – a term defined as the dispersion of people from their original homeland, but to me, it means so much more than that. It’s the haunting memories of what was and the daunting what-ifs of what might have been. It’s the guilt of leaving home and the frustration of not being able to do more. It’s every single emotion and thought; excitement, sadness, hope, anger, and everything in between. But that’s the tax of being an immigrant.

I was born and raised in Palestine. I came to Canada when I was 14 years old and for years I refused to look back at the memories and acknowledge my trauma because I refused to feel what I had felt back home, it was too unbearable.

I wanted to erase that part of my memories completely and create a new identity here in Canada, even when I knew deep in my heart that it wouldn’t last for too long.

The town I was raised in was called Arabeh, Jeneen. I had all of my family around me there. My teta’s (grandmother) home was 10 minutes away from mine, my uncle’s bakery was a 3-minute walk, and my aunt was living next door.

We always saw each other on Fridays for dinner, celebrated Eid together, and supported one another; it was nice to be surrounded by the full family.

The change

But all of that started to slowly disappear as the Israeli occupation’s brutality increased. To say the least, we started having full-day curfews during random days.

Imagine an entire town being told you are not allowed to do anything: no work, no school, not even a walk outside because the Israeli army is visiting the town and they don’t want to see Palestinians on the streets.

Our government was non-existent because the Israeli authority took over, and there was no protection such as police services, laws, courts, policies, etc.

Palestinian authorities were not allowed to carry weapons and if you did dare go against their orders, you would be shot on sight.

My family saw this coming and each household started to apply for immigration – my aunts went to Jordan, some of my uncles came to Canada, some to Dubai, America, some got denied, and some stayed there in hopes that things will get better.

We were all separated and left with just the memories, paying our immigrant dues.

Seeing the atrocities today through social media had me reliving my childhood in Palestine years after I have tried to bury them for so long.

Pictures and videos from social media bring out the sounds of the bulldozers going down the street of my old neighborhood; feeling the fear of looking at Israeli soldiers with their rifles out, tasting the disgusting dust of bombs, and protesting all over again for a free, unoccupied Palestine.

This time around there’s an added emotion to all of those experiences – the unfairness of the portrayals of Palestinians in the media, the guilt of our privileged life in the west as we witness children dying, the agony of not knowing what is happening every second, and the sorrows of not being at my family’s side through it all.

But that’s the immigrant tax- a permanent wound engraved in your soul no matter where you go and who you grow into.

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Comments to: Aswat (Voices) From Palestine And Our Immigrant Tax
  • July 6, 2021

    That was very informative story 😿 I hope everything gets better in your country.


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