Thursday, October 3, 2013

Orange Grove

Asalaamu Alaikum (peace be upon you) my lovely readers!

I originally wanted to write a post on memories. It suddenly hit me that exactly one year ago on this day, I was on my way returning from Palestine to San Diego. It’s crazy how time just slips through our fingers. I’ve hit many obstacle and hardships in this past year and equally accomplished goals I never believed I would be able to reach.

For those of you who recently began reading my blog, I know I have mentioned my trip to Palestine several times. When I returned, I wasn’t able to put all my thoughts of my trip on paper, but I did try to give a glimpse of what it was like traveling to and from that area, through Tel Aviv, Israel. I tried to capture my adventure in this post:

As promised, I wrote last week that if I don’t put up a blog post about anything specific that has been on my mind, I would share a story I have written. I recently stumbled upon this very short creative non-fiction story I wrote about a specific memory I will never forget. It’s a pretty old piece, written during my undergrad years at UCSD, and definitely needs more work and editing, but I thought it would be nice to share.



Seems so long ago, yet I remember…

I remember that day clear as night – a bit hazy and possibly dark. My emotions fill in the gaps I have gained over the years since I stood in that orange grove. Looking back at an age of innocence from the present, which resides in a world as cruel as ours, that incident seemed so simple and carefree. The feeling of independence of venturing off on my own and freedom from worry that has accented my eyes with wrinkles and dark rings. I remember the high intensity of emotion that is now not even understood through exhaustion. I had a lot to gain and should have taken advantage of it, yet at such a young age, why would it have mattered? It occurs to me that I’m not alone and that these are the events that brought me close to realizing the importance of my family.

I remember the thrill of excitement that sunny San Diego morning. Although it should have been just another day at grandmother’s house, that day just felt different – full of carefree independence. Even though I knew I wasn’t allowed past the white top and into the garden that led into the beyond, I ran outside knowing I wasn’t going to stop until I crossed the white into the grass.

I close my eyes and take myself back to the memory, back to those moments of bliss.

The wind blows past me combing its silky fingers through my hair. I take my last glance behind me curious if my mother and father can see me through the blinds in the family room as they drink tea and chat with my grandfather and grandmother. Grinning, I face forward again letting my senses take over completely. My eyes devour in the lush earth of greenery and rich soil. I dance through the garden filled with towering trees much larger than my tiny figure. The trees stand proud and pregnant with succulent oranges and luscious tangerines. Bright colors swirl around my head as my nose catches the smell of the wind lashing out fragrances of fresh cut greenery. 

I run as fast and as hard as my feet can take me through the tall jade grass. The grass sways back and forth tickling my body as it grazes across my skin. Laughter escapes me, rising from within my body and swelling my heart with joy. I feel excitement as I run feeling free and almost able to fly. I run around all the trees until I reach the fence surrounding the garden. The fence stops me from running right out onto the street. The fence is my boundary into what may be dangerous freedom.

Suddenly feeling terrified of the thought of what lies beyond the steel crisscrossed fence, I start to run back. I am unsure of how to find my way back through the maze that I have created for myself.

My vision blurs with the sea green of grass and trees blended in with towers of brown. I feel as if I am in a maze of green and orange. Fear heightens as I continue to run faster and faster than I have ever let my legs carry me. For a moment, I feel lost and alone. I stop running and stand in one place. My lungs ache and my nose burns as my breathing only continues to accelerate in anxiety. My fear becomes muddled with anger at myself for letting myself get caught up in the joys that this particular sun kissed day has to offer. My eyes blur as tears slide down my rosy cheeks. Not knowing what else to do, I close my eyes and squeezed then tight. 

My family has forbid me from entering this area of desperate exploration, yet at this moment, they are all I want. As if on cue, I hear my name being shouted into the heavens. I focus on the voices with my eyes closed tight. I recognize my grandfather’s soothing harsh voice. I know I will be scolded once I reach him. I can hear the fear in his own voice and I know how much he wants me back and safe. I open my eyes and begin to run towards the voice.

I see him in the distance, still searching. As I reach him, I laugh in relief. His eyebrows are caressed with nervousness and his lips are braided in tension. I know he is mad, yet upon seeing me, he smiles showing his large set of teeth. I jump into his arms with a soul full of laughter. When I look up again, his smile is replaced with a hint of anger.

I remember not caring that day that I was scolded. I was just happy to feel safe once again as he carried me into the house.

My grandmother’s house is like no other, filled with aromas of traditional home cooked meals and dessert. As always, stepping within her house makes my mouth water and stomach play its own orchestra. As expected, my grandmother closes off the kitchen door, forcing me into the family room.

While my father and grandfather carry on a conversation on the couch, my younger brother is attached to his life source, the television. Who knew that the future held two younger sisters for us very close ahead? Bored, I look for my comfort zone, my father. The scare in the garden has made tired. I rest my head on his shoulder.

The last I remembered, I had closed my eyes to rest.

I wake to my mother calling my name. I don’t need her to repeat my name as I catch scent of the secret meal my grandmother was cooking. The smell of my all time, traditional yet exhaustingly time consuming, favorite dish blast my senses awake. I jump up letting my blanket hit the floor.

After washing my hands and face as instructed, I take my place in between my grandmother and grandfather at the table. I let my feet dangle, swinging them around in excitement. My grandmother has made a variety of dishes, yet my eyes, senses, mind and soul are enticed by only one. Looking down at the large pile of stuffed grape leaves, I can’t imagine sitting in the company of anyone else but my dear family.

I open my eyes and smile at the memory I still hold so dear to my heart. Truth be told, I’m not sure how much of that exact memory is real. Deep inside, I know that this one story is made up of several memories. I spent almost my entire childhood in that house, being pampered and smothered in the love and safety of my grandparents. I will always be the first “baby of the baby” in the family for my mother’s parents.

I still drive by that house and slow down to look at the orange grove that held so much of my childhood adventures. The house and land now belong to my uncle and his family. My grandmother insisted she needed to move out after my grandfather passed away, may Allah swt bless his soul. My grandparents took care of that orange grove and the animals that they raised in the acres surrounding the house as if they were living in Palestine. Without out my grandmother’s touch and my grandfather’s love, that orange grove is now just a lost piece of land.

Memories are powerful and lasting.


This is a picture I recently stumbled upon and scanned to my computer to save. That adorably beautiful child on the left who is hugging me tightly is my younger cousin. We are both standing on the edge of our grandparent’s orange grove. I wish you could see the orange trees in the back, but the picture was taken as the sun was setting.

 This is love.

InshaAllah, God-willing, next week I’ll have another post for you. Do let me know if you have any subjects you would like to see me to address in my weekly posts and I will do my best. Let me know if you enjoyed my above story and if you would read more of my stories if I post them here. Until next time…