Translated by: George Rishmawi

In a very emotional and enthusiastic look, as his tears were dripping on his rough face, 76 year old Mahmoud Thuqan gives his 6 year old granddaughter Safa’ a key saying, ‘it is your turn now, we had many promises that our misery will end, but I guess no body can do it for us, we have to do it ourselves’.

The key that he gave to her is not a key for a car, or a safe, yet a house that he left 56 years ago in 1948 when his story as a refugee started.

Thuqan, known as Abu Sabri, (meaning Father of Sabri, his oldest son; the way people call a man with a son out of respect) used to live in the town of Al-Sawalmeh near Jafa until he and his family were forced to leave.

In a noticeable media presence, Abu Sabri passed the key to Safa in one of the activities organized to mark the 56th anniversary. It was a photo gallery of the Catastrophe (Nakba) organized at the premise of Jafa Cultural Center in Balata refugee camp near Nablus. It is called ‘Jafa Cultural Center’ because most of the refugees there came from Jafa and the villages and towns that used to be around it before they were destroyed in 1948.

Closing his teary eyes, a flash back came in his mind as he said, ‘I remember the moment I my town with my family, we were told that we will be away for two or three days and then come back, it won’t be long, but it became long’

Abu Sabri adds, ‘I got married twice and had lots of children, many of them got married and had children as well. I tell all of them how we used to live in our land, farm it and live from it. We seldom needed to get things from another source, until the Brits came and brought the Jews with them to unlawfully become the new owners of the land.

His son, Sabri comments, ‘Our father told us about every moment he spent in our original land and told us about what he faced since he was forced out and took refuge in Balata refugee camp.’

‘We, the children of the refugees, vowed to continue the struggle and to hand over this heavy task to our children, so that they do not forget their eternal right to their land. This became like their daily bread.’ Sabri adds.

On the other hand, Safa., the third generation refugee, realized that she is the star of this story now the moment she took the key.

She left the premise looking around knowing inside that she is carrying a huge burden now much bigger than the actual size of the very old rusty key she just got.

Safa is not the only grandchild to carry this load. All the children of the 700 thousand refugees who were expelled in 1948 and became now about 3 million Palestinian refugees have the same burden. They received the keys.

This burden is getting heavier every day, especially after the USA, the super power in the world abolished their right to go back to their land.

The US, that is supposed to be the sponsored of the peace process that is based on the UN resolutions, is the very same one that killed the peace process.

In the Palestinian tradition, the key now is the symbol of the refugees and they still keep their keys with them to prove that they were there someday and still dream and hope to get back there one day.

Source: Palestine News Network