When I posted this Challenge couple of weeks ago, I thought it was a great idea as a response to the conversations I was having about how little do women support each other. Little did I know how challenging it was going to be and on more than one level. First and foremost, that I will have to reduce my list to only 30 women, when I had at least 100 names. That I will need to choose based on feelings and not necessarily on any objective criteria. Most importantly, that crafting this list is putting me in a very vulnerable position of sharing my own personal growth stories through the women that influenced my life, that loved and supported me and that some of them don’t even know that.
I have worked a lot to fight the injustice of what my gender brought to the table for me. For a long time I wished I was a man, having all the privileges that they have. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a woman, but I didn’t like the value that society attributed to it and wanted to be valued and acknowledged for my power, intelligence and strength rather than for my beauty and grace.
But, the more I connected with the lineage of women behind me that are holding me, supporting me and loving me, the more I realised how false and twisted is the myth that we are the “weaker” sex, that we are hysteric, drama queens and emotionally unbalanced. Honouring one’s ancestors is said to be very important in one’s lineage, family constellations and personal empowerment.
So, with 2020 just beginning, I am starting the dance in uncharted territories, very far away from my comfort zone. And I start the challenge by naming my maternal grandmother.
My maternal grandmother and a Real Wonder Woman
She is 90 and has Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, her joy is contagious. She inspires me by her strength. She didn’t know her mother, who died when she was very young and was raised by her stepmother who treated her as a servant.
She got married when she was 12 and had 12 children: six boys, and six girls. She gave birth to my mother in the midst of the Nakbah (what the Palestinians refer to as the catastrophe when Palestine was divided into two countries) while she and her family were on its way out of Jaffa and fleeing to Gaza by boat. As soon as she felt the contractions, she decided to stay behind.
My grandma taught me how to be happy regardless of the circumstances, and one of her best sentences that I hold and cherish in my heart is: Shamet il hawah wala shorb il dawa. In Arabic, it means: It’s better to travel than to drink medicine. Indeed, her life’s joy is connected to her freedom to travel, visit her family in Gaza, in Jordan and the US, and discover new places. Still at her age.
I feel very connected to my grandmother, and when I go back to Jaffa and visit her or when I call my mum and speak to her, I immediately feel her joy and laughter in my heart. She still sings despite her illness and is happy when she remembers me and tells me different stories from her childhood, youth and adult life.
I always felt so loved and supported by my Grandmother.