|Pictured: Mike Hanini Odetalla's photo of his late mother (ay), uncle, and grandfather AbdelKader Allah Yirhamu circa mid 1960's in #Palestine.|
My memories are of an elegantly dressed man, a Fellah, always in the traditional Palestinian dress of a kunbaaz, hata, wa akhaal, standing tall, never hunched over, dramatic weathered face, chiseled by the Palestinian sun, wind, and life of a true man of the land! He walked, always upright, walking stick in hand, and his ever present pipe, safely tucked in the belt of his kunbaaz.
A widower at a relatively young age, he never remarried, raising his 8 children with love, wisdom, and patience! I used to beg him to show me the battle wounds he suffered serving in the Ottoman Army during WWI, a bullet hole that ripped clear through his shoulder, which amazed me as a child. After the Balfour Declaration, he joined his fellow Palestinian young men in signing a pledge to fight the Zionists....
If one were to paint a picture of a typical Palestinian Fellah (farmer), my grandfather would have served as the perfect model! He knew the land on an intimate basis, and derived great joy being an integral part of it!
His red patterned handkerchief (yes I still remember it well some 49 years later) served as his "lunch box", as he would wrap a piece of fresh baked taboon bread, a tomato, onion, some cracked olives, some zataar, and head for the fields, or hills where he lived, preferring to eat his typical lunch under the shade of an olive tree...I still have images in my mind of him laying down, propped up on one elbow, finding refuge from the hot summer sun under the shade of an olive tree, puffing away on his pipe, the epitome of contentment! No radio, no noise, just the sound of his beloved land, whispering to him through the breeze stirred leaves above...His love for and of the land had a very profound effect on me, still does!
The last time I saw my grandfather was in the summer of 1969, just before we left for the USA! He passed away in 1978, a year before I was to return to Palestine for the first time in 1979...Allah Yirhamu wa Yirham kul imawatna!