[This article is part of a bouquet developed by the Jadaliyya Palestine Page Editors to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (15 May 1948), the day that marks the beginning of an ongoing struggle for Palestinian liberation and self-determination in the face of the violent establishment of the state of Israel on the land of historic Palestine. This day would mark the displacement 750,000 Palestinians, the razing of over 500 Palestinian villages, the murder and internal displacement of countless more, and 75 years of settler-colonial rule. Read the rest of the articles featured in this bouquet at the bottom of this page.]
“Do not despair.”
- Khader Adnan (1978-2023)
Over the years, my dreams, like my politics, have become less vivid, messier. I used to remember every detail in the mornings, but now I recollect my unconscious adventures throughout the day in waves of blurry plot points. I used to think everyone dreamed all night and remembered, but of course, with time and age, I realized how rare that is for most of us.
Growing up, I had a game with my father where we would talk about our dreams – like travel from which we had just returned. We usually did it out of earshot from my mother, because the content worried her more than it did us. Occasionally though, Dad was gone, and I would awake to tell my Mom about a trippy journey to nowhere. Before I ever had a chance to begin, there was always an immediate “khair allah humma aj‘alu khair” from her lips. My sister has inherited the habit, an instinct that is as quick to her as breathing when someone mentions a dream. My brother poeticized the dilemma of a dream’s power in a way that burrowed itself into my brain for years, leaving me counting heartbeats in the mornings. Decades later and long since those games with my father, I think now of how much my dreaming has changed.
Today, my dreams come almost solely in the daylight hours, sleep rarely involved. I travel less in them than I once did and mourn more than ever. They are not weighed down by sadness though, only guided by new memories and collectives and inspired by a larger love.
We are certainly not in need of another essay on dreams and memories as yet another Nakba commemoration arrives at our doorsteps. And yet, I felt the need to help give myself and others permission to have that be what guides our day. On any day, letting oneself dream feels like your body and mind are wrestling with all of history. But on days like today, it is incredibly more difficult, if not altogether paralyzing.
We do have so much to mourn, so much recorded loss that stares back at us on maps and texts.
We also have done so much more than survive those losses.
We have built communities across space and time, across borders and generations. We have insisted that it is possible to look back and look ahead in the same breath. We have redefined exile and return time and again. We have recognized ourselves in others the world over and embraced their recognition of themselves in us. We are lost almost daily and find ourselves in each other again just as often.
It is 75 years since the Nakba, but it is much longer since our collective time wading through the messiness of our dreams. May you wade through them today with a full heart.