The void of not living in Palestine, to me, can never be one hundred percent filled, ever. Living in the diaspora is a sort of despair we did not wish upon ourselves; it is our inescapable reality. That is, at least, how I feel.
Throughout my time here in Canada, I have met so many Palestinians. I even lived in the Middle East, and I have never met a community of Palestinians like here. We all have something in common: we are desperate to try to define home because we have never lived in Palestine. A lot of us travel to find what we could have had.
We are all so very different than each other. We are all despaired, fighting occupation in one way or another, and we all connect to each other on an emotional level. I always knew of this; it was all internalized. Though, I never thought to come and speak it until today.
Each of us is categorized as Palestinians who are fighting for their cause. Living here in Canada, I realized we all look at occupation as terrible, but it has impacted us differently. According to our emotional thresholds and our own personal experiences, we handle situations differently.
I came to realize this when I could not get a visa to visit my family who went to Saudi Arabia for Umrah, as a Canadian who did not have a muhrem to go with me from Canada. I truly felt like I was sort of misplaced and helpless, although I have lived here for a while. How come I get this one chance to see my family out of Palestine, but I am so away? The occupation affects us all directly, no matter how far away from Palestine we are.
Usually, people look at Palestinians in North America as the lucky ones who got away, but my heart hurts for the companionship of my brethren. Sometimes I wonder, would we have come here even if Palestine was free? Would we still come here if we didn’t need to? Would this life still be better for us? I mean, realistically, is anything about this fair?
We are all different, but we have that feeling of despair; we channel the negativity into positivity by building this community in the diaspora for us, and for the people back home to see that we are living, that we are okay.
I talked to several of my Palestinian friends, and they feel disconnected as well. With persistence and determination, however, they really do try to build a sense of home, which is something I am oh-so-proud of.
After telling my Palestinian friend what happened with me, we just sat there and talked for hours about how we are all internally struggling with having never lived in Palestine. Politics aside, it is emotionally draining. You try to do something for Palestine in the diaspora, but really, you just feel like you are from away from the scene, that you must integrate into a society that is meant for everyone. Then how come it never feels like enough?
I know a lot of people that tell me to just live without questioning and pondering everything because this is my reality. That is like asking me to look past all the injustices that happen to this entire population, plaster on a fake smile, and move on. We can feel, be angry, and live without filters. Every word matters; everything we are matters.
Then I looked at all my Palestinian friends. They come here for an education, for better opportunities, and some have been born here. Some hate it, and some love it. We are all different, but we have that feeling of despair; we channel the negativity into positivity by building this community in the diaspora for us, and for the people back home to see that we are living, that we are okay.
The situation is not always as bad: I made lifetime friends and found my voice here, and I will forever be grateful. We are people filled with love, life, and freedom, and therefore we strive to live our lives truthfully. This will never, however, negate how we feel about the occupation. I leave you with what we always say: we are returning.