In a Second

I thought I’d see you again. Just once more.

Unlike all love stories, I don’t remember how I met you nor does my story end happily.

My first memories of you were in our school’s playground, when you would smile at me while I was doing homework -or pretending to-, while you’d chase me while eating lunch and while you would hug me while I had nobody to hug. You were my first best friend and eventually the only love I ever knew.

I remember your visits to our house with your sweet mom, we would play and laugh for hours that felt like seconds and then I’d break in tears when it was time for you to go home again. We collected pokemon stickers together, we did our english homework together, we ate together and nothing made me happier than sharing my candy with you at school. I remember how I would send you letters and hide yours in my closet.

We grew up together; we sat on the same desk in the same classroom and on the same bench in the same playground. That lasted almost fifteen years. I saw you everyday of every week. I talked to you every hour of everyday.

“Nour” Mama called with her loud Arab voice…no one can ever get used to it. I ran to her room and now I wish I never ran. “It’s time for you to know that we’re leaving…for good habeebty. This will be good for us and I know you will make great friends. This will give you a good future.” She was smiling but I knew that under that smile there was pain.

I’m not going to lie; I guess I saw this coming. Dad and mama have been planning to leave for a couple of years now. Since the start of the second Intifada, our lives were completely changed, my family had nothing to live for here. We decided to follow Dad’s friend, Maher to ol’ lovely America, land of democracy and great opportunities. Ha.

The next day at school, I whisper to Salim to go to the garbage can so we can sharpen our pencils. This was code for ‘We need to talk’. I vividly remember that exact conversation. “We’re leaving to the US.” Salim was silent. I had a feeling he already knew this was going to happen. Parents talk. It was the first time I see tears in his piercing brown eyes. He turned around and left the class.

“Salim! Salim! Where do you think you’re going?” Miss Deena was shouting.

He was gone.

I was waiting for his goodbye but Salim never said it.

In my suburban high school, I was struggling to fit in and find my place, if it was even there. Homework, friends and all the details kept me away from you, even in my mind. I hardly thought about what was and what would have been. I was too caught up in making a life for myself. I never felt that I was heartbroken, everything happened too fast. Until that day Salim, do you remember?

Salim called me, as soon as I heard your sweet eternal “hello”, I was instantly paralyzed. Immobilized by the alien thought of you. I was shedding tears for you.

I believe all your words, you said you were sorry you never said goodbye.

Should I have believed you? I shouldn’t have. You broke the promise you made to me that day.

Things took a strange turn ever since. A strange and frightening turn.

After that phone call, we would speak frequently, sometimes I loved you, sometimes I didn’t. The distance frustrated me. I needed you here with me, going through what I was going through, helping me when I’m in trouble, walking me to school, sitting beside me on the playground’s bench.

Despite the difficulties, Salim and I made plans. We would imagine our future together, I would eventually finish my studies and help Salim come here so we can start our life together. We’d speak for hours on the phone making up the most ridiculous scenarios of how it would be like.  We wanted three kids, two boys and a girl. I wanted a cat, he wanted a dog- we knew who’d win that one.

These days were the happiest. I was sure I wanted to be with you forever. You’re my soulmate. I knew you for years and years. We shared our childhood together and I was looking forward to sharing our adulthood together too.

But I didn’t get to see you grow into a man. And I never will.

On my eighteenth birthday, Salim was shot in the back during a street crossfire near Toulkarem.

With Salim’s death, I died inside.

Thank you War for tearing us apart.


Dear Salim,

Hope you’re doing well.

I miss you and I impatiently wait for the day I see you again. Wait for me.

With love,


What if

Most people, well, all people agree that the word “what” is a pronoun used interrogatively as a request for something. The word “If” is a conjunction used on the assumption of something or actions. Both words are as non threatening as words can be. But put them together, “What if” can be a question that can haunt us for the rest of our lives. Us humans tend to be dramatic and emotional by nature. We easily adapt, adjust, fall in love, grieve and move on. What we can’t plainly accept though is a power of force that can change our lives unwillingly. We can sit there for days on end wondering why we are under certain circumstances and why we surrender to them.

It’s very easy to watch films and get drawn to the stories told. It’s also very easy to become consumed in a story simply because we secretly wish we were living it. What is more incredible is that we are all aware that happy endings and fairytale stories are as far away from reality as the Earth from the sun but never stops us from dreaming and asking ourselves “what if…that was me?”

Truth is, we are all lovers. We love our families, our pets, our homes, our cities, our clothes, our friends. It can sometimes be a kind of love for just one of those or all but generally we tend to prioritize our loves as well. Sometimes, our love for one thing push us to sacrifice others. At the time of writing this, I sat in Saudi Arabia where I was unemployed and lonely all for the love I hold for my family. Nevertheless and despite the circumstances I am sometimes put under, I never forget to count my blessings and keep looking forward to the future. But for how long?

In my long hours of the day, I try to read as much as I can but I can’t deny that my love for movies is what gets me through the day. I can’t help but get lost in the charms of hopelessly romantic films that make think of my own “What if’s”. What if I traveled around the world for a year? What if I set my own art studio and painted all day? What if I wrote books? What if I danced freely in the streets? What if…what if….what if..

The only way we can answer our “what if’s” is by going through with the answer. This is the difference between our lives and the movies we keep watching. In movies, the characters we admire take risks we never take ourselves, they make things happen and chase their dreams and loves without thinking where it would lead them. We feel as though we live our dreams through these characters. They do what we can’t do. Real life is too unkind to let us happily follow our hearts without facing consequences. Our inner realists immediately answer our “what if” question with a mean slap from life. This is why I think that courage is our key to a happy life. Without courage, we can never seize the chances granted to us from God. There is a reason behind every person’s presence in our life, behind every chance that comes our way and behind every opportunity handed to us. Without courage, we will never really know what happiness means because it takes so much more than just going where life takes us. Life doesn’t really know who we are, so we show it who we are, not wait for it to change us into people we don’t want to be.