I had the picture of the home drilled in my memory, I was 5 years old in 1948 when we were made refugees, but I still remember everything. We paced back and forth through the neighborhood inspecting each of the houses, occasionally asking for directions. All the street names had been changed to those of Zionist leaders from Jewish history, and the houses and village shop that were instilled in my memory apparently no longer existed. As we were resting against a wall, I saw a home that resembled ours. We hurried across the street, I could just make out the name in the tile: Ahmad Hamdan Al-Hamshari. I guess their sandblasters to remove our name had been a little rushed.
I was immediately flooded with emotion -- anger, sadness, and most of all, tension, fear and very mixed emotions. I walked through the garden toward the front staircase, putting my hand on the stone banister, as I knew the Hamshari family and my own father must have done countless times. I rang the bell.
After a long wait, an elderly man opened the door. We explained by saying that this was our house, my father had built the home, and asked if we could briefly see the interior. Virtually his first words were: The Hamshari family never lived here. What an easy and fast way to rationalize the seizure of my family's home.
My grand children and I became speechless, as I had never confronted the man's claim. The humiliation of having to plead to enter the home with this man whom I don't know where he came from -- burned inside me. As I stood there, I tried to imagine the sounds of my father's and my brothers and sisters voices, and the smells of my mother's cooking. We left after no more than five minutes.
Instantly my grand children hugged me, we stood there huddled together, tears streaking all our faces. Shortly, we composed ourselves, crossed the street and wound through the garden to the front steps.
Ottawa - Canada