My grandmother’s fingers are covered with scars. Some are short and delicate. These nicks Sitti gave herself while cutting tomatoes for fattoush salad, my father’s favorite. Others are round and red, like pomegranate seeds. She burned those marks into her flesh when she baked loaf after loaf after the Israelis demolished our neighbors’ tahboon oven.
The day that the army drove their bulldozer to our village, my brothers and I ran after the soldiers. We wanted to see whose home they were coming to crush into rubble. My father followed, too. The whole village gathered to yell and to cry. Only Sitti stayed inside. She seemed to know that the soldiers would pick the Rishmawi family oven. She started mixing dough before the demolition began.
“They were fortunate,” my father said. “Only that old pile of stones. They will survive.”
My grandmother thought the future of the Rishmawi family was not so certain. Bread, she told me, is a serious matter. So, she baked and baked, burning three of her fingers. When she finished, she wrapped her hand in white gauze and wrapped the mound of bread in a white towel. She delivered the loaves to Mariam Rishmawi, who… Read more »