May is the month when all Palestinians, in Palestine and in the diaspora, commemorate the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Amna, known as Um Marwan, became a refugee in 1948, after being forcibly removed with the rest of the ethnically cleansed population from the village of Zarnouqa, in Palestine’s Ramla District.
My father took her in a lorry, along with the rest of the Eid clan, to Deir al Balah, in Gaza, for what they thought would be a short while.
In 1949 they moved to Gaza City, then from 1950-52 to Nuseirat refugee camp where I was born, then back to Gaza City in 1969, then to Nuseirat again in 1994 where they both died four months apart in 2005.
I was not there with them in their last years, nor was I able to attend their funerals. Israeli occupation forces were in control of the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, the only access point Gaza has to the external world.
Israel had no intention of allowing Gazans working abroad to return, not even for a funeral. So when Hafez Eid, my father, died in January 2005, I could not go to Gaza to say a last goodbye.
My mother Amna, being the ever loyal wife, could not let him, her zalameh (man), return alone to Zarnouqa. She decided to follow him in May 2005, and again I was not allowed to say a final goodbye.
One unforgettable moment for me was after the Oslo accords were signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s.
I was on vacation from university and went to visit my mother. When I asked her what she thought of the “deal” signed by the PLO leadership, she immediately asked: “Does that mean we will return to Zarnouqa? I want to hear the adhan [call to prayer] from the mosque of Muhammad one last time.”
Amna Abdulla Eid is temporarily buried in Gaza until we finally return to Zarnouqa.
This song is a tribute to her and to all Palestinian mothers enduring Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonization. Listen to it in the player above.
Lyrics by Abdurrahman Al-Abnudi, performed by Haidar Eid.