The novel "um Saad" by the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani was published in Beirut in 1969 (Al Jazeera)

At the time of the Israeli war on Gaza, Arab readers say that language is no longer enough to describe the horrors of the situation, and many of them invoke quotations of the arts of Palestinian literature such as poetry, prose, novel and story in an attempt to approach both tragedies and heroism.

One of the most prominent masterpieces of Palestinian literature that readers are reliving intensively these days is the work of Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972), including his famous novel um Saad (1969).

Who is um Saad, and why has she been invoked in the current circumstances?

"Daily school"

"Um Saad is a real woman, I know her well, I always see her, talk to her, learn from her, and I am related to her. However, this was not exactly what made it a daily school, for the kinship I have with it is flimsy if it is measured by the kinship that binds it to that valiant class that is downtrodden and poor and thrown in the camps of misery, in which I lived and with whom I lived, and I do not know how much I lived for it."

With these words, Ghassan Kanafani presents the character of um Saad in the introduction to the novel as a real character who hails from the downtrodden working class, living in the camps of misery in Lebanon and comes every Tuesday morning to work in the house of the narrator who lives outside the camp, and tells him about her son who was arrested while trying to join the ranks of the resistance in Palestine, and then tells him later - glowing with mysterious happiness - that he left prison and that his attempts, finally, have been successful.

"I said to my neighbor this morning, 'I would like to have ten like him.' I'm tired, cousin. My age in that camp has worn out. Every evening I say, Lord! And every morning I say, Lord!. It's been 20 years, and if Saad doesn't go, who will?"

The smell of the earth

Um Saad, about whom Ghassan Kanafani brilliantly wrote, is a model of the Palestinian mother who believes that she is part of the change industry, standing under the roof of low misery in the high row of the battle, a woman who is proud to give birth to children to become fedayeen for Palestine, she is the one who was displaced from her land and realized that bullets are the only way back, and that the wound of the homeland is deeper than we imagine, but the hope of recovering what was lost exists for those who realized that Palestine is not only the recovery of memories, but it is Industry for the future.

Kuwaiti novelist Buthaina al-Issa wrote on her Facebook account, "Most of us know (returning to Haifa) and 'Men in the Sun' more than 'um Saad'. But these days I think of um Saad, I conjure her in my imagination and smell the countryside in her, because wherever she goes, she is pumped with the ground and carries in her poor belly the sweat of a dry dahli."

"um Saad is not an imaginary person, yet this novel that I wrote about represents Ghassan Kanafani's statement against despair, absurdity and futility, because she does not stop planting varicose veins in the camp and to the rhythm of defeats, but immediately after her," al-Issa added.

Al-Issa goes on to say that um Saad "instills the deltoid sweat on the door and says, 'In a few years you eat grapes.'" It does this because the deltoid is a giving tree that does not need a lot of water. It takes its water from the moisture of the dirt and the humidity of the air, and then gives without calculation."

A message against despair

It is remarkable that this novel, written by Kanafani two years after the setback of 1967, was a message against despair and a commandment to join efforts and rearrange the cards of resistance instead of emigration; every just cause needs the likes of um Saad, a woman who rises every time from defeat believing that dry oud can grow grapes even after a while; and defends her son, who refused to participate in the process of removing the mud from the camp, preferring instead to fight to eliminate the raison d'être of the camp itself. She is a woman who is good at capturing the causes of hope, no matter how great the misery she suffers.

This is how Ghassan Kanafani embodies the image of a large segment that has political awareness and struggles from its position, with its most precious possession, doing so to portray it as a major engine of resistance and a solid defender of the just cause, and thus sends an implicit message that resistance is the solution, who used to say "Arab countries cannot be relied on to fight for the return of Palestinians to their country," and wrote in his novel:

"He said to her, 'You will be on a homeland.'
um Sa'd said: "There is no one who sleeps in the health of a homeland that will be stained."

The word never dies

For his part, the Egyptian writer Mohamed Samir Nada draws attention to the genius of Ghassan Kanafani, which can be extracted in his short novel "um Saad", through his unification between the land and the mother, and his marriage between dust and body in the main character of his novel, pointing out that "um Saad and Said - that woman / land that did not know happiness - is nothing but a body that grows a thousand fedayeen every morning, after a thousand martyrs disappeared in her evenings, without ever wearing the mourning dress."

The author of the novel "Revealing the Walls" – who was born in Iraq and formed part of his childhood on the rhythms of the Iran-Iraq war – adds that "the Palestinian mother, like the fields of Palestine, gives birth to men with a gun in their hand, breastfeeds them with her power, there where babies do not cry, do not delay walking, and do not know how to crawl back, if a martyr falls from them, she returns him to her womb, which does not age and does not exhaust its fertility, in order to give birth to him again."

Samir Nada – speaking to Al Jazeera Net – that "the features of um Saad resemble our mothers and grandmothers, living among the rubble of camps, the values of pride in the right, and the pride of the commando who breastfed, and all this strength, solidity and altruism."

He continues, "Um Saad proves, in this eternal narrative, that this land will not be lost as long as its children remain steadfast, and that a homeland like Palestine will not be absent from the world map, as long as it remains under its wreckage, in its camps, in its hospitals and schools, and in what remains of its upright role, mothers who recycle hope, give the dead a new birth, give their children misery, and then inspire generations that have spread the banners of despair..."

While some countries of the world boast of their gold and equipment, Palestine – according to Samir Nada – is "the richest country on earth, with the wombs of its women, all wealth is depleted, except for the womb of the Palestinian mother and her chest full of strength and hope, and her stability in front of thrones and coffins."

The Egyptian writer confirms at the end of his speech that the occupation targeted Ghassan Kanafani for such words and meanings, "so he bombed his pens and thought that he silenced him, but the weapons of the whole world, even their most powerful bombs, will not be able to subjugate the Palestinian mother, just as they were unable to silence Ghassan half a century after getting rid of his body. The Word does not die, and mothers in Palestine do not stop giving birth to words."

um Saad's will

Moroccan novelist and translator Abdelmajid Sabata said that the women of the Gaza Strip carried out um Saad's will to the letter.

"A few days after the outbreak of the new war on the Gaza Strip, an 'old-new' project came to light aimed at deporting the people of the Gaza Strip and resettling them in the Egyptian Sinai, and perhaps doing the same later with the people of the West Bank and expelling them to Jordan, which represents a new Nakba and an effective end to the Palestinian cause, whose people have been struggling for more than seven decades," added Sabata, whose novel was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

He added – the author of the novel "File 42" in his speech to Al Jazeera Net – "The occupation army has talked more than once about its desire to displace the residents of the north of the Strip to the south "safe", in a repeated embodiment of the lies that have always been professional throughout the years of existence of his entity. "

Sabata concludes his speech by saying that the women of the sector work at the will of um Saad, whether they read the novel or heard of it or not, he explicitly declared that what happened in 1948 will not be repeated, and will never leave their land, and that they are ready to provide their children for martyrdom, and to exert precious and precious in order to abort this scheme, as long as the homeland "is not to happen all of this" according to Kanafani himself.

Ghassan Kanafani understood his people well, and used his pen to awaken his enthusiasm and encourage him to resist the occupier in all ways, so Israel realized his danger early on and killed him with a car bomb explosion in 1972.

Source : Al Jazeera