Enal Hindi at Harper's Magazine:
My father was a dark, skinny man. In the winter, when he would walk through the doors after work, his big nose was always red and watery. He was a country boy, born in Al-Jadeera, a small village near Jerusalem in Palestine. When he was, twenty-six years old, he left his family and his land full of rich olive and fig trees to come to America for job opportunities. When my siblings and I were young, growing up in Chicago, my father used to tell us he had planted pomegranate and citrus trees back in Palestine for us to enjoy anytime we decided to visit. The fig trees were for my mom—her favorite fruit. My father loved his figs and pomegranates. He told us his favorite part was picking them off of a tree he planted in his parents’ garden. When I started sixth grade, we moved back to Palestine. My father enrolled us in the village school. We couldn’t afford the private school in the city that tailored to English speaking students, educated in the United States. My father walked into the principal’s office and explained why holding us back a grade level would be extremely detrimental to our education. “They will try to keep up in Arabic with the rest of the kids. If they don’t by the end of the semester, we can talk. But they are smart girls; I know they will keep up.” My father knew the significance of keeping us in our grade level, even if all the classes in the village school were taught in Arabic. Thanks to him, we transitioned into our appropriate grade levels, and never missed a grade. He spent many hours helping us with our homework, translating from Arabic to English and vice versa. He assigned extra readings and asked us to transcribe long stories in Arabic to improve our grammar and writing.