Generations - Franck Saurel

Article published on Sept. 8, 2007
community published
Article published on Sept. 8, 2007
Here are some words...the continuation. Generations. The past, the present and the futur. A grand-mother, her sons and her grandson.... Time. Two days passed since those photos were taken in the Jenin refugee camp and those pictures haunts me. It was warm, the sun was at its zenith and its light made walls of a blinding white.
The camp seemed to have fallen asleep, stunned by overwhelming temperatures of the beginning of afternoon. Some olive-wood growed close to the main road which goes up and spouses outlines of a hill. Vestiges of the second Intifada and the Operation "Defensive Shield" catch my eyes. A mausoleum, a huge cemetary at a scale of a district and a frightenning void... The slightest step raises a stifling dust, the slightest look turns to a stifling vision and... ghosts are all around me. They take shape on these posters sticked on walls of each road, each home, even sometimes on hanging boards of roofs and covering a piece of sky. They pose on war costume, weapons in hand. It was warm... beads of sweat burnt my look. In a road, 30 Israeli soldiers died in a trapped house... A VICTORY? It was warm... My skull begged a shadow, a fresh breath.

A car full of holes and exploded window glasses testifies in the courtyard of a house which is in the same state. Men, women and children in Palestine died on those walls, those seats... A VICTORY? It was warm... tears run, salt stings my face, I sweat too much... a break, a real break, my heart wants it, peace. I keep silence during long minutes, I try to calm my cardiac rate, this liquid invading my body disorderly as were my emotions this day... Stop talking... ALL. I close my eyes, a flood of tears invades me, struggle becomes impossible and I fall into this feeling of impotence... I must continue.

A small shop: an old woman, her two sons and their children gathered together in the corner, looking at us in a questionning manner. The woman put on a dress and a white veil, she smiled... Her story is the same as all Jenin refugees camp, she lived in Israel until settlers setted up, expelled her and forbade her to come back... 1948. There was only tents at that time. She wants to come back where she was born, where her parents were born... come back to her roots. I understand. Her two sons who are about 30 years old were next to her holding the shop. One standed in front of me, a hard look but pleasant. He asked me a cigarette and we finished it in the shade of a tree. "I come from France...Paris...", "Oh, Paris...OK". He plunged his look in mine, he moved towards me and murmured "I come with you...", he wants to leave. I understand. His brother sits down a mat, his son in his arms. He told us the story of this country, this city and this street... and shit! He lost the fingers of his left arm during the first Intifada, the second will take away his right arm and leg in a explosion. My eyes crossed his children, his daughter and his son looked at me in a questionning manner, a soft intensity, opened on this world, this child looks, simply innocent. I had in front of me the whole story of this conflict, what it was, what it is and it will be. The father tells us that once in the hospital, doctors announce him that he will be amputated... and will never have children again... months later, against the warning of one and fatalism of others, he will phone those doctors to announce that his son was born alright... A victory, a real one. Here exists a flower that Arabs call "leilat all k'drr", it blooms and just delivers its scent in the depths of the night...

Leila Saida.

Franck Saurel

Translated from French by: Hanan ben Rhouma