Sixty-six year old Fatme, the mother of Wartha Najur, was busy herself in a makeshift cooking area, without roof but looks like a small cave which is an extension of a tent room when we came to their “house tent”. I approached and greeted her, “marhava” – hello and “saba elker” – good morning and she responded me with her broad smile and welcoming nod. I looked into the big cauldron and smiled at her as she took a sip of the broth. She began to talk to me with sign language, but alas I could not understand. Then she pointed out to me what she was cooking and took some meat, showed to me and then pointed out to the tent-house of the sheep. I realized then she was cooking the meat of the sheep. Ola… I smiled to myself, surely this would be our lunch. When she stood up, I asked here (with my hands doing the sign language if I could take a picture of her. She nodded and stood straight facing to me. I was mesmerized looking at Fatme taking a pose for me with the landscape of the hills and valleys as her background. I felt goosebumps looking at her with her genuine smile. I did not know but on that instant I pictured her on my mind as Ana, mother of Mary, the mother of Jesus. How I got the thought at that instant I never knew. Before I entered the tent-house, I asked her to have a pose with. She gladly nod her head as I heard we are called to enter the tent-house.
Fatme as I observed, is a very strong woman as I saw her carrying a big pail of water on her head coming from a distance under the heat of the sun. But non the less, she survived all the demolitions, harassment from the settlers and the Israeli soldiers and the difficulties of their lives confronted as Palestinians. She withstand all her sixty-six years of existence with a ready smile and faith that there will be time for peace and abundance. What I can never forget was her smile and happy disposition throughout the time we were with the Najur Family.
Entering the house-tent, a one big room house, we are greeted by her daughter Wartha, son-in-law Khaled, the shepherd and a guest, half lying on a mattress (a typical Palestinian setting of a living room). As we set down on a mattress, we were offered a tea and a snack: fried sheep’s liver with sliced tomatoes and some peppers and a tabon bread (like a thick pizza crust). What a snack, really! Well, it was just past 10:30 in the morning, Hannes and me were already hungry from the morning shepherding. Yes, we were not shy so we ate.
Past 11 am, I saw Fatme busy preparing something. With my curiosity I started asking, of course it was not easy one because all the the family members around could not speak English and neither we can speak Arabic. However, I got the answer, Fatme was preparing a cheese soup for our lunch. Looking at her hands so confidently but relax with what she was doing and from time to time smiled at me, I gestured if I could again take her a picture. She nodded.
After the cheese soup was ready, we were served the very typical special Palestinian meal: curried rice with lamb-mutton stew. That was my first time to taste as well as the soup (but really sorry Ama/Mother Fatma I could not) and I ate other one offered. After the past 1pm lunch, we were served grapes, cactus fruits and figs.
Whoaaa.. real heavy meal that sustained us for the afternoon shepherding. What a bliss sharing meal with the family, however, I always observed that women do not eat with men together. Only men ate with us but the women ate on the other side or at the kitchen.
After everything cleared, Fatme spent her afternoon rest with the visiting granddaughters with their sons, happily exchanging jokes and heard their laughter as we were preparing to start the afternoon shepherding. I will always remember Fatme, as I feel missing my grandmother Servillana. God bless Fatme!