Sometimes you fall for the narrative. You fall so hard that the narrator, the conduit through whom the story reaches you, escapes your scrutiny. That’s how I ended up married to a curly-lashed Palestinian student in the Journalism Department while still an undergraduate English major at the University of Karachi, in Pakistan.
His was a gripping narrative of home and the sudden violence of its loss, a communal loss of freedom and autonomy for an indigenous people. The narrator had a six-year-old’s memory of the 1967 annexation of Gaza.
At twenty-one, I defied the expectations of my elders and married this bearer of the story, a testimonio from a faraway place that made the headlines of the Dawn newspaper real to me. The one good thing I owe directly to that too-long marriage of six years—from which I had to literally sneak out—is that it enabled me to visit the foreign and forbidden land of Gaza. What seemed like a feat in 1986 is almost an impossibility for any non-Gazan today.