A Vignette: The Bullets

Essay by akadhim09High School, 10th gradeA+, March 2007

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As I walked through my Palestinian home town Nablus for the first time, I easily noticed how my birthplace, Chicago, was light years ahead of this shabby town. Nablus was grimy and rugged, but to me it seemed that the beauty had been present sometime in history. It had simply gone to sleep under the dust. In contrast, Chicago was clean, prosperous, and rich with green. As I peered out of the back seat window while driving with my family through the town, I was baffled by the people who surrounded me. They seemed to be struggling for the basic necessities of life. Many people’s homes were little more than shacks or small rooms. I compared one building to a college dorm room, with the exception that there was often a whole family living in one tiny room.

When my family and I pulled into the front of my grandmother’s house, I was hit by another shock.

Her house was nothing like I expected. I had anticipated a beautiful villa with a sprawling front lawn that included many trees, flowers, and grass. Even as we drove through Nablus I had retained some beautiful image of what my grandmother’s home would look like. However, to my surprise the front lawn was nonexistent. A narrow, short driveway led us to the front door, not a garage. Additionally, I soon realized that nobody spoke English. I had to learn the language of my parents and ancestors, Arabic. Between struggling to fit in with the local kids and school work, I barely had any time to learn the language. Nevertheless, the most difficult thing for me was to accept the apartment we would be living in. It would be months before I began to call it home because it took me a long time...