Life in Translation

Photo by: Martin Brazili

My name is Ali Rashi Ibrahim Ali Awad, and I am 18 years old. I live in the village of Tuba. It is to the east of Yatta, south of Hebron and very near to the settlement of Maon. The people of Tuba work in agriculture with animals and plants. Between my home and my school there is a settlement, a forest and some settlers. Now Israeli soldiers escort us to my school to protect us from settlers. But before the soldiers escorted us it was worse then now; settlers would attack us. Now it is easier but I wish the situation would improve, that we could go freely to school without the army and without the settlers. 

I live in a cave, without any other people but not alone. I live with some doves, birds and cats and I am very happy with these animals as my companions. The birds wake up early and their voices wake me so I can start my day. Right now I am studying for the tawjihi exams [the final high school exams in Palestine]. I put the books on the table, turn on my small lamp, and I stay in my cave by myself and I study for many hours, sometimes until midnight. I hope I will get good results because when I finish school I would like to go to university and to study translation because this can help people communicate and understand each other.
People need to realize what is happening around them, how to live in this world.

I have mixed feelings about finishing school. Part of me is sad becuase this is the only school I have ever gone to and I learned a lot there. But I am also happy because I won’t have to go to school any more and I can follow my dream to go to university and study translation. I like to translate stories because you can take people on an adventure. The most difficult thing in translation is the relationship between a single word and the actual meaning of language. Not only do I have to translate the word itself but I have to translate the meaning of the word in the sentence as a whole. I have to translate the feeling. I find this very exciting. For example there is an adiom in English – ‘black sheep’ – that doesn’t really exist in Arabic. If you want to translate black sheep with the words ‘black’ – aswad (or soda for feminine) – and ‘sheep’ – naaji – and you say ‘naaji soda’ to someone here they will tell you that you can find one anywhere – here is a sheep that is coloured black! But as an idiom it means someone who is different, different from his family and their expectations. In my family you can say I am a sort of the black sheep. I am a bit different from my family because all my family are famers, I am the first in my family to finish school and the only one who speaks English. In a certain way I am an outsider, a sort of a black sheep, and I hope there will be many more black sheep in the family. 

I also like poetry. There is a poem that I like about a boy that loves a girl and my favorite lines go: 
‘I looked to you and your greatness overcomes me. I yield my gaze, you have won me.’
People of my age maybe experience feelings like those in in this poem. When you love a girl, you will feel like the poet does.

I have some optimism that my dream will come true, but I am also sure that the occupation can destroy me. What can I do against the occupation? But I try not to let the occupation stop my dreaming. Because I don’t care what the occupation does, what matters is what I want to be. So I defend my rights by the law, because my actions are honest and justified. I don’t give them a reason to feel I want to harm them and I don’t give them excuses to let them stop me, to let them stop me dreaming.