Based on a childhood memory,
My grandmother’s garden in Amman carries the life of a legacy of homeland and exile. When I was a child, Teta would sit in a plastic chair on the grass and tell me stories about her life growing up in Nablus, Palestine, as I planted the orange tree sprouts she wanted to grow. She wasn’t particularly fond of oranges. I wasn’t either. What I remember more than anything is her response when I asked why we continued to grow fruit we didn’t particularly enjoy. “Home smells like oranges,” she said, “the land always smelled strongly of the oranges that adorned every tree.” I understood then that our gardening was not about the trees we were growing, but about bringing us home to where we cannot return. She said to me, “You’ll be there when you’re near the garden here, and there cannot exist a ‘here’ without our ‘there’”. I did not understand at the time - but the moment stuck with me because it shaped my love of the land and our people’s history. I cannot go to our house in Nablus, and I can never smell Palestine’s oranges. But Nablus has always been in her garden. She has been cultivating Nablus the entire time, and as a result, I have unknowingly been home the entire time.