Reja-e Busailah has lost two dear parts of himself over the course of his lifetime: his sight and his homeland. In his autobiography, “In the land of my birth: A Palestinian boyhood”, Busailah documents his childhood in the lead up to the loss of Palestine in the 1948 Nakba and at the same time offers the reader an insight into what it is like to be a young boy who often feels different to his friends because they can see and he can’t. His memoir is a moving window onto the struggles of boyhood, his relationship with his family and the fight against foreign occupation.
The most vivid memories recounted in “A Palestinian boyhood” are Busailah’s descriptions of everyday objects that the sighted might take for granted, or miss, because we are too focused on the visual world. A newspaper smells much stronger than a book, he tells us, and it is possible to tell the size of a room by its echo. Busailah enjoys the smell after the rain and of bread and olive leaves burning on the fire when Uncle Muhammed bakes bread.
When his mother uses the analogy of a peeled, hard-boiled egg to describe a face that is not quite right Busailah notes how at odds he is with the sighted. For Busailah this doesn’t make sense because a peeled egg feels soft, smooth and ultimately pleasant.
This book has been shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards 2018, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine book awards site