Tochi Onyebuchi LF13 | The Palestine Papers

A series of essays written over a summer in the West Bank:

"The next morning, waiting for the bus with my co-worker, a large Modernist sculpture behind us, teenaged soldiers with their rifles slapping their thighs drinking coffee around us, I’d glance at my friend, this young Palestinian metalhead, earrings with skulls painted on them, black hair shot through with auburn, having discovered that she was born in her home while her mother watched live coverage of Tiananmen Square. Staying here for 10 weeks, doing the work I’ve been privileged to do, salted my views of this place with a fatalistic pessimism that didn’t see a happy ending anywhere for Palestinians. It was easy for me to believe because it seemed the most likely outcome. A grain of pride sat beneath that ability to distance myself from the parts of this place I’d come to care about it. I could imagine it burning to the ground, so I wouldn’t be completely destroyed when it did. But seeing her now, this girl, it became suddenly difficult to believe such a thing as a happy ending would never be afforded her. The general rendered specific. I want, all of a sudden, to see things turn out all right. For her. For this place. For our colleague whose hearing was once again postponed. For the kid on trial for throwing stones. For the grocer who taught me how to say colors in Arabic by pointing to different packs of Gauloises cigarettes and from whom I buy my twice-weekly stock of Pringles. For the prisoners who are slated to be released in this preamble to peace talks and for those among them who may be rearrested."