Teta Nabiha’s
Israeli occupation

“Teta Nabiha’s” is an account of return to Palestine written in creative prose. The essay offers a personalized, non-fictional narrative of the Said family home in Talbiyya, Jerusalem, which my mother’s grandparents, Nabiha and Boulos, built with their cousin Wadie in the 1930s, and to which they never returned following their flight from Palestine in late 1947. On the one hand, “Teta Nabiha’s” is a story of the family home itself, and what has become of it since its confiscation by the Israeli state in 1948. On the other, it is a literary account of our return – my mother, brother, stepfather, and me – in late 2011 to Talbiyya and to what remains of Teta Nabiha’s. Using a combination of secondary source research, family photographs, satellite imagery, descriptive prose, dialogue, and a mix of literary styles, “Teta Nabiha’s” seeks to reimagine Palestinian narratives of return in a way that goes beyond loss and sorrow to imaginatively explore an altogether new tone of Palestinian literature infused with humor, love, sentimentality, creativity, and hope.

Author biography: 

Nadim Bawalsa is a historian of Palestine. He earned a joint doctorate in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University in 2017.