I Got It From My Baba

No amount of birthright trips will make you Palestinian

Nada Chehade


Me in my mom’s authentic Palestinian tatreez jacket
My mom's authentic Palestinian tatreez jacket—I've taken it out of her closet and put it in mine; it's mine now.

I found my watheeqa in Baba's things. Baba. Allah yirahmo, he even saved the transcripts of my school grades, a fax I sent him when I was abroad at university, and the cheques I gave him when he covered my rent after I got divorced. He never cashed them—thank God. It made me cry and laugh. He was so irritated I got divorced, but he loved me.

I thought I had lost my watheeqa forever, but there it was, almost 20 years later, in Baba's cabinet next to the staircase, between his many files and papers — not just the one I lost, but all the old ones, too. It was like I had found a pot of gold. I feel rich in refugee documents. You have no idea. One day, I will go home.

I remember the days I used to travel with my refugee document like it was yesterday. It was such an odd-sized thing. Bigger than a regular passport but smaller than an A4 paper, with a hard brown cover. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Maybe it was designed that way on purpose — Identity, What is it? by Nada Chehade

Baba was the guy who knew where he came from and was proud. A Palestinian refugee from Lebanon, his father used to beat them when they went to the beach. He and his siblings would wrap their t-shirts on their heads to shade themselves from the sun on the way back from…