The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop
It is 1:00 am. Everything around me is darkness, except for a dim light from the small battery-powered lamp in the middle of the living-room. The light is so dim that I can hardly see the faces of my family, who are all still awake.
It is 1:00 am and they act as if it is 8:00 pm.
My brother Khaled, as usual, is fighting with my other brother Mohammed. Khaled thinks his age gives him the power to ask Mohommed to bring him whatever he needs. Sarah, my sister who hates fighting, stands up and says: “Both of you shut up, I’ll bring the pillow!”
My mom is quiet this night, I am not sure if she is tired or sad.
My dad is smoking and surfing the Facebook pages. Every ten minutes he tells us one of the Facebook jokes which we all know, but we laugh. It is our dad, we should laugh.
Then suddenly, and from nowhere, small hands grab my cheeks! And Lolo turns my face toward hers and says: “Leema!” (which is close to my actual name, Reema), “Leema! What about making a cake!?”
In less than a second my mom breaks her silence and says: “LOLO! It is too late for a cake!”
Alma, or as we call her, “Lolo,” is my youngest sibling, with a 20 year gap between me and her. She came to this world as a surprise; she is a gift from God to my family.
In one of the largest camps in the world, and in a place like this which is full of sadness, stories, and tragedies, a little creature who was made from joy was born. She brings all the happiness with her and makes our house laugh again.
Because I am leaving this camp to go to Canada soon, I made a promise to do anything Lolo wants. I want her to remember me, her biggest sister, who loves her more than words can say. And without thinking, I say: “Yes, let’s make a cake.”
Lolo hugs me and kisses my cheek and starts jumping and yelling: “keeekaaa keeeekkaa keekaa!”
She is happy and I am more.
I turn on the flashlight on my phone and hold Lolo’s hand to walk to the kitchen. I can see my mom’s eyes clearly saying: You will clean that kitchen before you sleep.
I put everything we need on the ground; it will not be a good cake if Lolo does not help. I measure everything we need using cups. I set down a big bowl, and me and Lolo mash the banana. After that, the little hands pour the flour and sugar while I stir the mixture.
While Lolo is adding the last cup of flour, it drops from her hands, and the kitchen floor is covered with flour, flour all over our clothes. Lolo looks to me with crying eyes and says: “Assf, Assf,” so I hold her little hands.
While I am cleaning up, I look to her and say: “Do not be sorry, that is fine, we will clean it later, let’s finish the cake now.” Usually I may get annoyed about the mess, but these are my last days with Lolo and with my family, and I will not let anything bother me.
We put the cake in the oven. After ten minutes, we smell it baking. Aromatic. Fresh. Sweet. I try to see it with the light from my phone, but I cannot. The oven looks dark and nothing is clear.
Somehow, this reminds me of my future and my next step. I have no idea how it will be, just like I have no idea if the cake will rise, or not. Signing that paper makes it harder for me; how can a piece of paper cause so much pain? I still cannot believe that they will force me to sign that I cannot go back to Jordan, cannot see my family, cannot watch Lolo growing up. Why do I have to choose between my family and my dream? What is the right decision? How I can leave my mom? I saw with my own eyes how she spent nights crying for my sister, who left to go to France nine months ago!
And Lolo. How I can not hug Lolo again?
“Leema!!” Lolo says and interrupts my thought’s maze. “Is the cake ready now??”
Yes it is, Lolo. And guess who will take the first bite.
She screams: “LOOOLOOO!”