“I am here” by Laila Sit Aboha. Editorial introduction for Arab Pop, Spring 2023

As an adage widely attributed to Nagib Mahfuz goes, “your home is not where you were born. Home is where all your attempts to escape cease.” I borrow these words to talk about this new issue of Arabpop and to ask myself what “home” is: an aspiration, a condition, a necessity, but at the same time also pain, lack and nostalgia

For those like me who grew up passing through many houses, material and otherwise, it is difficult to find a synthesis that clarifies exactly the meaning of this term or that can account for all those processes of negotiation between identities, or of construction of the same , to which this gives rise.

The processing of the fourth issue of the magazine and the writing of this editorial coincided with my return home, to the city of Haifa, today Israel and yesterday Palestine. The house from which my grandfather and his family had to flee due to the Zionist violence that in 1948 took over our homes and our country, but failed in the attempt to expropriate our most precious asset, our memory. I have no direct experience of this house, I don’t know its coordinates, I don’t even know where it is yet. Yet I, together with millions of other Palestinians in exile, claim belonging to a partly unknown place, where our family stories have been overthrown by those of the colonizers, but have been transformed into a memory that has never been dissolved. (…) Is it possible to call home the place we come from, but where we have never spent our daily lives?

Together with Shaden, a Neapolitan sister with whom I share the same roots and ramifications of various exiles, we have often asked ourselves what home was for us, without ever arriving at a real synthesis. A few weeks ago she told me that “we are home” and that perhaps we should put an end to this sometimes exhausting search and be satisfied with ourselves. Those who are born and live between different worlds spend a lot of time finding themselves, tired by a sense of incompleteness, of incompatibility with the reality to which we belong.

So... is this getting serious?

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