Nazareth: “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”: Souad Qurman is a Palestinian poet and writer. She lives in the village of “Abten” Haifa District, within the 48 lands. She retains an iron memory despite reaching this ninety-fourth day. In the Palestinian cities and countryside before its catastrophe in 1948.
I met her in her peaceful Palestinian rural house, located in the farm “Ezbet Qurman” in the bottom of Haifa district, surrounded by a beautiful garden full of roses and fruitful shrubs. Her home is ancient, filled with memories of carefully selected icons and paintings, family portraits, and a large library full of books evoking the good old days.
Souad Qurman, who appears young in spirit, purity of memory, and elegance of her old age, was born into a well-off family. Some consider her a feudal affair because she owns large areas of land in the village of Abtan, east of Haifa, and calls it “Qarman” in Turkey.
my love Haifa
Writer Suad Abdel Raouf Qurman was born in Haifa in 1927. Her father, Abdel Raouf Qurman, one of Haifa’s notables, was considered one of the largest merchants in Palestine. He died in 1975. She is the sister of the late fighter Abd al-Rahim Qurman, known as “Abed Qurman”.
In response to a question, Karaman says: “Nostalgia always takes me to her, I breathe the air of her caramel, saturated with the scent of pine and the fragrance of dust, and it was saturated with the Tishreen rain after a long summer’s thirst. The sun’s rays are trying hard to send its heat in a final farewell, descending with its foot towards the shore, surrounding it in an eternal embrace, its waves crashing, dancing between conquest and rebound, caressing the sand, sweeping it away and then returning it while it was cold and flew a fine mist with the frizzy waves, the melodies of the atmosphere softening and resurrecting it. It penetrates into space, numbs the nerves and washes away from the soul the troubles of life.”
She also says that Haifa, since her childhood, while she was playing on its slopes, between its mountain and the distant shore, is a dichotomy whose image is immersed in the depths of her soul.” She adds, “The place is rooted in our depths and grows with us.
Souad recalls the days of her childhood and youth in the alleys of Haifa, a city during the 1930s and its old neighborhoods. She recalls the old family house, which was built in 1925 on Khaled Ibn Al-Waleed Street (“Yahiel Street” as it is today) and is located at the border between the Arab neighborhoods and “Hadar”, in The area of residence of the Jews. She explained that the house in which she was born on this day in 1927 is a four-storey stone building surrounded by a rose garden and elegant trees in the middle of which there is a pool of water. The British were building the port and Kings Street after they covered the area with dirt after the sea water reached the wall of the Juraina Mosque.”
It also explains that the house that was confiscated by Israel visited it once, as it was inhabited by Jewish families, and its first floor was a shop, so I pretended as if I wanted to buy things and realized that its Nabulsi floor tiles were still in excellent condition, but I could not stand it, so I hurried out and inside me was a big painful storm.”
Karaman remembers how she used to accompany her mother whenever she was lucky to the city markets and her camel in the Al-Shawam market in order to sew clothes, as the costumes were not ready in those days and the atmosphere of the market is still stuck in her consciousness: “I remember that I was a child holding my mother’s hand while we were in the market and enjoying the sights of the goods and hearing the voices of vendors and inhaled the scents of licorice and tamarind.
The covering of the Holy Kaaba
Among the distinguished memories of the “Bride of Carmel” firmly rooted in her memory, she said: “I remember the honorable covering of the Kaaba that used to pass from Haifa on the train coming from the Levant to the Hijaz through Egypt. She continues, “The train used to stop in Haifa, and the kiswa, which is decorated with beautiful oriental embroidery, was carried over the camel’s hodges, and they circled around the main market street. This happened once a year. For us, this celebration was like a holiday. In his childhood, my uncle Jamal Badran was eagerly waiting for her to pass every year to study her embroidery in order to learn from him, and he would pass it on afterwards. Later, he became an artist and creator in oriental decoration and Kufic calligraphy, graduating from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Cairo.
In the world of entertainment, Souad Qurman narrates with passion and nostalgia the cinema films that she watched in Haifa and says that what she remembers most is the movie “Love and Revenge,” the latest movie of the artist Asmahan, and about that, she adds, “I ran away from school and took my brother and sister with me. He punished me by banning me from school for three days because I went to the cinema without his knowledge and kept begging him until he allowed me to go back to my school. As for my father, he did not miss an opportunity to participate in the parties of Umm Kulthum, Youssef Wehbe and others, because Haifa was brimming with life and culture.”
The Great Palestinian Revolution
In 1936, the Palestinian Arabs went on the famous strike for six months, while Karaman was still in the elementary stage. The revolution erupted between 1937 and 1938 in protest against the “Balfour Declaration” to achieve a national home for the Jews in Palestine. Noting the good relations with the Jewish neighbors until the emergence of Zionism and the beginning of its activity in the city, then the relations were cut off and tension prevailed.
In light of the events of the revolution, she moved in 1937 with her mother and brothers to Beirut, but her father remained in Haifa to take care of his commercial interests. She added, “My uncle Taher was preparing to go to Beirut, and in light of the explosive conditions, he took us with him and we stayed for a year.” In Beirut, I was educated at Miss Amina Al-Maqdisi Primary School. A year later, the mother decided to bring her children home, but the wild road was not safe, so we rode Babur loaded with sheep and climbed onto its roof. The trip from Beirut to Haifa was short, but an amazing journey. When she and her family returned from Beirut, returning to her home was a dangerous process, because the house was adjacent to the Jewish neighborhood, and the neighborhood witnessed severe tension between Arabs and Jews, so the family rented a house in the German neighborhood, and at the Carmelite Nuns School, she studied for one year and received the Italian language.
Nostalgia for Gaza
During that period, the situation worsened in Haifa, forcing her to go to schools in Gaza, where her uncle, Saadi Badran, was an employee in Gaza, and her aunt was the director of the girls’ school there. Rather, her grandmother’s house on her mother’s side lived there at the time. About that, she says, “My uncle Saadi Badran spoke to my mother asking to move to Gaza, and my sister Samiha and my brother Abdel Rahim actually went and it was an enriching and beautiful experience for my uncles in Gaza when it was a peaceful and quiet city on the coast of the sea. I remember him entering the class and talking to the students.”
Karaman recalls that during her one year of education in Gaza, she was taught by the Arabic language teacher, Issam Al-Husseini, and about that experience, she says that in 1940 she joined a school in Gaza City and was educated there by the Arabic language teacher, Miss Issam Al-Husseini, daughter of Hamdi Al-Husseini, the first motive that led to her attachment With Arabic poetry, I have memorized many ancient Arabic poetry and commentaries.
She continues, “The school’s atmosphere was patriotic, so we would organize every morning to sing national anthems such as “My Home” and others, which strengthened the spirit of nationalism and Arabism in my soul, and my soul was kindled by the love of the homeland, the Arabic language and authentic poetry. She continues, “I remember the first verse of poetry that I wrote was directed to the Arabic language teacher, Issam Al-Husseini, at the end of the school year and her having to return to Haifa: Wa Assam, my heart revealed that my eyes will not see her.
She also recalls that she returned again to Haifa, where she received her secondary education at the Nazareth Sisters School, and this movement between all these schools had the advantage of reaping the fruits of different civilizations and methods, as she affirms and adds, wooing with a smile of contentment. Nazareth”.
childhood and adolescence
In memories of childhood and youth, she recalls her mother, Briza Badran, and notes that her name is Turkish, and so her aunts’ names are Turkish (Nahiza, Bakiza and Atika) as was common at that time. She points out that her mother is from the Badran family, who used to live in Haifa, but she is originally from the city of Nablus, and her maternal uncles are the late artist Jamal Badran. And she continues, “the relations of kinship, friendship, and communication with Nablus still exist.”
She indicated that her father, Hajj Abdul Rahman Qurman, married her mother after his wife died as soon as he finished his service in the “gendarmerie” on his return from travel, Safarlik, and they had: Fatima, her eldest sister, then Kamal and Jalal (died while studying medicine in Egypt), Samiha and the late Abdel Rahim Qurman and Nabil ( residing in America), and the late artist Bushra and Hoda residing in America.
She points out that her mother died in 1974, but her father could not separate from her, and he died a year later. Concerning the family’s journey, she says, “My uncle Taher Qurman, may God have mercy on him, was the head of the family and their elder. They moved from Nablus to Haifa, so they had to work hard after the death of their father. Their brother, Arif Qurman, was residing in Haifa at the time. So, he opened a small shop in Haifa, he was selling sandwiches to construction workers on the railways, then he learned to read and write as a young man, and his condition improved and his money increased. As for her father, Abdel-Raouf Qurman, he also worked in a factory, and the siblings’ condition improved thanks to trade that extended to Syria, Iraq and Egypt, and they lived in a king’s house in the Hadar area. We stayed in Haifa until the Second World War, when we moved to the village of Abtan, after the brothers bought the house and the area that belonged to a family friend. He was unable to mortgage it in Safarlak, so my family paid the debt and redeemed the mortgage, and it became our property. We lived here, but my father remained in Haifa. But he used to come to us once a week.
The farm in Abtan
Umm Taher inhales the scent of the earth, and her garden is outside, to revive her memory of the past and the present: “For us, the lowest part was a paradise on earth. .
And about the beginnings of the farm, which extends over about 2,000 acres, which she describes as paradise, “we did not have electricity, so my uncle went to the company to provide him with electric lines. Three wells were dug in this farm, and people and stone revived here, and a sweet factory was set up, an olive oil press, and a grinder of wheat, It provides services to all the neighboring villages, a shop for workers’ supplies, a mosque and a school, the first to be established in the village of Abtan.
The family had participated in the Salti family’s construction of a famous smoke factory in Haifa that produced one million cigarettes per day, and its raw materials came from smoke planted by farmers in the Galilee towns, which was confiscated by Israel in 1948.
Marry a cousin
She reveals that she married at the age of sixteen her cousin Taher, Darwish Qurman, and they traveled for their honeymoon in Cairo by train in 1944 and did not have children until the age of twenty. With her marriage, she began educating herself through reading, and later completed her academic education. During her studies, she gave birth to her sons and daughters, Sawsan, Sulayma, Taher and Mona, and all of this did not hinder her from practicing her hobby of horse riding.
Regarding the Nakba, Karaman says: In 1948, orders were issued to deport us, I put my books in a big bag, and the entire family’s supplies in a truck, and in another car, I, my brothers and my relatives piled up, without my mother, father, uncle Taher and my husband Darwish, so all of them stayed here, we arrived in Beirut, and the family had to In the belly to defy the occupation.
And about the second return from Beirut, she continues, “We returned after several months, but others did not return. The injustice and occupation were great, unbearable for people. Then the situation calmed down after the occupation, and my family started exporting vegetables, fruits, milk and meat to Haifa, to be sold in the German neighborhood.
After returning to the country, she worked as a teacher of English, Arabic and Islamic religion in the primary school in the village of Abtin until the beginning of the nineties, when she submitted her resignation.
How was your relationship with your brother Abd al-Rahim, who was convicted by Israel of collaborating with Egypt?
Abd al-Rahim was a knight, he taught me to ride horses, and he was “Ruwais” in the dabkeh, tactful, intelligent and beautiful, he was my brother and my friend. In commerce, Abdel Rahim worked hard and diligently, before taking a career in politics, and moving to France, to communicate with the Egyptian embassy there, and we did not know anything about his movements until we were surprised by the news of his imprisonment on charges of spying for Egypt in the seventies of the last century.
Has Israel’s accusation and imprisonment of your brother affected the family?
“It affected us greatly. We were highlighted after that. They tried to obstruct our path. For more than thirty years, we have been chasing them to obtain permission to build a housing project, but they kept procrastinating us, and until today we have not been able to achieve our long dream. They also tired us with the issue of taxes, which broke our back financially, until we finally liberated them, above our pursuit here, and the struggle march of my brother Abd al-Rahim, but the Arab regimes did not do justice to him, and he did not find a bosom for him in his great homeland, so he traveled to Europe.
As for the Qurman family, which has become “global”, “between America, Europe, and the West Bank, and here at home, we are all Palestinians in spirit.. I live in Palestine for life.. It is in thought and spirit, it hurts me and I worship it,” says Souad, who issued two books of which: “Haneen Al-Hazar” ” (1995), the book “The Jasmine’s Pergola” (1997), and the book “The Harvest of Life” (2008). She translated a story from English literature into Arabic entitled: “The Events of Nevaria” by the English writer and poet William Cook.
Despite the years, she is still active in culture. She previously edited the “Woman’s Word” magazine, worked on the women and family page in “Al-Youm” newspaper, and presented several television and radio programs. She was elected in 1998 as head of the administrative board at “Al-Midan” theater for five years, and she is one of the founders of The Palestinian Writers Association in 1980 since the sixties of the last century until today, active in literary, women’s and social activities.
She explains that reading is still the closest hobby to her heart, and every Ramadan she reads the Qur’an in search of its soul, its deep meanings, and true righteousness.