MARJORIE GELLHORN SA'ADAH
*This is the way a generation ends. By writing the recipe down like this: "Take some good flour and add water slowly. Be careful not to add too much water too quickly, but do add enough until the mixture is just right." Mix it with your hands in the rhythm of a woman who has kneaded for a long time—years—and who kneads in such a way that the people—relatives—who finally come together in the living room or around the dining room table, have no idea how long it takes except by the perky remarks of some woman— who married in with no idea that any one was different from any other—saying, "Oh, Rose, you must have spent hours."
Rosiegram we called her. I had thought we had been taught by our parents to attach a suffix of "gram" to our grandmothers' first names and call our grandfathers by their first names. When I was grown, I read something—probably while snooping—that my grandfather had written about his grandparents. He called them Grandmother and Grandfather. Any other word would have shown disrespect. I was horrified, terrified—I suddenly realized that I had been rude to my grandparents for my entire life. I should have known better. I asked my father, whose eyes would flash deep and angry if we ever, even in jest, called him by his first name, why we called our grandparents by their names. I can't remember exactly what he said, but he made it clear that he never called his parents or grandparents by their first names; still in his fifties speaking of Mommy, Daddy, and Grandmother. You start to think that this rudeness, this inappropriate behavior, this incorrect unknowing comes from an inherent place inside of you. I should have known better.
I should have known I couldn't help it so I could have changed something, done something, or at least been quieter. I should have known they would leave us out there having to figure it out alone.____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Food for Our Grandmothers:Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists. Contributors: Joanna Kadi - Editor. Publisher: South End Press. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 50.
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