The air is alive with the rolling “r’s” of French, the harsh “kh” sound of the Arabic language, and in the corner of the grass field, near the fallen sycamore, an easily distinguishable Californian drawl.
Here, in the tiny red-gated house amongst the olive-groves of Zay, Jordan, they come together in a yearly reunion.
They are a plethora of colours, of voices, of backgrounds. Yet they are drawn here by the heady magnetism of home. Educated in the world’s finest institutions, it has become almost habitual for them to switch between languages as their lips form each syllable.
They are nine brothers and sisters with three or four children each, and despite having raised their families in over twelve different countries, each summer they slip into their Palestinian roots as easily as a man raised on the very soil they abandoned at birth.
Being here, on the red-dusted pathway of the Bazian household, I wrap myself in the warmth of lilting voices. They speak of the country they never had the chance to see with a love that resonates in the resolute silence. They speak of financial crises, of architecture, of engineering, they speak in tongues and song and laughter.
This is my environment. These are the people who grew from a seed of war and flourished into a movement of education and prosperity, of determination, of iron-willed anger that spurred an exodus of success.
Being here has led me to marvel at how the intangible can shape a person’s dreams in innumerable ways. It was listening to my grandfather as he recited poems in Arabic, French and English that inspired my love for the incredible movement of literature and the arts. It was watching as conversations unfurled between family members who had not seen each other in over ten years that taught me the strength of culture. It was here, in the family gatherings where we sprawled out across the lawn to watch films in silent unison where I first realized my dreams of producing my own movie.
Watching these eyes, fixed in rapt focus on the television screen, I saw the scars ebb from my family’s faces. I saw the corporate magnate and the ex-soldier forget their differences and fall into an emotional tango, lost in the words of the characters on the screen. I saw this family, myself included, that had spent so much time being absorbed by the complicated nature of our origins, stop for a moment and just be.
It is being surrounded by these different wavelengths and watching them resound in perfect harmony that brought about my hope for change.
And there is nothing as simple, as powerful, as easy, as film to do it.