My dad was born in 1939 to in Jordan. He started his career as an army soldier. The way this career started was when he was 18 years old, and doing great at school. Sometime in late fifties, the Jordanian army opened the door for recruits to join the military college. My dad rushed to the center, but it was too late as they closed the gates on any new candidates. Being a persistent teenager, he jumped over the fence, and eventually, was caught by the military police. They were to kick him out of the center, but he was making lots of noises, and refused to leave. He was beaten, and was pushed toward the gate. He then demanded to see the king. Of course, they laughed at him, and thought he was a crazy teenager. He kept screaming and demanding to see the king. Suddenly, the head of the camp heard this noise and came out to see what was going on. He asked my dad “and why do you want to see the king”. His answer was that he wanted to complain that those soldiers are preventing him from doing his duty. After few laughs from the soldiers, they allowed him to pursue the testing station, after explaining to him that king doesn’t live in the camp. Ultimately, he passed the tests, and proved to be a very good candidate.
He started the ranks in the military college in Jordan. He graduated there, and finished his masters, and was assigned to teach there. He was amongst the first year graduates from the college, and was sent to Egypt and then a year in sand hurst in England. Trips to Pakistan, Oman, and France then followed in the next 2 years. Then he met my mom (his cousin) and decided to start a family. Of course back then, it was different. My mom was only 16 when she married my father, who was 29 years old at that time.
Having a dad who spent all his career in the army gives you a first look witness account of what happened in Jordan in that troubled era. In the 1967 war, he was stationed in Nablus, and the orders came to withdraw as fast as possible. My mom was always making fun of my dad that he is being faster during withdrawal, than offensive move. So, he was a platoon leader there. His platoon was composed of around 30 tanks and vehicles. My dad decided to sit on top of the first tank since he knew the area very well, and wanted to speed up the withdrawal to protect his soldiers. The officers asked him to join him in their vehicle, but he declined. The column was withdrawing fast in a narrow route between Nablus and the bridge. Then suddenly, the israeli’s spotted the retreating column and pinned it down. They first shot the leading vehicle, to block the route for the remaining ones. The tank was hit directly, and my father flew off the tank, semi-unconscious. He laid there motionless, and in shock. The israeli’s then hit the last vehicle in the column, to pin all remaining vehicles in between. Then, they started killing Jordanian soldiers with machine guns and tank shells. It’s a little disturbing to see your soldiers die one after one, screaming for names of fellow comrades, and trying to fight back.. The driver of my dad’s regular vehicle was taking cover. He was a Christian Jordanian who knew dad very well of course. He saw my dad laying in blood, so he tried to rush to him. My dad waived to him not to do that and keep under cover. The driver refused, and rushed to my dad, who was lying by a tree, to help him out of the field. Then my dad saw a direct bullet hit the driver. This was very disturbing to my dad for he loved this guy so much.
At any rate, the israeli’s managed to kill all, more than 110 soldiers, but only two remained alive. Few Palestinian farmers saw what happened and after the battle was over, they came to help all who needed help. They spotted two alive soldiers, injured, and they hid them from the israeli’s. The news traveled to Jordan, and my mom was told that her husband-to-be was killed in action. My uncle worked in the medics for the army, and he confirmed that the whole battalion was destroyed. The Palestinian farmers managed to sneak the two soldiers back to Jordan, and again, my uncle drove home as fast as possible and said to the family “the son of the……is still alive”. Suddenly, sadness turned into happiness in a time where all news were very sad. This story is well documented amongst those who served in the Jordanian army, and amongst who served in 1967, so if you know one that served in 1967, ask him about that specific battalion, and share your sadness for the fallen heroes of that war.
In late 1968, the battle of karaama happened. My dad was stationed near “salt” city. The news came from the bridge that the israeli’s are gathering. The orders were “stay in positions”. The Israeli army moved in, and 12 jordanian soldiers were massacred. The Israeli troops circled around to meet by a valley near salt city. There was a Jordanian group of soldiers (around 20) on a hill, and they too got massacred. Till today, on that hill, there is a grave for one of the greatest heroes in that war. I can’t remember his name, but the grave is well marked. The Jordanian army communicated to the PLO fightrers that the israeli’s are advancing very fast toward their positions. They withdrew to karamah, and here, luck plays a favorable side with the PLO fighters. During their retreat to a specific area, there was an Israeli unit that was airborne to that same spot, by accident. The fighters hammered the unit, and killed most of it’s soldiers. The Jordanian artillery, where my father was stationed, decided to take action. They hammered the Israeli units who were gathering near salt city, and they pinned them very hard. Lots of heroic stories in that day. The israeli’s didn’t know what to do, and they too started retreating to the bridge. But the Jordanian artillery never stopped the pressure, and the israeli’s lost a lot of lives then. The orders came from amman to not to give up the fight, now the army commanders saw the taste of victory. The PLO fighters were then hammered by the israeli’s, and the Jordanian artillery intervened and lifted the pressure off of the PLO. In the end, the heroic decisions of the small units commanders were the decisive reason for such sweet victory. True that the leadership of the army was slow in reacting to the great advances of the Jordanian army, but in the end, all were in the same page.
Then came the 1970’s era. The PLO fighters were stationed everywhere in amman. Some atrocities were committed near salt city and “ajloun” by the fighters. Many disturbances were reported. That led to the late king Hussain, to issue his famous 10 points peace plan with the fighters. That fell apart too. The Jordanian soldiers, including my dad, hung bra’s on the guns of their tanks and artillery machines. That was a sig of distress within the army units. There was a fear within the army of a civil war inside the army itself. The army leadership demanded from the late king to put a stop to this, before the army splits into 2, and hell break loos,e in a nice way of course. I can’t remember, but was told that in 1970, my dad would come home bleeding where he just passed a security check point that belonged to the PFLP. They beat him up, made him undress of his army uniform, and urinated on it. He was a high ranking officer in the army, and a liked scholar at the military college back then. Heck, just before that incident, he graduated a man named “Muhammad saeed elbaady” from the UAE, who few years later became the commander of the armed forces in the UAE. During the same period, the Pakistani president, “daya alhaq” was also studying on the hands of my dad, before he became the Pakistani president.
The Jordanian army decided to move in, and they moved in swiftly against positions of the PLO fighters. When they retreated to “jarash”, my dad was the head of the artillery unit there, and was partnered with a man from the tribe of ‘alrousan” and another man from the sharkas ethnicity. Again, they received news that 3 farmers were massacred in their farm in the road leading from amman to jarash, by the PLO fighters. The orders then came to pursue the PLO fighters, and in jarash, the artillery units hit hard. In one interesting incident during the Jarash battle, there was a group of Jordanian civilians of Bani hasan (if I remember correctly) who were angered by the killing of the farmers, and they decided to move to jarash not knowing whats going on. The artillery shells fell on that group too. It was an ugly war fueled by anger and by the desire to capture on the opportunity and hit the PLO before they could regroup. In addition, news from the north were not good where they spotted Syrian tanks crossing the borders to irbid and ramtha, so the Jordanian army needed a win to increase the moral of the soldiers and continue pressure.
After the war ended, my dad retreated back to his house in zarqa. Few weeks later, 3 PLO fighters were hiding, and as soon as they saw my dad’s car pull in, they started shooting. The driver of the car was killed, and my dad escaped toward the house to get his rifle, not depending only on his gun. The PLO fighters pursued him, and they got a hold of him. As they demanded that he kneels on his knees so they can shoot him in the head, my mom was crying begging the fighters to let him live. I was 3 years old then, and can’t remember a thing. Luckily, one of the PLO fighters paused a little and demanded that they throw my mom and me into a room and not to let us watch them kill my father. A Jordanian soldiers was watching whats happening from the rooftop of a close by house. He must have called for help from any soldier who was nearby. Bullets started hitting our house, and they managed to shoot one of the fighters, and my dad quickly rushed to his gun and started shooting, inside the house. The remaining two fighters were killed, and until today, a bullet scar in my dad’s left foot, as well the bullet ridilled home is still a witness and a reminder for my dad. He refused to rent the home out, and refused to cover the bullet holes.
In 1974, Muhammad saedd albaady phoned my dad and offered him to come to the UAE and train the artillery. He followed that option, and went to the UAE. Well known officers like “ereikaat” and “ka’abneh” followed a year later. That’s when my life in the UAE started. Again, he was in the armed forces, and he was the second in command in the UAE artillery forces, after “Muhammad sa’eed suhail”. We lived in the city of al-ain, naturally, because that’s where the armed forces camps are located by the mountain of hefeet.
Looking back at the circumstances where I grew made me wonder. I grew up away from my father, or in fact, he lived away from us. I got to spend time with him only in the UAE away from the pressure of wars and civil disturbances. He was a tough man, and I think still is. Tough enough that I am not daring to smoke cigarettes in front of him, now that I’m 37 years old.
My mom was born in 1951, and she was my dad’s cousin. Her mother was a Lebanese. Somehow, her father and mother got to know each others, and decided to marry. By the age of 16, she married my father. This was common, to have a 29 years old man marrying a 16 years old girl. At the age of 18, she gave birth to me, and was forced to live in an era where she had to grow fast and adapt to the situation quickly. Stories like how she walked 4 KM from our home toward an army camp in zarqa city to get water during the civil war. I may not have lots of stories about mom to share, but I’ll try and list some.
She was a quiet woman who was heavily dependent on my father for leading the ship. She is a sweet, and very forgiving. Although back in her times, she was dragged to the mini skirt and the funky looking hair style, but she managed to become more conservative down the road. As usual, she had to breast feed me, and I seem not to have enough. I was jumping on every woman who visited us to feed, and that embarrassed my mom. She was tiny, and didn’t have enough milk, I guess. So I had to look for other “sources”, and my guess, is that I can not marry any girl who grew in our street, for chances are she is my sister via nursing.
Just like my father, she was also a sharp shooter. He was good with guns, and she was good with shoes. I was a bad boy in my early age, and mothers had only one weapon, the shoe they wear. So I remember that I did something bad one day, and ran away from mom. There is a stair that leads from the house down to the street. I was running, and looking back at mom, who was holding her shoe, and she looked like as an army engineer calculating the wind speed and the angle. Suddenly, I saw the shoe flies from her hand, I looked forward and ran faster, but was hit with a direct hit on my head. I was probably 5 years old then. Ouch, it was a painful one.
One time, I stole my dad’s gun, and was chasing my little sister. I was six, and she was 2. I pulled on the trigger so hard, but the gun just didn’t go off. My dad’s gun never had a safety on, because of the era of that time. My mom saw this, and she quickly jumped on me, and put the gun away. All I could remember that day are two things: one is that my sister was lucky that day, and two is that I was beaten so bad that I think I have witnessed all means of torture that the british army left in Jordan. Thinking about gives me the chills now.
Since I love food, which is not a surprise by now, I used to hang around my mother in the kitchen. I learned how to cook at an early age, and became my brothers and sisters “keeper”. Every school morning, I would get up, make milk, and tea, then make breakfast for my brothers and sisters, before they get up to school. The dinner was always made by my mom and I together. One time I really cried so hard, is when I left to the USA, and my mom told me that since my departure, my brothers and sisters are not eating breakfast, in the same fun way when I was there. I missed those days. Oh well, time moves fast anyway.
In times where we anger our dad, and he starts yelling on us, or physically beating us, she would stand in the middle, and she gets beaten too, and my dad demands that she moves, and she refuses at all, absorbing all the beating. But back then, married couples easily get over such incidents and they start smiling together as if nothing happened.
Making my happy was very easy. All she wanted are good grades for us, and to see us building our own lives. Yet, small things seem to leave good impressions on her face. I one time bought her a cheap ring, was about 20 dollars, and in my first year in the states. I sent it to her with a friend, and until today, that’s her favorite ring. She knows it’s cheap, but she loved anything that her kids buy her.
She is a simple woman, who, at her age, doesn’t know lots of things out there. It’s funny to hear both my parents talk about politics, especially concerning the Palestinian issue. She feels that Hamas is the long waited salaheddin, and of course my dad thinks any PLO or Palestinian leadership, are different faces for the same coin, and that all are corrupt and a curse on the Palestinian people. Or when my dad gets in the kitchen and my moms begs him to get out. Oh well, age does get to you after a while.
Crazy & random thoughts
8 years ago