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The 6 Day War
by Waheed Khalayleh

My memories of kindergarten days back in 1967 are still vivid in my mind. A two room white-stone building was rented to accommodate the kindergarten classes. It was about half a mile away from the rest of the elementary school. On the inside, the rooms were decorated with two strings of colored papers, which were hung diagonally over our heads. The small wooden chairs and the low square tables were lined in single rows, one child to a table. Poster size pictures of the alphabet, cars, crosswalks, policemen, doctors, and words of wisdom that we couldn’t read or relate to covered the walls of both classrooms.

There was an outdoor bathroom that belonged to the landlord, who lived next door. Only the teachers were allowed to use it. The rest of us just took a walk behind the building and looked for a clean spot between the bushes in the open field. In those days it was acceptable for the little ones to do their business out in the open. A page or two of any newspaper, regardless in what language it was printed-Turkish, English, Hebrew or Arabic-would do the job of wiping. And if newspapers were not in our immediate reach, a few smooth, rounded stones would be sufficient. This was not during the Stone Age. This was only thirty-three years ago, when Israel was already established for nineteen years on the land of Palestine. I am sure the Jewish kindergarten schools must have had toilet papers, and probably in different colors. The Palestinians, however, who were called the Israeli-Arabs, had plenty of stones in theft fields, so they managed.

Stones came in handy in many different ways for Palestinians, both at war and at peace. It has been since the battle of David and Goliath that we have learned to value stones-even the smallest of them. Stones were and still are used as weapons in battles to settle conflicts until this very moment. As children, we had many games that involved stones. One game was called the “Seven Stones.” It is a game where we piled seven flat stones in a tower. One team would take the ball and stand behind a line about fifteen feet away. The players of that team then took turns throwing the ball at the stone tower. Once the stones were knocked down, the defending team would get the ball and starts the chase. Their objective was to hit their opponents with the ball before the opponents rebuilt the tower. A mother game I played a lot was called the “Rolling Ball”. This was a torturous game. The losing team would line up facing a wall, if there was one, and the winning team would stand behind them, about thirty to forty feet away, and strike at them with a tennis ball. The losers were only allowed to cover their heads with their hands. This was a war scene, and there was nothing fun about getting a fastball crashing against one’s ribs, but we used to laugh. Once in a while a boy would collapse from a curved ball aimed at his kidneys, but this would not deter him from going on after he felt better.

A dusty yard stretched in front of the white stone building. The two classes shared the yard for play. The teacher used to splash water so we wouldn’t kick too much dust into the air. I remember very well this kindergarten day, early in June 1967. We were playing a game we called the Cat and the Mouse, a game that we played almost every day. The class would squat in a big circle as cats. We would chant a song while someone playing a mouse would circle the eats holding a hat. Once the mouse dropped the hat on one of the cats, the cat would chase the mouse and try to catch it before it stole the vacant spot. If the cat failed, then it would turn into a mouse and begin to circle around.

We had just started the game when war airplanes started to thunder over our heads. They would disappear so fast, but theft loud noise would stay with us much longer. We began to sing louder and louder while we covered our ears with our little hands. But it got to the point where a new plane’s thunder would start to approach before the previous one would completely disappear. Some kids began to cry. The game was disrupted, and the teacher ordered us back into the classroom. In less than ten minutes, parents started to appear at the classroom door to take their kids home. My father was at work, and my mother was watching over my three younger sisters. One of my uncles came to pick me up. I was among the last ones to leave the classroom. I was not scared. All the schools were closed for six days, until a cease-fire went into effect. At that age, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what was going on, but what I really missed was my game at the school. Once the “Six Days War” was over, we went back to play more of the “Cat and the Mouse.”



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