Broken floor tiles

I live in the middle of History, and even though South Israel’s fields shine with that very same gleam that fresh sprouted crops have, the Earth still keeps ancient secrets. Some weeks ago, we went for a walk with the kids, we wanted to see ducks in a wild lagoon just in between farming fields, and we found broken floor tiles. They were old, but not that old. I thought they could be an archaeological find, but my husband took me back to the truth: they couldn’t be very old, they were just lying on the ground as cracked layers, as granite pieces. A broken history on a thick lake’s bank. Years ago, 60 or even more, there was a small Arab village in this area. The oldest man from our Kibbutz tells us that the neighbours of that village got scared and run away afterwards Israel was founded as a country. However, the broken floor tiles seem willing to yell, that the exodus was not really peaceful.

Nobody hears here anymore the voices of Burayr, that devastated village. Some elderly just repeat the official version, convinced by the power of being able to back it up with bibliographic quotations. A few just talk, ashamed, about a vague trip of 5 men, with rifles, in fact young boys scared to death. The new Israeli historians state that the inhabitants of that village were undoubtedly expelled with violence. The broken floor tiles that we found in our country walk seem to corroborate that. But the story of the young men scared to death is there, too.

I read in Wikipedia that the village was Israeli and its name, then, was Beror Hayil. Afterwards, changed its name and owners: Burayr, Buriron and once again, Beror Hayil. Each one of those changes meant a conflict, with their own broken floor tiles. I believe in Wikipedia as much as I believe in History: knowing that facts are shifting, built up, altered. History is just a play dough that everyone shapes into their own wishes. A millennial Wikipedia, always re-written from the winners. The same winners that were before defeated. The same defeated that will be victorious.

If something can be learned from hackneyed history, is: everything that is today a certainty tomorrow will become a deep lake, doubtful and surrounded by a trail of violence. I ask myself shivering, if this kibbutz will keep changing its name. May a family in their weekend walk ever find these houses’ floor tiles?

Translation: Ralph del Valle

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