"Believe me! I’ve done things a man can’t do!"

Nada Mansoor

Location: Jaffa Road, Tira

Residence: Tira

Age: 33

The encounter: While grocery shopping in Tira, I approached several women for interviews. They were happy to talk, but none wanted to be photographed. “I’m not pretty enough,” “I’m too modest,” “My husband won’t like it” – they all had reasons for shying away from my camera. When I finally approached Nada, who sat outside her store talking with some men, she surprised me by agreeing immediately. “Why not?” she said.
The men on the porch kept interrupting the interview with jokes and innuendos. When I asked Nada about her family, an older man, a cook from the neighboring restaurant, saw an opportunity for flirting and declared that he wanted to marry Nada, or at least make a baby with her. She dismissed him with a smile and a wave of her hand: “I’ll never marry again. And certainly not you!”

What are you doing here right now?
There’s nobody at the store. I’m waiting for customers. This is my sister’s shop. I work here every day.

How do you describe your religious or national identity?
I’m a Muslim –  here in Tira we are all Muslims. And I’m an Arab Palestinian – that’s the truth – and I have Israeli citizenship because I was born here.

Can you tell me a bit about your family? 
I am divorced and I have a 17-year-old son. He’s in school now. I got married when I was fifteen and divorced when I was eighteen. The father of my son was eighteen when we married. We had a friendly separation. We didn’t argue; we just thought differently about life. We went to a lawyer and divorced quietly. He is now married again and has four kids. When we see each other in the street, we stop to say hi.
Not everyone understands how hard it is to be a divorced woman with a son. They look at me and think I’m bad. They don’t understand that a divorced woman is stronger than a woman with a husband. Believe me! I’ve done things that a man can’t do! I have raised a son all by myself and he turned out really something! He wants to become a dentist. After high school, he plans to study in Ukraine.

Where is your family from?
My mom is from Taibe; my dad from Tira. I have six sisters and two brothers. They all live here in Tira.

What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I hope there will be peace. I have a good feeling about it... I can feel that it'll happen. But for myself: In twenty years I’ll still be here, exactly the same, no change. There’s nothing I can do about it. Life is hard. We work, work, work:  for our children,  to survive, to eat... but to really make something of your life is hard.