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Keys & the Right of Return

The key is a widely used symbol of the Nakba, as many Palestinians kept the keys to their homes when they were forced into exile in 1948. In Waiting for the Return, Ahmed depicts the Palestinian refugees’ limbo of waiting for their right of return to their homes. However, not all refugees are working hard to achieve this return. The cigarette symbolizes the distracted and lost refugee, while the rosary represents their flailing hope. Waiting for the Return questions the role of the Palestinian refugee in their self-determination and the absence of taking part in any peace negotiations. This self-criticism can be viewed positively or negatively, as the act of waiting can be a valuable moment of reflection and constructive contemplation of future action. The hands symbolize the inherent relationship between Palestinians and the land that they cultivate and nurture. As the land is lost, so is the Palestinian. Yet the key still waits.