Mourid Barghouti, I Saw Ramallah.

An extract from one of my 10 favourite books ever.

I am reading an old blog of mine.  I can't help wanting to bring these things forward from 2005 ... 2006, just so I don't lose them again.

For an exile, the habitual place and status of a person is lost.

One who is known becomes anonymous, one who is generous has to watch what he spends, one who is merry gazes in silence.

The fortunate ones are looked upon with suspicion, and envy becomes the profession of those who have no profession except watching others.

Europe, where I lived for years, was full of them, from all the Arab countries. Each one had a story I cannot record, perhaps nobody can record.

The calm of the place of exile and its wish-for safety is never completely realized. The homeland does not leave the body until the last moment, the moment of death.

The fish
Even in the fisherman's net,
Still carries

The smell of the sea.
Mourid Barghouti from, I Saw Ramallah.

Books Read Recently

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

All Kinds of Magic - A Quest for Meaning in a Material World, by Piers Ede Moore.  I also loved his first book, Honey and Dust, found after I had finished the first but entirely enjoyable in this wrong order too.

The Places In Between, by Rory Stewart.  Loved it, and it reminded me of a favourite book that I’ve carried with me since forever, William Dalrymple’s, In Xanadu - a Quest.

I love books where people set out walking, across countries.  The first 4 probably make this quite clear so I’ll move away from mentioning Cees Nooteboom and Ryszard Kapuscinski

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa, blew me away and left me exhausted at the end.  Beautifully written.  Actually, it reminded me of another old favourite, I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti.  Mourid is a poet who wrote his story in the most beautiful prose.  His second book has just come out.  I must find it. 

One of his poems appear on page 100 of my copy of the book.  I have never been able to forget this poem he wrote about his mother:
She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where the paths are crowded with people running to their rooms
And where the beds in the morning are chaos
And the pillows wake up crumpled,
Their cotton stuffing dipping in the middle.
She wants washing lines full and much, much rice to cook for lunch
And a large, large kettle boiling on a fire in the afternoon
And the table for everyone in the evening, its tablecloth dripping with sesame of chatter.
She wants the smell of garlic at noon to gather the absent ones
And is surprised that the mother’s stew is weaker than the power of governments and that her pastry in the evening
Dries on a sheet untouched by any hand.
Can the earth contain
The cruelty of a mother making her coffee alone
On a Diaspora morning?
She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where all directions lead to the harbour of the bosom,
The gulf of two arms
That receive and know no farewells.
She wants airplanes to come back only.
Airports to be for those returning,
The planes to land and never leave again

I discovered Yasmina Reza’s book, A Year with Nicolas Sarkozy, and enjoyed it immensely.

But enough of books and me.  As I have worked here tonight, Gert has been discovering just how easy Squarespace is to work in ... this as he creates my new website.  It’s all rather exciting, almost as exciting as moving countries.