Winner of the prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Medal, this fierce and moving work is an unparalleled rendering of the human aspects of the Palestinian predicament.
Barred from his homeland after 1967’s Six-Day War, the poet Mourid Barghouti spent thirty years in exile—shuttling among the world’s cities, yet secure in none of them; separated from his family for years at a time; never certain whether he was a visitor, a refugee, a citizen, or a guest. As he returns home for the first time since the Israeli occupation, Barghouti crosses a wooden bridge over the Jordan River into Ramallah and is unable to recognize the city of his youth. Sifting through memories of the old Palestine as they come up against what he now encounters in this mere “idea of Palestine,” he discovers what it means to be deprived not only of a homeland but of “the habitual place and status of a person.” A tour de force of memory and reflection, lamentation and resilience, I Saw Ramallah is a deeply humane book, essential to any balanced understanding of today’s Middle East.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: I Saw Ramallah|
|Release Date: 12-10-2008|
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|Parent title||I Saw Ramallah|
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I Saw Ramallah
It is very hot on the bridge. A drop of sweat slides from my I forehead down to the frame of my spectacles, then the lens. A mist envelops what I see, what I expect, what I remember. The view here shimmers with scenes that span a lifetime; a lifetime spent trying to get here. Here I am, crossing the Jordan River. I hear the creak of the wood under my feet. On my left shoulder a small bag. I walk westward in a normal manner-or rather, a manner that appears normal. Behind me the world, ahead of me my world.
The last thing I remember of this bridge is that I crossed it on my way from Ramallah to Amman thirty years ago. From Amman I went to Cairo and back to college. I was in my fourth and final year at Cairo University.
The moming of June 5,1967: the Latin exam. Only a few left to go: Latin, then two days later 'the Novel,' then 'Drama.' And then I would have kept my promise to Mounif and fulfilled my mother's wish to see one of her sons a college graduate. The previous exams-History of European Civilization, Poetry, Literary Criticism, and Translation-had gone by with no surprises. Nearly there. After the results come out I shall go back to Amman, and from there-across this same bridge-to Ramallah, where I learn from my parents' letters that they have started to decorate our apartment in al-Liftawi's building in preparation for my return with the Certificate.
It is very hot in the examination hall. A drop of sweat slides down my brow to the frame of my spectacles. It stops, then slides down the lens, and from there to the Latin words in the exam paper: altus, alta, altum-but what is this noise outside? Explosions? Are these the maneuvers o