Mourid Barghouti is a Palestine poet and writer ,he has lived in Egypt ,Kuwait and Bulgaria ,he has published numerous volumes of poetry in arabic ,I saw Ramallah is his autobiographical narrative of his return to Palestine after nearly thirties years .He is married to the Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour ,they have a son ,they lived apart after Mourid was expelled from Egypt in the seventies and spent most of seventeen years apart .

The book opens with Mourid nervously crossing the bridge in to Palestine and his homeland of Ramallah ,he is due to give a speech at his town ,there is an opening of a new culture centre .

I said once to a friend “when Palestine is no longer a chain worn with an evening dress ,an ornament or a memory or a golden Qur’an ,when we walk on Palestine dust ,and wipe it off our shirts collars and off our shoes ,hurrying to conduct our daily affairs – our passing ,normal ,boring affairs -when we grumble about the heat  in Palestine and the dullness of staying there to long ,then we will really have come close too it ”

a passage from early in the book .

As you can see Mourid words are poetic at time the narrative wonders forward and back in time from the present his worries at returning to Palestine  after such a time ,this heigtens on the second or so day when he returns to his home town of Deir Ghassanah ,after a long absent he remembers that every house used to have a special name in his youth ,the family and how the married with in the town ,elsewhere he recounts the passing of thirty years as an exile and in some ways a nomad .He has never felt settle ,after being forcibly removed from Egypt ,spend time in Budapest as a PLO representative .he comes to Deir Ghassanah     ,and the memories flood back ,he gets nervous about giving the speech to open the  culture centre to his peers and family members .

This book is one of the most powerful pieces I ve read Mourid life is laid bare ,his poetic tones hid great sadness at points ,the feeling of never belonging after losing your homeland for thirty years ,but on his return it feels vastly different the restrictions and the change in his beautiful homeland shock him .I leave this review with his own closing words which seem very fitting .

What deprives the spirit of colours ?

What is it other than the bullets of the invaders that have hit the body ?

good questions indeed .

October 2010


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