Seeking Time, in Space (Scenes from my Life)
05 – 01 – 2008
in Masharef, Haifa
Translation Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Perhaps this is the attempt of a man filled with longing, a man far from his home yet filled with hope, an exile given over to waiting, an artist in flight, a pursuer of passion and a seeker of youth—an attempt at returning to ancient ruins, at recovering those forgotten scenes that have, with the passing of time, become rarer and more precious than the present.
Perhaps this is an attempt at uncovering something hidden and dormant, at laying bare a time that has almost vanished. Perhaps these ancient scenes and places will allow us to mend the fabric of that which has been forgotten; perhaps, by summoning the features of space, we can succeed in bringing forth those of time as well. Perhaps.
“A Little Bird Told Me!”
In my childhood, birds were a source of great irritation to me… I had gotten myself into trouble at school one day, and when I returned home my mother was waiting for me at the door with all the details of my mischief. I was taken completely by surprise, and asked her: “How did you know? Who told you?” She answered: “A little bird told me!” She finished by telling me that she would not divulge the punishment for my behaviour, and then postponed this punishment for an indefinite period of time. I did not realise at the time that the mere thought of the unknown punishment would reign over me for so long and would, in itself, suffice to deter any future attempts at mischief—or to force me (at the very least) to try to hide my actions from the birds.
I now hated the birds that I had once loved so much. I used to dream of soaring through the sky like them and seeing the world from up on high; of flying to school as quick as lightning whenever I woke up late; and of perching on one of the school benches among my mates in order to study.
We used to live on the second floor, and the only tree on our long street was a single camphor tree in front of our house. After this incident with my mother, I began to stare angrily at the spying birds in the tree as they chirped to each other about the neighbourhood’s happenings and flew off to tell parents about the mischief of their children. I also began to glance up into the trees at school during every quarrel with my mates—I always did my best to check my anger, fearing that the enemy birds would divulge my actions to my family.
At home I used to shut the window that faced the top of the camphor tree to prevent the birds from spying on me. I even nervously chased off each bird that settled on the rail of our balcony: “Go away, you dog!”, I yelled, even though I was very fond of dogs.
MASHAREF is a literary magazine published in Haifa, founded by the late novelist Emile Habiby. Until 1996 the magazine was edited by Habiby together with Siham Daoud who is the chief editor since that time. The magazine focuses on the publication of poetry, essays and theoretical texts on literature and culture. The culture of language is carried on by stimulating new forms of use. Masharef plays an important role as a journal for an exchange of ideas. The editorial work emphasizes the transformative and imaginative potential of language, with each text showing how different ways of thinking are explored in poetry and literature. This way artistic knowledge is revealed in the use of language, showing how the materialization of an idea interacts with its medium.