As he slipped his forefinger from under his square glasses down his own cheek, the most renowned and great Palestinian poet Tamim Al-Barghouti carried on narrating his brilliant poem ‘Your Love’ which opens up with the lines that follow:
Your love is like a bird that landed on my shoulders
As if it were a gift from nowhere…
It blesses me, and I watch myself so that I won’t scare it.
I want it to stay there – on my shoulders –
God knows how much it flew until it reached me
And along the way how many times it escaped demise…
This, however, is never about how to love, but rather its ultimate lesson is how to live in a region the poet himself has never been to and perhaps has never imagined. He gave the lesson but probably never knew there are people who are desperately in need for his lesson. The place where his words “To live an ordinary life nowadays: that is something extraordinary” do make sense to those who live, or love, here.
This place is indubitably cursed by those who inhabit it, but still they do love it. An elderly man, grabbing his walking stick curses every passing moment he spends in the dark; he curses every passing boy who, being pursuit by others playmates, accidently hit him; waving his walking stick, he curses the boy, his father, his grandfather and up to the greatest grandfather in his lineage. He curses every passing car, every passing girl, and every crying baby. And as he sits at the threshold, he blesses himself.
Gaza is this place, certainly.
What an image others would draw of a people who are living in a region which has testified the murder of tens of thousands of people since the first Zionist troop stepped on this land, of a people who have developed a habit of recognizing the smell of blood from a distance and who have become capable of identifying the exact location of the area targeted by nothing more than the limited capacity of their ears?
The only thing I’m certain of is that those people are not like others. Well, to make it clearer, they are not like other people from Lebanon, from Syria, Algeria, not to say Britain, Italy and elsewhere. They are different…and the question whether they are better or worse is not an issue to me. It is not. They are less fortunate.
For those people, to have something good to eat, some comfortable bed to sleep in, and an access to the internet, no matter how weak it is, this will make something more than a good life.
My case, in fact, is different: I am asking for something that is more than ordinary.
“She is turning eighteen— this weekend. She lives in the cold darkness of Britain, and I live in the moderate, shining, besieged Gaza. I’ve never met her in my life, and she barely knows who I am. Shortly there is no chance we can meet in the near future.”
This is madness, indeed, but still I do cling to my hope: to the bird that landed on my shoulder as if it were a gift from no where.