“I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Al Barghouti

It’s pitch black. I am in my room, alone. Touching through my stuff searching for my book-light, trying to remember where i last put it and after hitting and touching everything in my room but it, i finally found it . I lit it then pinned it to the book I was about to read. Now all I can see is the book I’m holding in my hands. Armed with a marker, a pencil and my favorite tea mug, I started reading the Arabic version of “I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Al Barghouti.

Once I started reading Edward Said’s forward to the book, I was emotionally and mentally engaged. My eyes were racing my silent reading lips, eager to reach the next line and read more about the book. When it was finished I pondered for a second thinking how could I have spent all this time not reading this book?

I started reading the first chapter….

A profound sense of transcendentalism merged me with the lines. I was not in my room, the electricity was not off, but I was alone. It was just me, me and the author Mourdi Al Barghouti. Yes, Mourid Al Barghouti was with me. He did not see me, but I indeed saw him. Now he’s on “the bridge” I can see him, the vision is a bit blurry but I see him. He’s now walking briskly towards “the Palestinian” end of the bridge. His heart is beating, so is mine. He crossed the bridge, so did I. Now we are in a room. I’m looking about me and all I’m seeing is what he’s seeing. His eyes were mine. For a fraction of a second I really did feel that I was there. Everywhere he goes. I was not a mere reader reading a book. I was a character in the book, watching everything silently from far beyond except, I was “omniscient.” I was the only one able to see through the authors mind.

Now we are in Ramallah. A mixture of emotions. I have never been to Ramallah so I was looking so much forward to reaching the part where he goes there so I could form a picture of it in my mind. I did form a picture. But not the one I thought I would have. He talked of settlements and soldiers and endless checkpoints and Israeli flags everywhere. He was disappointed. And I was even more.

Once he reached his village “Deir Ghassaneh” in Ramallah and then his home there “Dar Ra’ad”  I formed a replicate of everything in my mind. I was able to see Dar Ra’ad, I saw the rooms, the furniture, the trees (especially the fig tree) I even met the people. His family, his friends, his relatives, his neighbors. It was beautiful.

I cried so much, I smiled/laughed so often and I was embittered so many a times. I am not a refugee, but for a fraction of a second I was one. Or even, I wished I were one.

I read a good number of books which some I described to my friends as “a page turner.” I guess I never knew the real meaning of  it till I read “I Saw Ramallah.” 

After reading this book, I can say that this book changed me. I’m not the same person I was. I don’t know how to explain it. But I have changed.

I slept thinking of the book, that I actually dreamt that I went to Ramallah and then to Jerusalem. In my dream I was in a bus with approximately 50 people, all heading to Ramallah and Jerusalem. They were all strangers to me. And they even seemed strangers to each other! but that did not stop them from talking to each other exchanging laughter. All I saw was old buildings and cars and lots and lots of people. Suddenly, I saw the Dome of the Rock from far away but the bus did not go its way. My eyes were fixed on the Dome of the Rock the second it appeared. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to enter. A voice shouted “people we are not allowed to enter Jerusalem.”

 Ironic right? To not be able to enter your own Capital city even in your dreams! My dreams are rebelling against me. But why? Our dreams always makes our dreams come true. They take us where we really want to go but can’t and have us meet and converse with people we die to “see”. Our dreams sometimes inspire us to write, to solve problems or even to stand up to someone or something. But again, why? Is it because I’m a Palestinian so I am bound to “Not Be Allowed” to enter Jerusalem even in my dreams? My dreams are rebelling against me and I shall rebel against them. I will keep on dreaming. And one day, just one magical day… it should happen but in this “one day” it won’t be a single bus carrying 50 people…


5 responses to ““I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Al Barghouti

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