Between Ritta and my eyes..

Since I was listening to Mahmoud Darwish, somebody who knows very well about the meaning of the daily tragedy in the Israelian-Palestianian question, this poetry of his came to my mind (it is also a very famous song sung by Marcel Khelifa). He tells about the story of Ritta, a Jewish girl he was in love with..Between them, there has always been a gun (“Bayna Ritta wa aouyouni boundoukiyya“)


Between Rita and my eyes
There is a rifle
And whoever knows Rita
Kneels and pray
To the divinity in those honey-colored eyes

And I kissed Rita
When she was young
And I remember how she approached
And how my arm covered the loveliest of braids
And I remember Rita
The way a sparrow remembers its stream
Ah, Rita
Between us there are a million sparrows and images
And many a rendezvous
Fired at by a rifle

Rita’s name was a feast in my mouth
Rita’s body was a wedding in my blood
And I was lost in Rita for two years
And for two years she slept on my arm
And we made promises
Over the most beautiful of cups
And we burned in the wine of our lips
And we were born again

Ah, Rita!
What before this rifle could have turned my eyes from yours
Except a nap or two or honey-colored clouds?
Once upon a time
Oh, the silence of dusk
In the morning my moon migrated to a far place
Towards those honey-colored eyes
And the city swept away all the singers
And Rita

Between Rita and my eyes–
A rifle

Listening to the radio on the taxi Amman-Sham

On the way back from Amman to Sham, the taxi driver is listening to a local radio (don’t know if it comes from Jordan, Syria or Palestine). It could be as  any commercial radio station in the world. There is a live music program, broadcasting pop music, people call in to ask for a particular song or to make a wish, the presenter interacts with them, then puts the music on.  But this time the songs are all national songs, resistance songs, and the listeners are calling up to wish the liberation of Gaza, or to blame Israelis for the attacks, or just to talk about the children of Palestine, killed or injured. The feelings of the so-called “Arab street” are the same, all across the Region, whether it is Jordan, or Syria, or Lebanon. The anger is high.

Another radio program has just been broadcasting poems from the world famous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (some of them can be listed from his own voice at the website, some of them are sung by the lebanese singer Marcel Khalife.

One of his most famous poems is now being sung by a voice that I can’t recognize, but I can recognize very clearly the words, which say, more or less (the english translation can’t give the idea of how much these words sound powerful in the arabic language, “Sajjal, ana arabi…“):

Identity Card

Record !

I am an Arab

And my identity card is number fifty thousand

I have eight children

And the nineth is coming after a summer

Will you be angry?

Record !

I am an Arab

Employed with fellow workers at a quarry

I have eight children

I get them bread

Garments and books

from the rocks…

I do not supplicate charity at your doors

Nor do I belittle myself

at the footsteps of your chamber

So will you be angry?

Record !

I am an Arab

I have a name without a title

Patient in a country

Where people are enraged

My roots

Were entrenched before the birth of time

And before the opening of the eras

Before the pines, and the olive trees

And before the grass grew.

My father..

descends from the family of the plow

Not from a privileged class

And my grandfather..was a farmer

Neither well-bred, nor well-born!

Teaches me the pride of the sun

Before teaching me how to read

And my house

is like a watchman’s hut

Made of branches and cane

Are you satisfied with my status?

I have a name without a title !

Record !

I am an Arab

You have stolen the orchards

of my ancestors

And the land

which I cultivated

Along with my children

And you left nothing for us

Except for these rocks..

So will the State take them

As it has been said?!

Therefore !

Record on the top of the first page:

I do not hate people

Nor do I encroach

But if I become hungry

The usurper’s flesh will be my food



Of my hunger

And my anger !