Men in the Sun 4

February 21, 2008

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The people seated exchanged glances and then settled their gazes on the headman, who felt he must say something, so he pressed out without thinking, “So what do you know then?
It seemed as though Professor Saleem had been expecting a question such as this, but he replied quickly while getting up, “Many things. How to shoot, for example.” He got to the door and turned around. His gaunt face was shaking. “If you are attacked, wake me up. You may find me useful.”

*

Here was the coast Professor Saleem had spoken of 10 years ago!
May you rest in peace, Professor Saleem, may you rest in peace. No doubt it was God favoring you when he took you one night before the fall of the poor city at the hands of the Jews. One night only, my God.

Is there divine comfort greater than this? It’s true that men were working at burying you, and welcoming your death, but you stayed there, stayed there, you saved yourself humiliation and debasement, and saved your years from shame. May you rest in peace, Professor Saleem. You see that if you lived poverty would sink you like it sunk me. Would you do what I’m doing now? Would you be carrying all your years over your back and escaping across the desert to Kuwait just to find a morsel of bread?

-Ghassan Kanafani

from the book An Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture, and Thought, From Pre-Islamic Times to the Present, by Bassam K. Frangieh

Translated by Josh Berer

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