Writers of the Palestinian Nakba: Ghassan Kanafani

~~All week, this week, I will be posting from Palestinian writers.  Yesterday, I posted two from Darwish. Today, an extract from the great Ghassan Kanafani~~

Haifa, 1932. Photo:Palestineremembered.com

Haifa, 1932. Photo:Palestineremembered.com

When Said S., who was approaching by car from the Jerusalem road, reached the outskirts of Haifa, he had the feeling that something was tying his tongue, demanding silence.  He felt the sorrow mounting from inside him and for a minute he toyed with the idea of turning back.  Without looking at her, he knew that she had begun quietly to cry.  Then all of a sudden there came the sound of the sea.  Exactly as it had once been. No, the memory did not come back to him little by little, but filled the whole inside of his head, as the walls of stone collapsed and piled on top of each other.  Things and events came suddenly, beginning to disintegrate and filling his body. Safiya, he said to himself. His wife.  She felt the same thing he did, and that’s why she had begun to cry.

Since leaving Ramallah that morning he had not stopped talking and neither had she. The fields slipped past before his eyes though the windows of the car.  The heat was unbearable and he could feel his forehead practically catching fire just like the asphalt underneath the car’s tyres. Up above was the sun, the terrible June sun pouring the pitch of its anger on to the land.

(From “Return to Haifa,” in Palestine’s Children, translated by Barbara Harlow, Heineman)

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About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
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