Getting Personal Quoting Others

On losing a prince of narrative and entering a stream of consciousness


When Al Jazeera English was first founded, the champion of novelty that I am, eagerly signed up as a correspondent on the Riz Khan Show. In those early days, when Al Jazeera had yet to feature in the DSTV bouquet, I received an email almost daily from the Riz Khan team in DC, detailing future shows and asking my pithy contribution. I stayed glued to Arabsat just as often, waiting to see if my two-cents worth had made it to the screen. Sometimes I was rewarded, ‘Ha there’s mine! There! Mum come quick Look! Oh darn it it’s gone now.’ Most times, I just watched, and had lengthy interactions with the show’s guests all the same. A labour of love, if ever there was.

I don’t watch Riz Khan as much as I’d like anymore (I blame it on blogging) but I do still receive emails from the Riz Khan team, entreating me to give blogging a break and interact with them instead. Today’s email shook me: ‘With the loss of Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish who do you think will speak the Palestinian narrative?’ Yes, Darwish, the great poet had passed on, I knew, but suddenly I felt a dearth in the world that is for us to fill.

Darwish was a poet and a fine one at that. Just a few days ago I discussed with bint battuta the merits of Al Khansaa’s poetry, and how, even in translation it holds up well, belying the French who say, ‘Translating a great poem is like kissing another man’s bride through a veil.’ Reading and listening to Darwish in Arabic is a profound experience and listening to him today has left me aggrieved. But his words do live on, haunting those left behind. Here he is, in English:

Psalm Three

On the day when my words

were earth…

I was a friend to stalks of wheat.


On the day when my words

were wrath

I was a friend to chains.


On the day when my words

were stones

I was a friend to streams.


On the day when my words

were a rebellion

I was a friend to earthquakes.


On the day when my words

were bitter apples

I was a friend to the optimist.


But when my words became


flies covered

my lips!…

The poet Naomi Shihab Nye commenting on Darwish’s work,

“Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging…”

I have suddenly developed the urge to write fiction. I thought I was adverse to it. But I have this great idea running through my head. It’s so poignantly me and now. I have to write. I’m starting to think I can write. I blame it on blogging.


9 replies on “On losing a prince of narrative and entering a stream of consciousness”

>Hehe hiya there šŸ™‚
I keep refreshing waiting for a new post! My favourite bloggers should update more often *tsk, tsk*

>8bitsofcoffee, phew! i did think there was a dodgy presence lurking about hehe
ahlain! tea/coffee? cookies? we dont have starbucks over here šŸ™ but we have have some adequate compromises :p

waseem, at least with the new banner i dont have to worry somebody’s gona open my blog n sue me for infringing conpyrights on their pictures.

it’s mayfair, a january afternoon, when the heavens take their turn to rant upon the summery highveld.

>”i don’t think it was particulary ‘tv worthy’, i’m quite sure they were short on contributions those days”
Ah, too humble!
I was never into poetry, but I truly like the one you’ve posted.
I’ve actually been stalking your blog for quite sometime now. Loving the new banner šŸ™‚

>noorjehaan, that’s reassuring :p

globalcitizen, shukran yakhti! the poem, is special. now see would that i could write like that, i’d deserve to be called a writer. for now, i’ll stick to being a sometimes student.

waseem, firstly une grande merci for the feedback on my constant tinkering with the template colours, just as in forging identity, i feel a compulsion towards constant re-invention, presenting something new for the world to mull over. i’ve tinkered a bit more, let me know if the new colours are friendlier to the eyes.

And then merci encore for the writing advice, esp the backspace/tippex part. I was tempted to hit del on what i’ve writen, but i’ll let it hum in my archives for a bit longer. it’s a guilty sort of pleasure persuit when scholarly endeavours lay unattended.

…lol… i don’t think it was particulary ‘tv worthy’, i’m quite sure they were short on contributions those days.

>Must be really amazing stuff to see your question on TV, what kind of questions did you ask that were TV worthy?

Mu unqualified advice for wanting to write is never delete what you write, just write and write, edit after, not during, forget you have a backspace key/tippex.

um … The green is a bit eye unfriendly.


This shouldn’t sound like a mere compliment, but the truth is, you certainly can!

The poem is pure sublimity!

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