حياتي ... الكتابة / Writing ... My Life
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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics
[Writing is an activity that combines two pleasures: intellectual and sensual. A writer is a creator not limited by her/his gender. But could this earthly creator escape her/his gender-specific, socio-cultural heritage? The author tries to pinpoint the ways in which her fictional characters have been affected by parts of her self and reality. She traces these characters' lives between the coincidences of birth and death, talking about her own life in between the two. In this testimony the Iraqi writer recalls scenes from memory, some related to her life and some to her writing. The following are excerpts from the testimony, published in its entirety in the Arabic section. * I see my life as a series of transits as I go through the photographs I have kept over the years ... photographs are all that is left from my transits. * In those days, I used to believe that all the countries God created were my home. I used to call myself a universal being, not limited to a certain country and belonging to the universe with its heaven, earth and what comes between them. Now, I know how misled I was. I knew it when I made myself a home outside of Iraq. * It disturbs me that when I went back to Iraq, after its recent disaster and three years of absence, I saw that the people have grown old all of a sudden.... Among them I was-what a shame! -a visitor full of health, energy and ignorance. I could not even reply to their perpetual question: "When are the sanctions coming to an end, you people who live abroad?" * Soon the visit is over and I find myself in the car, waving goodbye to my people whom I leave behind, so rooted in their land, while I swim in some other space uprooted, not knowing where to plant myself in some other land. The question tortures me: do I remain, like them, Iraqi? I, who have not seen what their eyes have seen and have not gone through the test with them? * From the first piece I wrote to the last, I feel that I have always written everything about what I did not experience, writing nothing about what I experience. * Most of my characters are men from backgrounds I never experienced first-hand. Why do I put on a mask every time I hold a pen and start writing? It is not possible that patriarchal censorship is the only reason, even though I believe it is a reality that most women writers in the Arab world could not escape. The man in the house always wanted to know what I wrote before it has been published. * Why do I write? * I never asked myself this question. Writing is an activity I could not live without. I could stop writing for years but the urge remains latent in my veins, awaiting the moment of explosion. This moment is more precious than all other forms of pleasure, for in it, there is birth, death, resurrection and creation. When I write, the world around me stops and the world inside me starts to be shaped. Then, I become one whole: the creator and the created. * And writing remains the last refuge.]
Al Nasiri, B.
(1999). حياتي ... الكتابة / Writing ... My Life. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 23–28.
Al Nasiri, Buthaina
"حياتي ... الكتابة / Writing ... My Life." Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 19, 1999, pp. 23–28.