Displacement

“The Stranger is the person who renews his Residence Permit. He fills out forms and buys the stamps for them. He has to constantly come up with evidence and proofs. He is the one who always asked” “And where are you from, brother?” Or he is asked: “Are summers hot in your country?” He does not care for the details that concern the people of the country where he finds himself or for their ‘domestic’ policy. But he is the first to feel its consequences. He may not rejoice in what makes them happy but he is always afraid when they are afraid. He is always the ‘infiltrating element’ in demonstrations, even if he never left his house that day. He is the one whose relationship with places is distorted, he gets attached to them and repulsed by them at the same time. He is the one who cannot tell his story in a continuous narrative and lives hours in every moment. Every moment for him has its passing immortality. His memory resists ordering. He lives essentially in that hidden, silent spot within himself. He is careful of his mystery and dislikes those who probe into it. He lives the details of another life that does not interest those around him, and when he speaks he screens those details rather than declare them.  He loves the ringing of the telephone, yet fears it. The stranger is told by kind people: “You are in your second home here and among your kin.” He is despised for being a stranger, or sympathised with for being a stranger. The second is harder to bear than the first.”

– Mourid Barghouti, I Saw Ramallah, translated by Ahdaf Soueif

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