Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti passed away yesterday aged 77. AYESHA KIDWAI who met and came to know him during the term of a residential fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute, Bellagio, writes a farewell. Ayesha has also translated some of Mourid Barghouti’s poems into Hindustani on Kafila. Link to the translations is given below.
Late last night I was struck with concern for Mourid and how he was, and now I read that he passed away a few hours ago.
I hope you went without pain, my dear friend; the wry and generous bravery with which you loved should have given you that.
I hope that you got that moment, as you always sought in life, when you stepped out of the scene of your own passing and looked at it from afar and above. Only you would have found the one mourner or thing to mourn that sums up this grief that bores with such intensity into our souls.
Farewell, my friend, because when peace was never yours or Palestine’s, it is meaningless to wish for you to rest in peace.
I just hope that as you passed, you could think one final time of Radwa and Tamil and Palestine, and also once again the words of
your favourite poet Wislawa Szymborska.
On Death, without Exaggeration
It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.
In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.
It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.
Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.
Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
and repeat attempts!
Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.
All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.
Ill will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat
is so far not enough.
Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.
Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.
There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.
always arrives by that very moment too late.
In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.