Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, December 8, 2023

Surda, Surda! Ramallah, Ramallah! - A Short Story by Khaled Hourani Translated by Andrew Leber - 2021 - Included in The Book of Ramallah- A City in Short Fiction- edited and introduced by Maya Abu Al-Hayat

Surda, Surda! Ramallah, Ramallah! - A Short Story by Khaled Hourani Translated by Andrew Leber - 2021 - Included in The Book of Ramallah- A City in Short Fiction- edited and introduced by Maya Abu Al-Hayat 

The City of Ramallah, population about 70,000, is located in the West Bank area of Palestine, has become a focal point of world wide media This Anthology was published prior to the initiation of the current conflict. In the very informative elegant introduction Maya Abu Al-Hayat tells us the literary history of the city going back to the 16th century up to 2021. She has selected a quite diverse range of stories but each one is informed by the impact of violence brought upon the city from Isreal. The time eras of the stories range from the 1960s to 2021 so political arrangements may vary in stories.

One thing that has happened for 1000s of years is young men armed against much weaker opposition often turn into petty tyrants and sadists. This is magnified when those in authority dehumanise the enemy.

Today's story is set during the Second Intifadas.

"The Second Intifada (Arabic: الانتفاضة الثانية Al-Intifāḍat aṯ-Ṯāniyya; Hebrew: האינתיפאדה השנייה Ha-Intifada ha-Shniya), also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada (انتفاضة الأقصى Intifāḍat al-ʾAqṣā), was a major uprising by Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, characterized by a period of heightened violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel between 2000 and 2005.the general triggers for the unrest are speculated to have been centred on the failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit, which was expected to reach a final agreement on the Israeli–Palestinian peace process in July 2000.[An uptick in violent incidents started in September 2000, after Israeli politician Ariel Sharon made a provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa compound, which is situated atop the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem;[the visit itself was peaceful, but, as anticipated, sparked protests and riots that Israeli police put down with rubber bullets and tear gas." From Wikipedia 

A focus of media attention on the current conflict has been the destruction of the medical facilities in the Gaza Strip by The Isreal Defence Forces.

Evidently during the period of this story hospitals were safe.

"‘Abd al-Ghaffar, now in his sixties, had regularly attended physiotherapy sessions ever since his right shoulder and hand had been seized by a sharp pain – the result of a slipped disc in his upper spine. The neurology specialist had prescribed the sessions after a long list of conventional medicines had failed to improve his condition. He’d chosen the treatment centre in the Mukhmas building, in downtown Ramallah." He feels safe there and the doctors in charge tell the patients they are like family.

"The specialist Osama al-Mughmari told them all: ‘No reason to worry, you’re all safe here! You’re like family here – stay in the building until things calm down, and then we’ll see how to get you home.’" 

The brief story bring vividly to reality the dangers and hardships of people just trying to get through their day.

Born in Hebron in 1965, Khaled Hourani is an artist, curator, critic and journalist based in Ramallah. He is the founder of Al Matal Gallery, founding director of the International Academy of Art in Palestine, and a former General Director of the Fine Arts Department in the Palestinian Ministry of Culture. He is also the founder of the Picasso in Palestine project, and co-director of a documentary of the same name. In 2013, he was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Prize Art and Social Change in New York. This is one of his first pieces of published fiction.

Mel Ulm 


1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

It must seem so ironic, reading a story like this now, in which the hospital is viewed as a place of safely, when the media has, as you've said, been so focussed on the attacks on/near hospitals in Gaza since The Hamas attack on Israel October 7/23.