Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Rebellious Pen Returns | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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For six months my pen stopped writing. Six months of ailment and alienation where I felt an unrestrained desire to get back to my pen with a keen appetite that was as open as space and the hearts of lovers. Every time I would pick up my pen between sleep and wakefulness, the wise man would appear to reassure me, ‘Don’t worry, wanderer. And remember; the broader the vision, the less words there are to express it”.

The truth is my experience over the past six month from operating rooms, nurses, gauze, medicine, surgical knives, scalpels and long appointments, as long as the distance between lovers, confirmed the wise man’s advice. After my readings from the book of life, my perspective of man, life and pain came into a broader vision where words failed to express what I wanted to say. I grasp my pen but it rebels like a wild horse and here I was thinking I could tame it easily and gracefully, but words had become like a rare currency. Sometimes silence, or what appears to be a silence can suffice.

Over the past few months I have become convinced that life is a beautiful journey, if only we can understand the simple formula that pain is the other face of happiness, and disease the other side of the same coin as health. Sadness, extended waiting and dealing with the unknown are all a part of the tax we owe this life in return for a happy and secure one. It is madness to lose sight of conviction and surrender to pain, malaise and the unknown. It would be foolish to believe that we can customize life in accordance with our own personal standards. Through my pain I reflected, my certitude increasing from the moment the anesthetic seeped into my body to prepare me for the operating room, that the magical connection between the body and the soul must be truly understood. If we can strengthen our souls in times of grief, disease and misfortune, our bodies would have more endurance and much more fortitude than we would ever believe! Through an understanding of this formula, it is man who chooses between the will to challenge and the surgical knives, between body and soul, between operating rooms and the burial of loves ones, between the will to control the self and hold onto the spirit of optimism and smiling – the greatness of man’s potential.

In an atmosphere where the disease of the body intermingled with estrangement, phone calls came flooding from all directions, letters, faxes and flowers filled up my room. This conveyed the feeling that man was not alone and that the hearts and prayers of the loved ones – even those whom I did not know – showered upon me making me feel strong and able to confront things. More often than not I felt that they shared my pain, I even imagined some of them accompanying me into the operating room. And in a rare moment, he came to me, the rebellious one; I heard the echoing hooves of Abu al Tayyib al Mutanabbi’s horse. I repeated with him as he said:

There are passionate lovers,

And there are those who feign passion.

But when tears start to flow on cheeks,

It becomes evident who weeps and who feigns weeping.

It’s the kind of connection that can only be discerned by those who are well-versed in the science of love who know of the interlacing and resemblance between the tears and the cheeks they fall on.

I thanked God that all those who called, inquired, or prayed for my health, feeling my pain, were among those who weep without faking it. It is the rule – of love and humanity that is not subject to any exceptions. My experience over the last few months proved true all that I had told my students throughout the long years. I used to urge them to live, to challenge pain and to live in hope. I tried to explain to them in a simple language that evil is the exception and that the good is the rule, and that optimism and hanging on to the rope of hope is what always should be done and that pessimism, discontent, fear and sorrow are the exceptions!

No one, not even the greatest physicians, can cure you if you are weak and submissive. Only your satiated soul and your understanding of the delicate balance between body and soul can save you from the bereavement of burying your most loved one! Many commit a slow suicide when they surrender to pain and grief, and many are prisoners of their anxious souls, raising a white flag upon the first tremor, problem, or crisis – even when its trivial!

Nothing can make you stronger as much as confronting your own reflection and challenging its weakness and hesitation. Breathe life into everything that is human in you. Strengthening the soul is the real power behind curing the body of illness and melancholia. And so I return to my pen – although only half-fit, as athletes would say – but it’s a return; instead of abstract contemplation and agonizing without participation. It is an attempt to examine what hurts and many of those are pains that we experience through life, a life that saddens you to watch and aggravates that sadness if you participate in it!