REMEMBERING HAYAT SHARARA
minds me of the situation in Lebanon. Yet, running away is no relief to me. I am deeply rooted here, in this very land that keeps boiling and raging with death and destruction but never kills our hopes. As long as the flame of hope is still alive in my heart, I should be fine.”
As the war continued to consume one generation after another, students grew so scared of being sent to the battlefield that they deliberately performed badly enough in their exams to ensure they did not pass to the next year and thus stayed at the university for as long as they possibly could. Venting her frustration at this situation, she once wrote to me, “Students have lost the motive to learn. Our efforts are worthless. Learning has become a losing business.”
Later, however, she found some excuse for those students when she realized the troubles they faced upon return from the training camps. “They lost the faculty of imagining and dreaming, and with that all their once blossoming hopes and ambitions died. The present is falling apart before their very eyes, its debris falling on both the past and future.”
Despite the ongoing war, that period proved to be highly productive for Hayat. As she mentioned in her letters to me, she wrote several articles on poetry and theatre and started translating some novels and some difficult poems that had not been translated before.
* * *
During the 1980s, Hayat tried hard to obtain a passport in order to visit relatives in Lebanon and to find publishers for her work. Only after ten years of unsuccessful attempts did she finally get approval. She wrote to me on February 13, 1990: “At last visiting you has become possible. The travel ban has been lifted and once we heard the news we started to dream of travelling to neighbouring countries. Life without dreams is barren and dull. We had a big celebration at the college.”
Hayat went to London with her two daughters to spend summer with our sister Mariam. However, with the outbreak of the Gulf War, she returned home at the beginning of the academic year.
By the end of 1991, Hayat had another problem to face. A new rule was issued banning females under 45 years from travelling abroad unless accompanied by a first-degree male guardian. The ra-
22 BANIPAL 63 – AUTUMN/WINTER 2018