THREE CHAPTERS FROM HER NOVEL, AN TA'ASHAQ AL-HAYAT
To Love Life TRANSLATED BY NANCY ROBERTS
I’ve told you a lot so far, but I don’t remember anything anymore. I can’t tell my story in chronological order, but where was I? Can you remind me? Since getting sick, I’ve developed a habit that I don’t know how to break.When I’m talking, and even when I’m not, I keep pressing on my wrist, as if I think that will keep my memory from slipping out of my head from all the sedatives and other meds.
“All I remember is that whenever I finish the first chapter, I find myself starting a new, different ‘first’ chapter.Then I start a second one, or a third one or a fourth . . . I’ve lost count of all the ‘first’ chapters in my story! My delirium, my forgetfulness, scares me to death, not because beginnings are so difficult and confusing, but because they’ve started to get mixed up with endings, like sleeping getting mixed up with being awake. There are no boundaries between things anymore, no separation between one time and the next when the present burns up the past and turns to ashes.The present’s stained with blood. Even Nature’s seasons have started to overlap and get all confused.Their names have changed as though they’d lost their memory, or as though they were sick and delirious like me. Time itself has become ambiguous.
“Please listen to me the way you do when we have long talks over the phone and we never run out of things to say.You don’t have to rearrange the story to however suits you, or the way a novelist would do, or the way my friend Anisa does after she finishes the first draft of a book.
78 BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021
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