Letter to my people in the village of Bab al-Shams

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gate sun elias khaury hardcover cover art
Gate of the Sun cover art

Elias Khoury posted this letter to the villagers of Bab al-Shams, named after the Palestinian village in his epic novel by the same name. The title of his novel is translated: Gate of the Sun.

I won’t say I wish I were with you, I am with you. I see you, and I see how the dream through your hands has turned into reality rooted in the earth. “On this earth is what makes life worth living,” just as Mahmoud Darwish wrote, for when you built your wonderful village you gave back meaning to meaning. You became the sons of this land and its masters.

This is the Palestine that Younis dreamt of in the novel “Bab Al Shams / Gate of the Sun.” Younis had a dream made of words, and the words became wounds bleeding over the land. You became, people of Bab Al Shams, the words that carry the dream of freedom and return Palestine to Palestine.

I see in your village all the faces of the loved ones who departed on the way to the land of our Palestinian promise. Palestine is the promise of the strangers who were expelled from their land and continue to be expelled every day from their homes.

Strangers and yet you are the sons of the land, its olives and oil!

You are the olives of Palestine that shine under the sun of justice, and as you build your village, the light of freedom flares up with you.

“Light upon light.”

I see in your eyes a nation born from the rubble of the nakba that has gone on for sixty-four years.

I see you and in my heart the words grow. I see the words and you grow in my heart, rise high and burst into the sky.

Finally, I have only the wish that you accept me as a citizen in your village, that I may learn with you the meanings of freedom and justice.

Elias Khoury
Beirut January 12, 2013

Translated by Sonja Mejcher-Atassi

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i wept when i read this.

The poetry of the tents, the tents under the sun, the sun shining on Palestine.

how the dream through your hand has turned into reality rooted in the earth?

bab al-shams?

as if on cue?