‘He is the son of all of you’

Mourid Barghouti in The Guardian:

Mahmouddarwishfun_790362c_2 A hot midday on a hillside overlooking Ramallah, a blue sky with some bashful, short-lived clouds and Palestinian flags everywhere, side by side with his photo – and the voice of Mahmoud Darwish reciting his own poetry came pure and powerful through the huge loudspeakers and covered the whole landscape. In the middle of the courtyard of Ramallah’s Cultural Palace, where he’d given his last poetry reading a few weeks ago (at which he read “The Dice Player”), the empty grave was waiting for the body of the poet. The roads up the hill carried wave after wave of people of all ages and affiliations, all trying hard to get as close as possible to the grave to say goodbye to their poet. As the coffin was lowered into the ground, a small regiment of Palestinian security officers had to restrain a crowd struggling to look at the grave, and another fired 21 shots in salute.

We circled around the grave, and I found myself next to his mother, Houria, aged 92 – who was brought from Galilee in an ambulance and brought on a wheelchair to have a last glance at her boy, whose most famous line is “I yearn for my mother’s bread and my mother’s coffee” – and his two brothers, Ahmad and Zaki. I saw his sisters only after the ceremony was over. The family was almost apologetic for their presence among those thousands of mourners; his mother, in her feeble, broken voice, said: “He is the son of all of you.” This was the first time I had seen his mother. She does not travel, and I am not allowed to go to Galilee.

Earlier in the day, just before 10am, Darwish’s body arrived on a flight from the United States in Amman, Jordan. After a short ceremony the casket was loaded on to a Jordanian military helicopter, which flew to Ramallah, landing at noon. Far from Ramallah, a procession left the Ahihud junction, east of Acre, heading towards the former village of Al-Birweh, where Darwish was born.

More here.