Monday, September 04, 2006

My dad and Nagib Mahfouz

I suppose many of you have heard about Nagib Mahfouz’ death. I was not particularly sad for his death, after such a difficult life, in such a difficult place, at such a difficult time, it’s his legitimate right to die. Not to mention that seeing so many people facing premature and violent deaths, makes me a little releaved to finally see someone simply dying because he has lived for too long and needing to move to a new phase of life.

On Friday, my brother and I were talking about Nagib Mahfouz. We spent time expressing our admiration and comparing this man to the average Homo jerkus that populates the region. We talked about how difficult it would be for the Arab world to see someone like him, judging from the mental bleed the Middle East is suffering from, we both agreed that it’ll be long before we would see another nagib Mahfouz.

In the midst of our admiration frenzy, my dad comes in (he was putting my little brother to bed) he sits in his in his favorite corner, puts his hand on the remote control device and we instantly knew that he was going to change the channel (we were watching a small documentary about Nagib Mahfouz). We didn’t mind, but as part of our family legacy we felt the need to open an intellectual conversation with my dad, so my brother asked:

- Baba, do you remember the time when Nagib Mahfouz received his Nobel prize?

The question itself may sound silly, since the even took place only 20 years ago, but we didn’t expect him to take notice of this event since that was in the middle of the Civil War…

- Oh yes, I remember it well… {Wow he remembers it! My dad the Anti-Arab remembers it! He admire him a lot}… at that time, the committee figured that no Arab has ever won the Nobel prize for literature and it was about time, so they gave him the prize…

Well I suppose it would give my dad a head ache to admit that maybe, just MAYBE a non-Lebanese non-Christian Arab MIGHT be worth admiration! It would kill him to admit that an Arab did something that the Lebanese failed to do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a very proud Lebanese (it might not be obvious because, but I am). But I try not to let my personal patriotism minimise the achievement of others.

You see, that’s what bothers me about my dad, he’s smart, really smart, his devotion to his family is beyond description and his love for us leaves many others jealous (without any exaggeration). He encouraged us to think, read and innovate, he supports us and believes in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves. But why does he have to be so stuborn and unfair for others?

Now when my brother and I heard him talk like that we were deeply disappointed. My brother tried reasoning with him, telling him that Mahfouz has written books are really interesting and describe life in Egypt as it really is, that it was art, real art.

As expected my dad increased the tempo and went straight to say that none of his writings were even “readable” and had absolutely no artistic value.

Yep, this meant that the conversation was OVER!


shlemazl said...

LoL. Guess I'll have to read the book to figure out who was right

Pazuzu said...

me too, but not now, right noww the prices of his books are outrageously high, because of his death