I Saw Ramallah

by Barghouti, Mourid

In 1966, the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, then 22, left his country to return to university in Cairo. A year later came the Six Day War and Barghouti, like many Palestinians living abroad, was denied entry into his homeland. 30 years later, he was finally allowed to visit Ramallah, the city he had grown up in. A rickety wooden bridge over a dried up river connects the West Bank to Jordan. It is the very same bridge Barghouti had crossed little knowing that he would not be able to return. “I Saw Ramallah”, his beautiful account of homecoming, begins at this crossing, filled with its ironies and heartaches. In half bemusement, half joy, Barghouti journeys through Ramallah, keenly aware that the city he had left barely resembles the present-day city scarred by the Occupation – and he discovers in this displacement, that the events of 1967 have made him permanently homeless. Lyrical and impassioned, “I Saw Ramallah” is a profound reflection and lamentation on the conditions of exile.