Saturday, August 29, 2015



Susan Abulhawa

Palestinian-American writer and activist Susan Abulhawa talks about how the stories of Palestinians can be told without Israeli characters.

Susan Abulhawa’s second novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water, a multigenerational saga set in Gaza, speaks of the heroism of the women of Palestine during times of war and loss. Abulhawa’s debut novel Mornings in Jenin was a bestseller and was published in more than 20 languages.
How is your latest novel The Blue Between Sky and Water different from your debut novel Mornings in Jenin?
I suppose it is inevitable that this story is viewed relative to my first novel. It seems inescapable, like ‘middle child syndrome’, where siblings are compared to the first (or youngest) one. Although there are similarities with Mornings in Jenin, I hope that The Blue Between Sky and Water can stand (or fall) on its own merits. It’s a multigenerational saga set in Palestine, specifically Gaza. The main characters are women, strong but flawed and vulnerable. Although the events of the novel are set against a dramatic historic context, the real drama in the fore is the relationships between these women. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters throughout the writing process, and I hope their lives will be seen independently of my first novel.
Have you incorporated autobiographical elements in this novel too?
Yes. In this book, Nur’s life in foster care somewhat mirrors my own experience as an adolescent.
The narrative structure of your second novel is quite different from your first one. Did you do this deliberately or was it an unconscious decision?
I made a conscious decision not to think of the first novel as I wrote this one. I also deliberately did not think of audience, readers, or publishers. It is always a conscious decision to make the lives of my characters central to my thoughts. My only loyalty is to tell their lives honestly and authentically. To be honest (as oddly as it sounds), your question is my first realisation that the narrative structure here is very different than the first.
Your previous novel has a couple of Jewish characters who which are portrayed in sympathetic light. This novel has none. Please comment.
Another seemingly inescapable ‘relativism’ in judging this novel (or any Palestinian novel) pertains to the presence and treatment/presentation of Israeli characters. I think that’s an unfair meter by which to analyse Palestinian narratives and it’s a bit frustrating because the truth is that our lives and our worth in reality are often measured relative to our attitudes towards Israelis. We are an ancient indigenous society with a history, culture, and profound essence that has nothing to do with recent colonial settlers who arrived from Europe and other parts of the world. Whether an Israeli character appears in my novels or not is immaterial. This is a Palestinian story. My first novel was set in Jenin, which is in the West Bank, where Palestinians might be exposed to various Israeli personalities. But in Gaza, what people have seen of Jewish Israelis has been cruelty, from soldiers, settlers, and faceless pilots who drop bombs on them. For one reviewer, a major criticism of this novel was the absence of sympathetic Jewish Israeli characters. My first thought was that of all the novels and films and plays I’ve seen about the Jewish holocaust, I’ve never heard or read a single criticism that their tormentors and jailers were not portrayed with more nuance and sympathy.
In its review, the Publishers Weekly indirectly says that your novel is anti Israeli. How do you respond to this allegation?
This novel is not pro or anti anything. It is an authentic human narrative set against a well-documented historic context. It is for readers to make their own conclusions and opinions about it, which are never wrong or right.
Are you planning to start your next novel?
I already have.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Marasim to  the, per  dil  usne abhi lagaya  na tha
Nigahen meharbaan thi, per lab pe kuchh aaya na tha

Waise to hauee batein jahan bhar ki shab bhar
Lekin dil mein hai kya  usne bataya na tha

Ke lauta hoon barhan uske dahleez se main
Jata bhi to kaise, usne to kabhi bulaya na tha

Zamana kahe to kahta rahe usko wafa ki murat
Lekin usne to koi dastoor-e-wafa nibhaya na tha

Kuchh adhure se armaan aur ek toota hua dil
Inke siwa mere pass koi aur sarmaya na tha


Jaan ke badle kya wo apna pyar dega
Ya sara gham wo mujhe udhar dega

Dard ka mujassama hai wazood mera
Ek naya dard mera kya bigad lega

Main kyon jaaon uska haal poochhne
Use zaroorat hogi to khud hi pukar lega

Ek jhonke ne kar diya unke gesu barham
Doosra jhonka unki zhulfen sanwar dega

 Zakhmon ko ashqo ke dhage se si si kar
'Abd' apni zindagi ab yun hi guzar lega

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


 इश्क़ में मुझे भी कुछ दस्तूर निभाना था
बस सुर्ख अंगारों पे चल के जाना था
मौत का दिन तो तय था बहुत पहले से
उनकी क़ातिल निगाहों का तो सिर्फ़ एक बहाना था
हाँ फिर हरा हो गया तुम्हारी बातों से
वरना ये जख्म तो काफ़ी पुराना था
गेस्सुएँ के हसीन साए और सुरमई शाम
सोंचता हूँ, था भी तो वो क्या ज़माना था
मैं जनता हूँ की बेकार है ये इंतेज़ार अब्द
वो तो आ चुके होते अगर उनको आना था

Ishq mein mujhe bhi kuchh dastoor nibhana tha
Bas in surkh angaron pe chal ke jana tha

Maut ka din to tai tha bahut pahle se
Unki qatil nigahon ka to sirf ek bahana tha

Hanh phir hara ho gaya tumhari baton se
Warna ye jakhm to kafi purana tha

Gessuyen ke haseen saye aur surmayee shaam
Sonchta hun, tha bhi to wo kya zamana tha

main janta hoon ki bekar hai ye intezaar abd
Wo to aa chuke hote agar unko aanaa tha