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I Saw Ramal/ah is about Barghouti's much-awaited journey to his
homeland after thirty years of exile. The book is rich with personal
memories of places, people, towns, events and times both in the past and
present and is full of humor, laughter, joy, sadness, heartbreak, sacrifice
and mourning. Throughout the book, there is a haunting feeling of loss and
loneliness as a result of dispossession.
The book starts at the bridge between Jordan and Palestine, the very
bridge that Barghouti had innocently crossed thirty years ago in order to
reach Cairo to continue his studies. When war broke out in 1967, he was
still in Cairo and could not return. He remembers that day in 1967 very
vividly, since it was to mark the beginning of a new life for him, as all of a
sudden he was "struck by displacement." One wonders if he would have
remembered the details as intensely were it just another day in his normal
life and not a day that would mark the beginning of life as an exile.
Barghouti jumps from his present to the past and back, cleverly and
smoothly, revealing a little here and there, and beckoning the reader to
hasten eagerly through the pages to discover the rest of the story. After a ...