I’ve been thinking about “Eat Pray Love” a lot lately. I have the tendency to get a tad bit obsessive when I am drawn to something and this book has been at the top of that obsession list although it’s probably been a year since I read it. For those who are unfamiliar with the book, I found it to be a treasure trove of insights and amazing words that you want to remember and quote – so much so that I have dog-eared a good chunk of the pages in it. What has gotten me thinking is the scene set in Rome when they refer to each city or person as having a word. In the movie, Julia Roberts eventually discovers that her word is “Attraversiamo” – Italian for “let’s cross over”. A woman who left everything behind to travel the world for a year in search of herself. She found not only herself but friendship, love and balance. Sometimes you need to take a crazy leap of faith and to go down the more difficult road to find the best things in life.
Perhaps the biggest learning for me was that our perception of balance is often skewed as she learns is the case for her towards the end of the story. My favorite quote in the whole book is that “to lose balance for love sometimes is part of leading a balanced life”. And what greater imbalance is there than to welcome the gushing emotions of love into your life, whatever crazy imbalances they may cause.
Do you know what your word is?
(For those who havent yet read the book or seen the movie, choose the book. It is rich in words and emotions and is incredibly contagious.)
It is not very often that a book touches me and so I felt compelled to share this with you. I finished the book this morning sitting poolside in ridiculously hot temperatures and it is still top of mind. This is usually a positive sign as it is rare that I reflect over a book I have finished for long. Perhaps I am somewhat biased being a Palestinian girl with no country to call my own, still I am a huge fan of foreign films in general (although I’m not sure this classifies as such for me, given its in my native mother tongue!) nonetheless, it has been shown at several film festivals including the 2010 Venice Film Festival and the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and has garnered a lot of acclaim from movie critics the world over. I saw the premiere of the movie at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last October and was very lucky to meet both Rula Jebreal (the author) as well as Frieda Pinto (who plays Miral in the movie) before reading the book.
Miral is a compelling and incredibly touching true-story set in Jerusalem in the days of the Intifada. The backdrop of the story alone is so beautifully captured it managed to successfully transport me back there to relive the beautiful white stone houses, the hustle and bustle of The Old City and the beautiful Mount of Olives. How stunning my Jerusalem is. The book begins with Miral’s mother Nadia as a young girl who we learn was sexually abused as a child and fled home at a very young age throwing herself into dangerous and ethically questionable professions to make a living. Miral loses her mother at a very young age and is sent by her father to Dar El Tifl, an orphanage started and run by the legendary Hind Al-Husseini whose plight to serve the women of her country began as a gesture of kindness – after the first Israeli-Arab war of 1948 – and lasted her whole life as she urged the girls she took in to choose education over conflict. As Miral witnesses the effects of the Israeli campaigns against the intifada, she draws closer to the political fringes, finally choosing to join the struggle in full and falling for the man who helped her become more actively involved. She exposes the truths about living through war, the hard-to-accept realities of the refugee camps where time is forgotten and alot of passion for a cause that is dear to many peoples hearts.
There are few novels that showcase such a personal conflict in such depth and complexity. She is a brave story-teller and gives an honest portrayal of the daily difficulties and loss of innocence of growing up in a hostile environment that continues to break the Palestinians down every day.
May we one day have the right to return to our Holy Land so that our children can experience what we never had a chance to. A country. An anthem. The familiarity of a place. The sense of belonging. (Ya rab)…