Memories of “The Wind Path” .. When memory becomes the only refuge in times of epidemic

The isolation imposed by the preventive measures after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic was a reason for the displacement of memories from the memory of the writer Seif Al-Atassi; Where “the idea of ​​isolation and prohibition opens room for more imagination, even if it is vague and unclear.”

In a time in which there are many literary works whose narration is inspired by fiction, the Syrian doctor and writer Seif El-Din Al-Atassi presents a literary work that is similar to an autobiography, in which he restores memories and realistic images that he lived through over 5 decades, in a white language free of pretension and graceful style that motivates the reader to move forward with Wind Trail.

The book “The Wind’s Path” – which extends to 150 pages of medium pieces and was recently published by Mosaique for Studies and Publishing – comes second in order after the book “Shabeet on the Walls”, which was published by Seif al-Din al-Atassi this year (2021).

“The Wind Path” is a mixture of documentary memories of important and influential events and personalities in contemporary Arab history, and the personal lived memories of its writer in 5 Arab and European cities, which makes it a rich and diverse book in its topics and purposes between history and archiving and between self-narration about personal experience.

The siege of Iraq… when humanity needs lively consciences

The writer begins his documentary memoirs with painful observations of Iraqi families in Baghdad, where poverty and need in the early nineties of the last century, following the issuance of Security Council Resolution No. 661, which included comprehensive economic sanctions on Iraq.

Seif El-Din believes that the decision was a flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; As it led to a severe shortage of food, medicine, and basic services for the Iraqi people, as well as paving the way for Security Council Resolution No. 986, which stipulated the program of the Memorandum of Understanding; Oil for food.

The writer believes that this memorandum of understanding was “a trap set by the British and Americans, and the former Iraqi leadership fell into it.” That memorandum made the United Nations look at Iraq as a “refugee camp, nothing more, nothing less.”

In light of the air embargo imposed on Iraq, a group – called by Saif al-Din in the book the “Amal” group, one of its members – decided to launch the first civilian flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to Saddam Hussein Airport in Baghdad, with the aim of “breaking the embargo and raising the morale of an exhausted people.” the siege”.

The group had what it wanted, as the French Foundation May organized this flight on a plane that landed at Baghdad Airport on September 22, 2000, and included a delegation of French doctors, artists and athletes headed by the organization’s president, the French-Lebanese engineer Jihad. Feghali and Dr. Seif El-Din Al-Atassi.

The delegation of the Hope Group after its arrival in Baghdad (Al-Katib Archive, Al-Jazeera)

And about his feelings in those moments and the purpose of the trip, Saif Al-Din Al-Atassi told Al Jazeera Net, “There is no doubt that I felt proud on the day of the trip because I was in the organizers’ crew and the accompanying doctors examined many patients and chose many cases for treatment in France, and the trip had no goals other than humanitarian work. And opening the way to demolish the air blockade imposed on the Iraqi people.”

After examining patients, visiting the Ministry of Health, and highlighting the scarcity of medical equipment in hospitals and other events, the French delegation was able to participate in the Babylon Festival and its members present an artistic dance performance as a form of solidarity with the Iraqi people amid warm applause on the stage of the archaeological theater in the city of Babylon.

A character from a long time ago

We stay in Baghdad; Where the writer meets the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Muhammad al-Abbas, “Abu al-Abbas or Abu Khaled”; That man “the noble who stormed the Palestinian political and military arena storming the hurricane.”

And about Abu al-Abbas and the scenes of their meeting in Baghdad, Saif al-Din told Al-Jazeera Net, “The fates brought us together in the night of Baghdad under siege, where the limited number of friends who spend their nights together, and I wanted in the book to shed light on Abu al-Abbas because I discovered the luminous human side of his struggle life from His love for readers, listening to music, and raising children, those are the human details that help leaders overcome difficulties.”

He was described by a blogger in The Path of the Wind: “He was generous, gallant, courageous, a man of attitude and a lover of people. His stories and his life were shown before my eyes like a movie tape filled with interesting events, so he loved Ghassan Kanafani, Rabai Al-Madhoun, Emile Habibi, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, love, philosophy and homeland in the poems of Mahmoud Darwish ( …) as he loved Handala’s drawings.”

Al-Atassi recalled the most prominent operations of Abu al-Abbas, which was the hijacking of the Italian ship “Achille Lauro” on October 7, 1985, which was heading to the Israeli port of Ashdod. committed by the men who carried out the operation, which led to a confrontation between them and the ship’s security apparatus; Which in turn led to the death of the elderly American passenger “Leon Cliffhofer”, which “the United States of America did not forgive”, as Abu al-Abbas was arrested after a snitch about him in Baghdad following the American invasion of Iraq.

Al-Atassi writes, “There is no doubt that imprisonment is more painful than death for free souls. When free people are imprisoned, their souls rise to heaven as a form of protest and a rejection of restraint and detention.” Abu al-Abbas died in an American prison in Iraq in mysterious circumstances on March 8, 2004.

Homs, love and the departure of friends in the time of Corona

The isolation imposed by the preventive measures after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic was a reason for the memories to be displaced from the writer’s memory, as “the idea of ​​isolation and ban opens room for more imagination, even if it is vague and unclear.”

He recalled the memories of his city of Homs, which he tells us about, by saying, “I left Homs 10 years ago and you never left me, there are my family, my mother, history and love, but we lived under a political system that resembles a gang that has no room for any discussion, and when any voice rises, it quickly disappears because it is an unbearable system.” Only one vote.

The writer adds, “But Homs Al-Assi, Al-Mimas, Dick Al-Jin, the city of black stones and white hearts will remain, and the “Karjieh Haddad” clock in its square in front of the Government House in the city center will remain a symbol of dignity and pride until we restore the decision, and the virtues of freedom and joy.”

A number of members of the delegation that was on the French plane, including engineer Jihad Feghali - from the writer's archiveA number of members of the delegation that was on the French plane, including the engineer Jihad Feghali (Al-Kateb Archive, Al-Jazeera)

Soon, Jihad Al-Faghali – the engineer and head of the organization whose delegation traveled to Baghdad – returns again to the forefront of the narrative, but this time with an epitaph in which the writer illuminates the human face of his late friend with the epidemic and in his time, he writes, “Oh Jihad, alone, walking with what remains in my garden of the blossom of silence, I will I miss you, and I will never forget the freedom, beauty and tolerance you instilled in me without malice or a drop of blood.

And about the value of friendship in times like the one we live in, Al-Atassi told Al Jazeera Net, “Friendship is the essence of human values ​​that transcend life. Friendship is a precious, important and beautiful thing.”

Between love, Paris, and criticism of the Syrian opposition in a comic way, and sentimental writing, the themes of “The Wind’s Path” change and the methods of its narration vary, so that the reader can see the writer in all his cases, indignant, sad, in love, expatriate and critical, and longing for countries divided by crises and wars.

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