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Book reading contradictions

Yusuf Awadh Al-Azmi

In one of his lectures, Political Science Professor at Kuwait University Dr Shafiq Al-Ghabra asked his students to read his book entitled, “Insecure Life.” The book includes the author’s biography and describes parts of his personal life along with the important stages of the Palestinian struggle. The book was written in an exciting way, putting events in a crystal clear context.  The documentary book highlights details about the Palestinian willingly sacrificing (‘fedayee’) work since he moved to Lebanon shortly before the middle of the 1970s.  The book presents precise details in a sincere and plain manner. This is what gives additional importance to the documentary book which is part of the academic curricula of the College of Political Sciences at Kuwait University. It is so good that Dr Al-Ghabra is the author of the book and the lecturer as well.

Haphazardly, I read the book a few years ago but I did not expect to re-read it as per the directive of the author and as a textbook.  It is quite different to read a book willingly and to read it compulsorily. According to my personal experience, the level of understanding is different in both cases. When I read a book on my own free will, I read the chapters quickly while the reader is not necessarily aware.  On the other hand, reading a book in compliance with a directive and in order to pass an exam to measure the extent you (as a student) understand it requires the student to have a pencil and paper ready to take down notes and highlight the significant paragraphs and phrases to read them carefully or even memorize them. The difference between these readings is huge, as well as the level of understanding.

A student asked me about the meaning of the title of the book. He inquired if the book is about two girls – one named ‘Insecure’ and the other ‘Life’. Although I found the question strange and despite the fact that I wondered about the way my colleague was thinking and how he understood the title, I was sure the student was inquiring innocently. I responded to my colleague, saying the title is clear and it tells that the ‘fedayee’ life which Dr Al-Ghabra led was unsafe. Addressing my intelligent colleague, I said: “I do not think the author meant anything else.”

However, my colleague interrupted me saying it can go both ways. I begged him to put an end to the argument for fear of being leaked by someone spying and in order to let the day end safely. Let it be Insecure Life or the girl ‘Insecure’ and her peer ‘Life’. The most important thing is that the day ends well. It is worth mentioning that my colleague writes poetry and it seems he uttered such a statement due to the influence of poetry on his way of thinking.

One of the important aspects of the book is that it was written by an academic figure who lived the full experience with all the details.  He exerted tremendous efforts required of a ‘fedayee’ activist. He was a real struggler who was at the center of a dangerous circle and he recorded everything by himself.

He later explained in his lectures what was summarized in the book. He added some important observations and more information which, perhaps, was not published.  This is an additional source of interest and beneficial to the reader.

I am not going to talk about the chapters of the book since even nine articles cannot fully explain the book. I just want to write this article to be published by the Arab Times in particular and in English because Dr Al-Ghabra said in the book that he began his life in Britain where he used to communicate in English. He pointed out that when he went back to Cairo to accompany his brother in coming home to Kuwait, rumor had it that he did not know how to speak in his mother tongue which is Arabic. He said such rumors upset him. The book is full of exciting details which I might tackle in an upcoming article.

Twitter: @alzmi1969

By Yusuf Awad Al-Azmi

“Bitter experience taught us that the Arab case has been fed by slogans and it suffers from plenty of contradictions between open speech and actions. Arab capabilities are also limited.  However, this current fact will change with time.” – Dr Shafiq Al-Ghabra

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