Atiq Rahimi writes to the refugees of Bourj el-Barajneh

8 November 2014

Atiq Rahimi is all too familiar with exile and the daily life of the refugee. He left Afghanistan at the age of 20, fleeing civil war and the Soviet occupation. He wrote The Patience Stone, Prix Goncourt 2008 in the language of his country of asylum, France. A novel of liberation through words, it recounts an intimate conversation between an Afghan woman and her husband in a coma, as the war rages outside. In 2013, it was made into a movie, directed by Atiq Rahimi himself with an extraordinary performance by Golshifteh Farahani. Novelist, director, observer: Atiq Rahimi strolls through the streets of Bourj el-Barajneh, where it is difficult to see the sky. From this walkabout and the people he meets, he has brought back a postbag full of letters.


"First letter"

"It is here, in this Nâ-koja-âbâd as we say in my mother tongue, this nowhere land - that I open your first letter, written on loose sheets of paper."

"Third letter"

"After sixty-six years of insomnia, dreams are no more than memories of hope, the hope of being able to sleep for a night on a bed - as soft as a cloud -, inmolested by demons, or rats!

"Fifth letter"

"He tells himself that the Palestinians must be lost in exile in order to experience the sufferings of the wandering children of Abraham."
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