For a while now I have been thinking – sometimes in discussion with friends- of stories our discipline tells us, how different they get to become even if they have been modelled and moulded together. I have been educated in some sort of western inspired academic institutions. I never had an Azhariet education , for example. For reasons that have to do with the place of these institutions, there was always an add Egypt/Arabic/ Islamic/a some sort of “us” and stir in our curricula. Only now I come to realise that regardless of the inevitable lesser quality of the education we were bound to have, that these meagre, sometimes sincere and sometimes a fig-leaf decorative frosting had an immense value.
All the stories I grew up with were european stories anyway; but this afterthought addition of a half-backed story of ‘our own’, perhaps has helped extend the imagination of these european stories elsewhere. You come to reflect on that when you are in an’other’ elsewhere; in Europe. When you hear the same european story you know, but without the afterthought.
Then an imagery is kindled and opens up and knocks on neck and tugs at your sleeve. And imagery of a glove turned inside out, unfolding to reveal its empty air inside..a throbbing of a phantom limb.. you hear the story and you wait for the afterword, the anticlimax, the three extra chapters you had to learn by heart for half a dozen of exams that brings it home. The imagery of the glove is still an imagery of the glove, but the fingers are misplaces and the plot line dwells on the wrong places and skips the master scenes. Your naive image whispers, but , but, then this also happens.. and you quiet it by saying well all stories are incomplete, it is what makes them with telling.
This imagary has helped to open up a sense and desire for displacement, to open up the potential of rendering a whole chapter of Europe to a line without the world falling apart, because there could be other paragraphs about somewhere else…Europe can suddenly shrink to be very little, in a story told about exactly the same place that was its play field. Without any conscious attempt of replacement, without any (de/post/colonial struggle), it just happened that a story can be told from its margin. Such endless fascinating possibilities.