For two days now I have been sitting at the computer without a word coming out. My head is bursting from nerves and the kids are keeping their distance from me, because I have the look of a madman in my eyes. And why? Because of a crappy column that appears after articles about steaks and barbecuing tips for Independence Day. Does it really make any difference to anyone what I will scribble there? Why can't I take it lightly, try to enjoy it? Because that's how I am. I wasn't made for pleasures: I always miss them. "It seems to come to you easily, naturally" - that drives me up the wall every time I hear it. "How long does it take you, an hour?"
Well, in fact, no, sometimes it seems like an eternity, sometimes it reaches a point where I hear comments at home like "Make up your mind - either me or the column."
Nothing happened this week. I have the feeling that not only is nothing happening in my life, but nothing is happening in this village I'm stuck in. Which is good: it's considered an achievement to find a boring village where there's no news. You pay an extra $200 a month for that. Because what good news can come out of an Arab village, anyway?
For a few hours now, the neighbors have been cleaning their new car. Their little boy is sitting in the driver's seat blowing the horn. I have to get out of here, I have to find a place where things happen, a place where all you have to do is look out the window or step outside and straightaway you encounter an interesting face that will be grist for the writing mill. A place where you can sit, have a cup of coffee, read the paper and watch the passersby.
I live in a desert. In the past two days I have visited every possible place in the village - the barber, the butcher, the greengrocer - and nothing happened, they were sparing with their words. Everyone seems to be at least as engrossed in how to escape as I am.
No good writer can emerge in a place like this. How could he? I need a true city, not a toy village near a city that looks more like some dreary settler outpost than a city. And just to pour salt in the wound, I spent the whole week wandering around Istanbul with Orhan Pamuk. What makes Istanbul holy, as opposed to Jerusalem, is the fact that it has whorehouses and nightclubs. How can anyone write in a city that doesn't have a tavern?
"I wouldn't live in Switzerland," idiots will say arrogantly. "It's boring there. Nothing happens - not like here, where there's something new every day." What's new, already? Even the war has looked the same for the past hundred years. At least if there was a war and there were also whores in the holy city.
You know what? That's what Zionism is for me: to think that the country is interesting, that Jerusalem is beautiful and that Tel Aviv is lively. True, in Tel Aviv there are at least whores, but whores of a type you can't write a word about, because you can't exchange a word with them unless you studied dentistry at the expense of the Communist Party 20 years ago.
Ah, the phone is ringing at last. At least something's happening here.
Hello, have I reached the writer and journalist?
Isn't this the phone number of Sayed Kashua?
Can I speak to him, please?
Oh, it's you?
Hello, I wanted to ask if we could interview you for a special program we're doing for Independence Day.
If you have a few minutes, I'll be happy to ask you a few preparatory questions.
I have all the time in the world.
So, to begin with, I really wanted to ask you how Independence Day makes you feel, as an Arab and a citizen of the country.
Could you, ummmm, maybe elaborate a bit?
Yeah, sure. Independence Day, as an Arab and as a citizen, makes me feel like shit.
I understand, but could you, let's say, explain why. Is it because you don't have a sense of belonging? Because of the discrimination? Can you....
It has nothing to do with belonging. What does belonging have to do with it? I feel bad here in general, without any connection.
And Independence Day, I imagine, adds to the feeling of depression that you feel as a citizen of the country.
Can you be more specific?
Yeah, sure. On Independence Day I feel bad and depressed, and on top of it the kids are out of school.
I don't understand.
I am saying that they bother me on Independence Day, I have to be with them the whole day.
And what do you actually tell your children on Independence Day? What do you say to them on a day like this?
I tell them to hightail it into the living room. Sometimes I swear at them.
Ahhh. Another question we're asking all the participants in the special: If you were prime minister, what would you change in the country?
I would invest in whores.
Yes, that's what I would do, without a doubt, invest in whores.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now