Text size

Hello?

Hi. May I speak with Mr. Sayed Kashua?

Speaking.

My name is Bassam, I am from Nazareth and currently live in Jerusalem. I hope I'm not disturbing you.

No, not at all.

First of all, I wanted to tell you that I love your writing. I follow your articles and usually am very pleased with them.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

You used to write longer stories, right?

Right.

So what happened? You stopped?

Nothing happened. No reason.

I want to ask you something, if I may.

Go ahead.

The papers prevent you from writing about politics, don't they?

Not at all. No.

No? Because let me tell you, I and a few of my friends who are also acquainted with your writing are surprised that you have stopped writing your political views. It is because of censorship.

No. There is no censorship.

Then what happened?

About what?

You mean to tell me that they give you total freedom to write whatever you want?

Totally.

And this is what you choose to write?

Yes. Why? Is something wrong?

No. Not at all. I was just sure that your writing was censored.

Why?

Because all you write about is how you got drunk, about your wife and all sorts of other nonsense.

I don't get it.

Well, don't get me wrong, sometimes it's funny but I thought they were not allowing you to write about Arabs and about the war.

No, it has nothing to do with my writing. I can write whatever I want.

And this is what you want?

Mmmm...

Well, it's a bit surprising. To tell you the truth, I am surprised.

What about?

Finally there's a platform for an Arab in an Israeli paper and this is what he writes?

No, mmmm.....

Don't we have other problems right now, other than your hangovers and your conversations with your wife?

You're right.

You have to make better use of the platform you were given.

Right.

Good-bye.

I only wanted to tell you that you're right and thank you for calling.

Ya allah. He is absolutely right, this man. My body is trembling with shame. I feel my face burning red with embarrassment. What an idiot I am! Truly. Starting this week I'm changing everything. That's it. A new era. I don't care anymore. From now on I'm giving it to everyone. That includes the government, the settlers, all of them! I need to write about Olmert and Rice. I'll show them this week. Ok, first I need a drink, so I can calm down. I must concentrate. So I can give it to them for what they did this week. My God, what on earth did they do this week?

The hell with it! For once I've not been reading the papers, not watching the news and the only Web sites I surf are related to culture and cars. No, this man is right. I'm disconnected. Enough! From now on, I'm on it. Hang on, wait a second, ok? Sorry, I just called my father. I wanted to ask him if anything of interest happened this week but he didn't answer.

Never mind. What can I write about?

I've got an idea. I'll dial *42.

Hello?

Hello, Bassam?

Speaking.

This is Sayed. We talked just now.

Hi there.

I wanted to tell you once again that you're absolutely right and that from this day on things will be different.

I'm glad that I could be of some assistance.

No, really. Thank you. I just wanted to ask: For this week's column, what do you think I should write about? I mean, what can serve our purpose as a national minority?

Well, a lot of things. First we have this business with the Syrians and the North Koreans.

What about them? Can I write about that?

Clearly, it's an example of political persecution. Not only of the Syrians, but of the entire Arab public. Please write that Israel and America allow themselves to be the world's policemen.

Ok. I wrote that down. What else?

There's this thing about the poverty and hunger in besieged Gaza. And of course, there's always the ongoing assassinations that nobody even talks about anymore. And there's also Olmert's so-called easements of the Palestinian situation, although in practice he hasn't removed even one roadblock. Write that it's all part of a disgusting media manipulation.

Ok.

What else? Let's see...

I think I have enough for one week. Tell me, Bassam, may I call you again next week?

Sure. Be my guest.

Ok. Thank you very much. Thank you.