Sunday, December 17, 2017

the last book I ever read (The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, excerpt three)

from 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner in Biography The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar:

Looking out of the aeroplane window, I wondered if they had taken the blindfold off once Father was inside the plane. Did they allow him at least a chance to see the land from the air? Years later, I met a man who claimed to have met another man who worked on the runway in Tripoli and recalled seeing a private jet land and a man being escorted from it. The date and the time matched. The description of the prisoner suggested that he might have been my father. “His hair was completely white. Well dressed. Handcuffed and blindfolded. A proud gait.” This was the land my father loved more than anything else. “Don’t put yourselves in competition with Libya. You will always lose,” he had said, when once the three of us had tried to dissuade him from openly opposing Qaddafi. The silence that followed was the distance between him and us. The disagreement had a historical dimension. It placed a nation against the intimate reality of a family. I looked at the wildflowers beside the runway. Spring in full bloom. And, when we stepped out of the aeroplane, the familiar scents in the air were like a blanket you were not aware you needed, but now that it has been placed on your shoulders you are grateful. My childhood friend, cousin Marwan al-Tashani, a Benghazi judge, stood at the foot of the ladder, smiling, holding a camera.

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