Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Mina in his own words

"I am the writer of human strife and human joy, for even strife has its joy, its happiness, its extreme satisfaction, when you know that you are giving your life to save others, those whose faces you may not know, still you believe in your guts that saving them from the dept of fear, calamity, hunger and humiliation is worth the sacrifice¹. For me, awareness of one's existence must be transformed into a conscious attempt to translate that experience into awareness², and my first experience was in Swamp Street where I gew up in Eskenderun, was similar to my last experience, when I leave this world, and similar to the experience of strife in between, all of it destined to give awareness to my readers, to help rid them of ignorance, and to walk alongside them towards knowledge, this is the first step towards a better future".

Translator's Notes:

¹I have tried to keep Mina's unique style of punctuation--the Arabic sentence is long and punctuated with a series of commas--to reflect the urgency with which he writes (and speaks).

²in this sentence Mina uses a play on words which is difficult to translate verbatim. The idea is that a writer who is conscious, and politically aware, of their circumstances, then they have a duty to communicate their personal experiences and transform them into a consciousness raising narrative so that others can benefit from the "awareness" that the writer is gifted with.

The Sea has always been my inspiration, to the extent that most of my work is dipped in waters with raging waves. ... At the beginning³ I didn't mean it to be that way, but my flesh is fish, my blood is salty, my struggle with the piastres was a life struggle, as for the storms, they have been tatooed on my skin, if they call: "Oh Sea!", I reply: "It's Me!" I am the Sea, in it I was born, in it I wish to die ... do you know what it means for a person to be a sailor? I ask you: Isn't it surprising that we live on the seashore, and we do not know the Sea? that we do no write about the Sea? the fact that our Arabic literary heritage, old and new, lacks images from this world which is THE World, and whatever else, the Earth, is only a part of it ... Arab authors have avoided writing about the sea because they have feared engaging with death and with tumultous storms and raging waves.

I do not profess chivalry; adventure, yes! My ancestors were sailors, this is their occupation, the son learning the craft of his father, I worked in the port as a porter, and in the sea as a sailor. That was a difficult past of my life, this long road I've endured walking, barefoot, in fields of nails, my blood seeping into my footprints: I now look to the past, and try to contemplate it objectively, and I shiver. How, how? Where, where? the Sea is there and I am on dry land? my constant wish is for Damascus to move near the Sea, or for the Sea to move to Damascus, isn't this a beautiful dream?


³ i.e.: At the beginning of his writing career he did not intend to write about the sea; did not consciously take inspiration from the sea


I have no definite source for these quotes; they can be read in Arabic on the SyrianStoryFriends website (where no source is identified)