Tomorrow I’ll be heading up to Haifa to interview Salman Natour, author of Memory Talked to Me and Walked Away (among many, many others).
As I revisit his works, I am struck by the beauty, tragedy and symbolism in the simplest of items and the most complex of characters.
Keys, for example, feature in the tale, Sheikh Abbas:
No other inanimate object retains emotion as strongly as keys do. Fingerprints are engraved on them as if the laws of wear and tear do not apply. We can identify hidden traces of sensations, the feelings of people who carried the keys before they were displaced – ebbs and flows, as on an ECG machine recording anger, sadness, joy and serenity.
These keys have inspired countless songs and legends. Legends woven from lost keys, keys left behind, stranded in open gates and doors. Rust-eaten, they await the return of bearers who believed they were only leaving for a few days. But the days grew longer, stretching into weeks, months and years. They never returned to their homes.
Pieces of metal become bearers of memory, emotions and symbols of loss; we discuss the keys, but Natour brings them to life, with the pain that goes with their past and present.
And that’s just keys.
There’s still the post-identity question and the importance of documentation and…