English, RMW Festival 2013

Asmaa Azaizeh introduces Rasha Hilwi

Hilwi is a writer, journalist and blogger, covering arts & culture, politics, and youth issues. Her reports are published in well known Arab newspapers. Also, she is an editorial board member of a cultural and political website Qadita.net. Rasha Hilwi became a member of the Arab Women Bloggers Group, organized by Dansk PEN- International – a world association of Writers.
Her blogs were translated into English, Spanish, Greek, Indonesian, Polish, and Bulgarian.

In a post on her blog, Zaghroda (which means “ululations”), Rasha writes:

Palestine: Planning a Virtual Funeral

Suddenly you feel that death has been hovering in this sky, even though it never really left it. Not just death, but also “that disease”, as it’s known. (My friend even calls his star sign “that sign”.) That is, cancer.
And whenever death arrives, with its many reasons, I ask myself, “Why am I surprised?” Then I value life anew – for a few days.
Anyway, that’s not important…
A while ago I decided to write my will.
By the way, I don’t mean to be pessimistic by doing so. Death is something natural. That’s at least what I believe. And because it’s natural I am writing about it. As my grandmother says, or your grandmothers say, “No one knows what tomorrow will bring!”
A few months ago I returned from Cairo. Two days after I came back I lost a dear friend; he departed for a faraway place, unknown to all who read these lines… I hope!
I won’t make this a long story for you all. However, I have some questions relating to death and its rituals. When I leave tomorrow for that unknown, faraway place, my funeral will naturally be held in Akka – I have no other home – so says my father. I will certainly be buried there. Right?
But the idea tortures me that I will die and the [Israeli] occupation will still be sitting on my heart! How will my friends from Ramallah, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Amman, Tunisia, Morocco, Sana’a, Baghdad and Tripoli come to say their final goodbye?
Do you think I can put in my will that permits should be issued for my friends in Ramallah to come and say farewell to my coffin? What a horrible idea: a permit being issued by the occupation authorities in order for my friends to see me when I’m dead! But maybe it would be their chance to visit Akka, in exchange for saying farewell to me…
But what about my dear friends in Cairo, Beirut and Amman?
Is it possible – for example – for my will to state that my body should be burnt and that a little of my ashes should be sent to my friends in those places? And that a musical and literary gathering should be held rather than a conventional funeral? Is it possible for my funeral to be relayed by video conference? Or even by Skype? What’s wrong with Skype? At least it’s free. That way there would be a direct broadcast of my funeral from Akka to Beirut, Cairo, Amman, Tunis, Ramallah and Gaza!
But why complicate things? Maybe I can state in my will that my coffin should be carried to them. I think the permission for a dead person to cross the border will be easier [than for the living]. Most importantly, it wouldn’t require a visa. That way I would be able to see Beirut. Who knows? Perhaps I will get to see it then.