The Guardian: Something happens to us around the age of five, six or seven, when our sense of ourself contracts, becomes more specific, and we realise that besides being part of a family and a society, there is something in us that belongs to us alone. This for me happened in Tripoli, by the Libyan Mediterranean Sea. I remember how consoling and eventful living beside it was; how it changed, and how the companionship of its alterations accompanied me. Our city changed. People got married and divorced. But neither births nor deaths altered it. The sea was untouched. Constant in its variety. Decadent in its obliviousness.Part of the wonder I felt was that the waters I swam in, that filled my ears and mouth and open eyes, were the same waters that touched distant shores, places such as Cyprus and Crete, Barcelona and Sanremo, Gaza and Marseille. Or nearby places, such as Alexandria, which, for my family, held mythical status. It was where my maternal grandmother was born and both sides of my family lived for a time when, after resisting Benito Mussolini’s occupation, they moved to neighbouring Egypt. Such proximities filled me with wonder, but also the practical knowledge that the world existed all at once: that then was now, and there was here, and that all divisions, both of time and space, were, perhaps like all declarations of belonging, approximate. Books, regardless of their subject, are often motored by a concern with bridging the distances, with disparate situations, with difference, with dissimilar states of being, with characters who stand poles apart.
Nayeemul Islam khan
1327 Tejgaon Industrial Area (3rd Floor), Dhaka-1208