Dialogue with a Well - Part I
by
Haashim Bu al-KhaTTabiya

In Bedouin communities, young men and women meet by the local well to socialize. They may exchange "Sowb khaleel," which is a deadly combination of directed looks, smiles, and tremendous love poems! As a young Bedouin, our poet frequented a well called "Beer J'aida," west of Tubrug, but was separated from it in 1911, the year of the Italian invasion.

Si Hashim returned to the well in 1942, and found the centerpiece of his love memories in a dilapidated condition, dried up and taken over by owls. He composed this famous poetic dialogue, in which he tried hopelessly to get the well to tell of the good old days. In return, the stubborn well yielded little to the old man but somber advice: Give up on the memories of youth and concentrate on the reality of old age. The exchange heated up, the poet got the last say, and then left. Five months later, he returned and found the well in excellent shape. He wrote a few more exchanges, but this time around the well had the advantage and delivered a knockout reminder of the poet's nearing end.

[Source: SalaH Eddeen M. Jibreel, tajreedet Habeeb , 2nd edition, (Dar Alkitab Alleeby, Benghazi, Libya, 1995) pp. 144-151.]

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Swaal By Haashim Bu al-KhaTTabiya- 1

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