Gheith Al-Amine: 11

A photograph of a photograph of Bernard Pivot (centre) at a family gathering in the 1980s. Source: Wikipedia

1. Late letter to Bernard Pivot

Back in the day,

three princes of the word

Mohammad Choukri, Charles Bukowski and Marc-Edouard Nabe

graced your show on three separate occasions.

 

Before a live audience, along with mediocrities

you collectively scorned and bullied Choukri,

whose magnificent retaliation framed your pettiness in a flash.

You disdained and pushed Bukowski out of your set

for legendarily being himself: a celestial drunk.

And with the help of half-witted guests you demonized the young and fresh Nabe

for being brilliantly talented, sharp-tongued, with tons of integrity.

 

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Tam Hussein: The American

Christopher Anderson, Kunduz, Afghanistan, 2001. Source: magnumphotos.com

“What do you reckon that is?” Abu Imad said, tapping the scope. He looked at me, rubbing his bushy beard thoughtfully. He wanted me to make the two-meter journey to take a look.

“I’m all right here to be honest,” I said, looking at Abu Imad’s powerful frame. In my experience, God creates two types who stay on for the long haul. Either the rugby player variety or the wiry knife wielding sort, used to taking down bigger opponents. Abu Imad belonged to the former.

“Come,” he insisted, “come.”

I didn’t really feel like giving him my opinion. I didn’t want to entertain the mad shit bouncing around his head. What’s it going to be? Either some mountain goat or a hardy plant that has somehow emerged out of this cruel valley where we’d been stuck for years. What new excitement could this brother show me? We hadn’t progressed against the enemy, not because we were weak but because the commanders were arguing sometimes over strategy, sometimes over tactics, most of the time over honour and on rare occasions about God. In spite of them, we held this crag. We were mountain lions in courage and mountain goats in stubbornness.

“Come,” he pleaded, “check it.”

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