The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa
The greatest book I’ve ever been given.
An hour and a half before midnight Fayez was born. When the nurse called congratulations I felt him, Fayez, falling upon my shoulders, and a for a few moments I was seized by a feeling akin to dizziness. Amid the clamour of sensations that were taking hold of me, I felt I was more closely linked to the land upon which I walk. It was as if his fall upon my shoulders had planted me deep in the earth.
In the morning, the nurse brought him and showed him to me from behind the glass. He seemed a stupid red piece of flesh; closed-eyed, open-mouthed, and trembling palms: eyes that have much to see, a mouth that must chew for a long time, and two palms-are they for giving or receiving, or both?
The doctor who was standing beside me said:
- How do you feel?
- I feel nothing……
- Nothing at all?
It was as if I was saying to myself; there is time for millions of feelings, time for anger, joy, surprise, disappointment, happiness, misery, laughter, sadness, love, hate, waiting and boredom - millions of moments abundantly full of all the contradictions found on this earth.
In the other room is his mother lying on the bed. She has forgotten all the pains she had to bear for his birth; she has forgotten all the tears she shed during the last twenty hours; she has forgotten everything…It is as if this new love, which filled her suddenly when they told her she had given birth, this overflowing love that no human being can have for another except the mother for her child - it is as if this love has washed everything away with a mythical hand.
Between them - he in the hands of the nurse behind the glass pane, and she in her bed unable to walk to see him with me - I was standing, washed in love and fear, limpid as a piece of glass. There is nothing occupying my thoughts or interests; there is just a man, like millions of other men who do not know the reality of the future - just a small incapable man who stands confronting the unknown which surrounds him.
When the nurse put him back to sleep I began walking back to my wife’s room, but as soon as I heard the sound of my steps I returned to my own world; a world encircled with something called real love, a love without commitment or punishment, a love for its own sake, without compensation, without an alternative, price or fear, serene love that I have never felt before - never; a love for that child that was born from me, because of me and for me. Its cost was my love for her, and her love for me.
While leaving your mother’s room I also knew the meaning of worry - the load that lies heavy on the shoulders of men because it springs from within, from deep within and which gives live that noble motive which a man who does not know the meaning of an inner burden lacks…
Ghassan Kanafani, cited from his personal diary