In December 10 2005, Robert Fisk was in Dubai for the signing of his book ‘The Great War For Civilization’ in the Jashanmal bookstore in Emirates Mall, the mall with the indoor ski slopes. I didn’t want to miss him in the same way I had missed Paulo Coelho, so this time I left my children with a babysitter and drove with my husband to meet him.
I was surprised to find the event so well organized. The book signing was taking place before his talk. Once again, there was a long line but in half an hour I found myself face to face with my mentor. I first read Robert Fisk’s book ‘Pity The Nation’ when one of my students got it for me from London decades ago. I loved his style, his honesty, his outspokenness.
“Ah Armenian!” he said reading my name. I nodded. “I have a chapter in my book about the Armenian genocide, the first holocaust of the century.”
“We are Armenians from Anjar, Lebanon,” my husband jumped in.
“Oh, Anjar, I was there ten days ago. I wrote an article about it last week for the Independent. I have also written about it in the chapter I told you about.”
I had brought my copy of ‘Pity The Nation’ which he autographed for me along with his new book. Then I gave him a copy of my first book The Lost I, not signed of course, for who was I to autograph a book to Robert Fisk? He was glad to receive it and he promised to read it on the plane the next day on his way back home to Beirut. I couldn’t ask how I could contact him afterwards. I was even too shy to ask to take a picture with him and this is what I ended up with.
A year later, in December 19 2006, at an event at McGill University I met Robert Fisk again. A little before the start of the event I found him sitting alone at a desk inside the auditorium in Leacock, writing. I approached him and mentioned that we had met in Dubai a year ago at Emirates Mall. He told me how he’d been at the same place a month ago and that this time, the event had been more successful with twice the audience. When he looked down at his notes I left to take my seat. I came so close to asking him about the book that I had given him a year ago, The Lost I, which he had promised to read, but I couldn’t. I didn’t even mention my name. Why? Was it because I was afraid to hear what he was going to say about it? His opinion mattered to me so much and yet I couldn’t bring myself to utter a word. To this day I wonder what possible answer he might have given me. To this day I wonder, if ever I meet him again…