Obituary: Mohamed El-Bisatie
Death has its time
The first words my wife uttered to me this morning were: "I'm sorry to tell you I have bad news for you today."
She didn't need to say anything more to me than that, at once I instinctively knew what that "bad news" was. A friend of mine had passed away and I didn't need to be told who that friend was. After a long illness my writer friend, Mohamed El-Bisatie, had been spared more suffering in his bed of sickness. I would no longer have the pleasure of having one of his caustic replies to my occasional enquiries by phone as to how he was. Of course he knew that I knew that he was on his death bed, but he was the last person to answer an enquiry about his health with anything but a ribald joke.
I have given this article the title of one of his short stories, a story that I had included in the volume I had entitled A last Glass of Tea and other stories. In the short introduction I had written to that volume I had said of him that "he writes stories that are universal in their appeal".
Mohamed El-Bisatie is no longer with us but his work will remain to be read by generations of readers. His first volume of stories was published as long ago as 1968 and it was then that I first became aware of the genius who would now be giving his talent to the short story. In the introduction to the first volume of stories I produced in English I wrote that "the life events of these stories is equally matter-of-fact where death has a part".
Mohamed was a writer who was not afraid to treat death as an inevitable part of life. My thoughts for him will continue; also my grief at the loss of a much valued friend. It is a big loss for Egypt and the Arab world.