Birds of a Kind
Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau
Is it really important to cling to our lost identities?
A terrorist attack in Jerusalem puts Eitan, a young Israeli-German genetic researcher, in a coma, while his girlfriend Wahida, a Moroccan graduate student, is left to uncover his family secret that brought them to Israel in the first place. Since Eitan's parents erupted at a Passover meal when they realized Wahida was not Jewish, he has harboured a suspicion about his heritage that, if true, could change everything.
In this sweeping new drama from the prolific Wajdi Mouawad, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hits close to home as a straitlaced family is forced to confront everything they know about their identities. (From Playwrights Canada Press)
Birds of a Kind won the Governor General's Literary Award for drama.
From the book
2. The first night after the massacre
A hospital room. A nurse enters.
Nurse. Sorry. Visiting hours are over. You have to leave now. Until seven tomorrow morning.
Wahida. I'm sorry, I don't speak Hebrew.
Nurse. It's eight o'clock. You have to leave now. Until seven tomorrow morning.
Wahida. Will you call me if he wakes up in the night?
Nurse. Do we know where to reach you?
Wahida. I lost my phone. You can reach me on Eitan's phone or at the Paradise Hotel. Lions' Gate.
Nurse. You should move closer to the hospital. The army might close off the Muslim Quarter.
Wahida. Can I stay here?
Nurse. It's not allowed.
Wahida. Just tonight.
Nurse. I'm sorry. The entire floor is occupied by victims of the attack. Many of them will die tonight. The first night after an attack separates the living from the dead. You couldn't handle it. No one can. So we limit the number of people present. Otherwise, we'd fall apart, too. The days ahead are going to be difficult. You have to get some rest. You have to sleep.
Wahida. I can't sleep. I replay the scene in my head as soon as I'm alone. I close my eyes and it all comes back, the bridge, the people, the heat, the sun, customs, the body search, an endless loop of images until the explosion.
Nurse. Were you together?
Wahida. They had separated us. That's what saved me and probably saved him too. If they hadn't decided to search me, both of us probably would have died on that bus to Jordan. But when the truck attacked, I was still being interrogated. Eitan had told me, I'll wait for you, and we were separated. I didn't see it happen. I was with a woman soldier who was body-searching me when the explosion took place. A horrendous vomiting followed by the smell of burnt flesh. I had never seen so many dead bodies.
Nurse. Are you alone in Israel?
Nurse. Where does his family live?
Nurse. Have they been notified?
Wahida. I'm not the right person to contact them.
Nurse. They have to be notified. Where are you from?
Wahida. New York.
Nurse. Contact his parents. That's the first thing to do. You can't face this alone. What's your name?
Nurse. My name is Sigal. Here.
She hands Wahida a tablet.
This will help you sleep. If Eitan wakes up, I'll call you. I promise.
The nurse exits.
From Birds of a Kind by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau ©2019. Published by Playwrights Canada Press.