(Few have understood the Middle East and itâ€™s people like Lebanese-born poet and scholar, Khalil Gibran. In this, my favourite of his smaller works, Gibran explores the concept of cultural integration and social identity, relevant now more than ever in the land he once called home)
Chapter One: How I Became a Madman
You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen â€” the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives â€” I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, â€œThieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.â€
Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me. And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, â€œHe is a madman.â€ I looked up to behold him and the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. My soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, â€œBlessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.â€
Thus I became a madman. And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.
But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.