Self-Defining Memories: When Mahmoud Met “Rita”
This chapter describes the forbidden love between Darwish and Rita. Drawing on multiple sources, including the documentary film Write Down, I Am an Arab, newspaper articles, and published interviews, I provide an account of Rita’s identity, background, and career, how she and Darwish met, what brought them together, and what drove them apart. I offer an explanation as to why, following their breakup, Rita became a leitmotif in Darwish’s poetry. I highlight the power of first love as the main motive for this leitmotif, and also draw on the theory of “self-defining memories” in psychology to elucidate its function. This theory is especially pertinent here, given that Darwish’s love for Rita was unrequited and ended in heartache.