What's making her time easy?
She says (her, whose faced shined like a moon):
I want to live
However, unlike you,
I did not know how the weather was like,
And I must confess
I did not mind the time as much as I should have
I ask her, while we walk softly, walking on downhill roads at the end of the evening, going also downhill from the strange and bitter heights of both our histories. The light wind that brushed our faces has always a strange feeling at the end of the day, a feeling of the end, that time had passed. This air feels like endings, that perhaps it is the last time, and that all the flowery walks, no matter how sweet the spring was, will end, and that delicate hands, no matter how beautiful they are, cannot hold the river. I ask her, minding time as I think of time, and not minding the flowers as I think of the flowers. I envy those, like her, who do not mind the time, nor the breeze sneaking under light clothes, nor the light blue of the evening that overcomes the golden hues of the sunset. Nothing more than the light wind being light wind, and the flowers being nice decorations on the heads of teenage girls, and on the shirts of the young boys of the villages.
I envy those who forget time, and those who don't mind the fading of the early summer days, while the dark blue of the evening slowly takes over, everyday at the same time.
What is Leila doing now?
Is she forgetting her dates?
What is she doing now?
What's making her time easy?
I ask her - and names have always bewildered me- what her name is, and how can she be so light (this lightness that does not resemble me), light like the heads of small trees, — free from the idleness of summer days spent with lovers, free from the roofs of houses and small shops and little toy stores. I ask her about the light wind and flowers and the evening, I ask, how can we forget our dates? All the time? And how can we stop the river as soon as our hands touch it? How can we forget like these spring walks at the end of the day, they end because the days end? I ask her all of that, fearing that my -not so- delicate thread of thoughts might become too long and tiring, longer -and more tiring for sure- than the soft and beautiful thread of spring walks.
- Bangla. She said,
and I will tell you about time. I think I have only a few memories with time, and I will tell you straight away…. And maybe you felt that already, and maybe this is why you asked… that I don't think much of time. I do indeed, sometimes, think about the hands that stop the river and the flowers that remain as flowers in the hair of young girls, I will tell you a thing or two maybe! She added.
1 - Flowers don't wither on the surface of the water
- I was staring, as if I was looking at myself from afar. Once I turned my face to see myself, from the door of our house where I was sitting, I saw that I laid down, and that my body was now floating on the river. Our house became the river, and I felt the water under the back of my knees. All the eyes were floating about my face that shined, and I was lifting my face so it doesn't go under the water. I was looking at the leaves of trees above the river, they were lightly moving as if they were birds. The water was shining next to me, I swear to you Hussein, and all the eyes were floating then drowning little by little.
My face was still floating, shining, and the trees moved by the light wind of the spring started shedding some flowers, one of the flowers landed on the palm of my hand. When I moved my sight away from the heads of the trees to look at the flowers, I realized that all the eyes had drowned, and that nothing remained, on the surface of the water, except the little flowers that floated, and me, flowing still, alone.
The villagers said, however, that on this day, they all came to see the flowers on the river, from all the villages around, they all came to see the shining face. They said that people left their cars in the streets and that the villages were wrapped in a strange silence. They said this silence was deep like water, and that the sound of the river sneaked into all the houses that were silent like the day, and that the flowers, for once, did not wither on the surface of the water.
2 - "Al-Andalus Juice”
- We were three, and we were walking, like you and I are walking now Hussein, and the light wind brushing the beautiful faces carried an age that would not fade. We wanted to free ourselves from the heat that was carried by the summer’s end, and the dates that we forgot, and our histories and the houses full of the river, and the boys jumping with their bodies in it. We were three, friends, walking like we would walk, in villages, -familiar but we didn't know- that looked like our village, and had similar names to ours, similar people, and similar shops and little toy stores, with little lamps glimmering at the end of the day.
His name was Nakhle. He was our age and he invited us to his father’s shop. We liked how kind he was, and we liked the small flowers. He said that it was his idea to hang them over the shop’s sign. “Al-Andalus Juice”, the sign of the shop read in Arabic, written in a kufic font. It looked like these fonts that came with the beginning of the home computer, when we were young. Above the sign were these plastic followers that he hung, they would never wither.
- Whats that? Fanny said, while she was pointing her finger to one of the juices showing in the big image that was in the shop. The colors of the image had become - with time- all of one hue, a light blue that made all the juices in it look the same. Light blue like the end of the day.
- This one has strawberries and guavas and some nuts, he replied while Fanny looked at the other juices.
- Does the name “Freemoza” mean anything?
- No it's just a juice that my dad named, he had a juice shop in kuwait before this one, they used to give juices names like this.
- And this one?
- This one is “Tahito”
- Whats the difference between “Tahito” and “Freemoza”? Fanny asked but she couldn’t hold her laughter. He laughed as well
- I don't know, to be honest. He laughed again, while looking at the image, trying to decipher the differences between both juices, that looked as if they were one. Ahh, this one has apple pieces in it, it is like the “Freemoza” but with some apples, I think.
We were moving our fingers on the big back-lit image, and we were laughing, him too, while telling us about every one of the juices.
I put my finger on one of the juices, it was a bit different than the rest, and had a weird name. -not that the other names were not weird, but this was weird in a different way, or maybe I thought so at the time- I don't know.
"Abd al Rahman the First’s Cocktail”, this was written under the image of a cup of juice, and it had faded like the other images, and the writings were almost invisible.
- What is this? Who’s Abd Al Rahman? Is it your father? I asked
- No, my dad’s name is Ali, this is Abd Al Rahman the First, the king of Andalusia!
- Aaah this is why your shop is called “Al-Andalus”
- Yea, also because this man lived outside of time. This is why my dad called me Nakhle, because he liked his story.
- What do you mean he lived outside of time? Léa, the third of us three asked.
2 bis - Abd Al Rahman lived outside of time for 30 years
-Abd al-Rahman stopped when he felt the water on his hands, while crossing the Euphrates. He stopped like two who are parting ways, as if those chasing him could not reach him in the dark of the night, as if the light wind that brushed his beautiful face carried an age that would not fade.
Nothing changes, Abd al-Rahman, but the air of night moving the leaves. The river stands on your hands like a song passing into the night.
Abd al-Rahman had not noticed the time. Time and the river are conjoined, in you, they are unmoving. Like an apple blooms in the clarity of night, the river flowers in your exhausted hands, unwithering.
For 30 years (though he was not counting), he longed for the smiling eyes of siblings, the house, and its palms rising up at the last shining of dusk. He had not noticed the time. At dusk that day, when he saw his palm tree.
You thought that the age was as distant as the time that the palm had not grown – as if you two were still children. This age passes far from your eyelids, the palm of sadness grows into bloom. Time flows through your hands, it betrayed you Abd al-Rahman – once he glances at what will kill him, he realizes he has become old.
- Nakhle told us this story, and we saw a few tears in his eyes. We realized, us three, that Nakhle had repeated this story a million times, and that he must have narrated in this very literary way, everytime, as if it was the story of his life.
We did not know what “Abd al Rahman the first’s Cocktail” was made of. The image that had completely faded did not help us either. We were also too shy to ask Nakhle, whom’s tears were flowing now, smiling timidly while looking at us. We preferred to ask him for a small bottle of juice, one of those pre-prepared ones, that juice shop owners, like Nakhle and his dad usually prepare in the morning, and display in the fridge at the shop. A small bottle with a red and yellow juice, we bought it, then said bye to Nakhle, with promises, and hopes that we will all see each other again soon. We went out of the shop, to realize that the day was over, and that the night had sneakily covered the small village.
3 - What came unto you, oh heart?
That you are now in love again
- I was with my sister, in the narrow corridor of our house in Chiah, you don't know this apartment do you? You never visited us there I think. The long corridor connected the salon with the end of the house where the bathroom was. On the other side of the corridor - let’s say you are standing in front of the bathroom next to the bedrooms and looking towards the salon-, you can see the balcony as well. That day, my mom, my dad, my third sister and my grandmother were all on the balcony. We wouldn't know, -my sister and I- what they were talking about, we were busy going back and forth between our room and the bathroom, getting dressed and getting ready. We did not know what they talked about that day, on the balcony, at the end of the day, with the usual blue hues of the evening, and we did not hear the soft songs that were coming from the little street where our building is. The usual songs of the beginning of the evening, coming from the cars that roam the street, and the boys and girls in them, smiling at other boys and girls, asking them to come with them to the parties. We couldn’t know the time, except when we saw from the balcony, the last flashes of daylight, and the darkness that started to fall slowly.
We were almost ready, we just had to do our hair, me and her, like we usually did, in the rare times we went to the neighborhood parties. Short hair was trending at the time, and we used to put on a lot of hair gel. She would do my hair and I would do hers, in front of the small bathroom mirror, with all the blue flowery tiles around it. My sister noticed that the jar of Gel was empty, and that it was late, and that we were late. They said that the singer will begin the song around 8, right after the sunset, but we saw from the small bathroom window that the sun had set indeed, and we didn’t want to miss it. We also realized that it was too late to go to the shop and get another jar of Gel, since all the shop owners in our neighborhood must have been closed by now, and all the shop owners must have left to see the singer. The singer was one of those singers that you would close your shop to go see, or maybe our neighborhood was just too small, and nothing happens there. Nothing more than the boys and girls driving in their cars, and the neighbors sitting, like our parents, on the balconies everyday. I don't know. I think our neighborhood was just too small because it was not the kind of singer whose picture would be hung in the rooms of young boys and girls. Anyway, we realized that without the gel, we couldn’t go out. We looked at our hair in the mirror and we both laughed.
-We sit on the balcony then, it's late anyways. I said, while we were still laughing.
-No no, we sit on the balcony everyday! I wanna see the singer
-Wait. We can put Shampoo
-Shampoo, its like gel, it's the same
We stood in the last row, with all of those who came in late. The singer was in the middle of the song, always, as if we had not seen the beginning, and the end was not coming. We arrived in the middle, with all those who came late. It seemed like no one had seen the singer start, neither the young boys and girls in cars, nor the shop owners who closed their shops, nor my sister and I. We had forgotten our funny hair, reeking of shampoo. We could almost swear that this song had no time, that it did not begin and did not end, and we were almost certain that the sound reached our house, and all the houses, even the ones that were far, and their balconies.
This is how I forget the time, and my dates, Bangla said to me, after she finished telling me her stories. When I felt the light wind brushing both our faces, I realized that we must have walked for an hour, at least, and that the blue hues, that come at the end of the day -and that don't usually last for more than a few minutes- were still there, above the light trees.