April 17, 2017 § 2 Comments
I was in a forest. I thought about life that day, and as the sun gushed through the leaves with the air’s current, I felt a breeze all over my jeans, my fingertips, up to my face –– it was cold in the middle of summer.
When the wind wrapped its arms around me, I remembered that there are more important things than success. I walked three more minutes after that realization to find something.
It was a hut – a cave – a little rut in between the woods. I was hungry and ought to let my stomach behave, so I knocked on the door. My parents taught me to be polite.
And an elderly man, who seemed like kind of a bore, looked below to see my small little self stare at his big feet.
“Oh no,” I thought.
This is how it all ends.
And better yet, I die hungry.
So the man with the big feet spoke, as I trembled and shook and my entire body froze. The words raced in my mind and all fell to my tongue. He invited me inside and I thought, “Well, I will die one day anyway.”
He made me food and sat me in a very comfortable chair. I froze once more, because they always make sure you’re comfortable before they eat you. He stirred the soup three times before serving it to my bowl. With every round I could feel my soul swing.
Soon after, I arrived home safely, went back to school and enrolled in university. My mother told me, “Honey, you will find yourself a handsome young man. You will live an honorable life as a housewife.” It sounded good, and what’s better than selflessly cooking and cleaning for a bunch of children, and the even bigger child that ought to support us?
It’s been 30 years since I met the man with the big feet.
The wind that gushes through me no longer does and my fingers are frail at the sight of those who love. The money and the pressure and the work at home –– I do not sleep anymore.
I wish I had stayed with the man with the big feet. At least I would have eaten my last treat.
April 17, 2017 § 2 Comments
This was written more than a year ago.
Of all of my years of living,
Which have only been a few,
I have never been as sorrowful,
As I am with you.
Your arm’s grip on my soul
Retains me enclosed behind this door,
Though you keep me whole
I would not beg for more
But perhaps it is destiny
That granted us this presence
Of an entity that keeps me,
Confined within its essence
Though plead, I did not
Nor run, have I so
But creed took its pot
And fed me to the foe
Now I do not confess guilty
Yet truth would be a lie
For I held it gently
And to it, did not defy
But must you hurt me
After years of gratitude?
Or did we reach a curfew
And a split, requested solitude?
To now, I must behold
For I, must return
This sorrow, will make me bold,
Or else, continue to yearn.
February 12, 2017 § 1 Comment
Two roads present themselves in front of me, each advertising their streetlights with banners saying, “Join us! We are more appealing!” I am conflicted, or perhaps, I want everything.
I’ve been doing better than most days, or years, really, lately. Despite performing less than my potential, and working less than I ought to, and doing less than expected, I feel better. Perhaps it may be the overshadowing attitude of apathy in my perception, or perhaps it is simply that I have accepted currently and forever that I will never know. Because I will never really know, and because everyone only thinks they know – which may be the only thing I am currently truly certain of – maybe that is the reason towards my blissful apathy.
I am not apathetic, now, in the sense that all my care for the world has vanished, or is in the slightest slowly diminishing. Instead, I now more than ever want to pursue the humanitarian career, the only one that always made sense to me since childhood – the only career I never truly understood yet felt gravitated by – for all other careers I am interested in are but hobbies. To perform on stage is a passion I hold dearly to my heart, because of many reasons which entail acting as though I believe in something, and believing in it so truly that I become another person. The idea of being someone that other people believe me to be is very appealing in its mockery of human judgment yet also frightening in its defiance of the definition of self.
The apathy I hold for this world is one that has not blurred all perception, for I still care for the needy and the helpless, as I ought to. Perhaps I feel this way because I was taught empathy since a young age, even in school, and even in my line of work and discipline. Perhaps, as well, I feel this way because even the worst people I have met feel this way. Charity is easy. Treating those close to you well is not easy.
Because I believe no one can ever be certain, and that certainty (even this ‘certainty’ of mine in this thought is flawed in its essence because perception and character change overtime) I think that now I can present myself as I wish. I feel that now I have secrets because I can choose what people see and do not see. When one tells me they love me, I tell them they do not, and even if I do not spew it out loud, I do think it. Because they do not know me, truly, expect, what they think they know. This thought has been in my head for years, but it was never clear as much as it is now, and perhaps that is because it was never true then. I never hid anything, then.
When you are bored of life you must find a way out of this boredom. You’re not doing yourself a favour by lying down, bored. Unless you’re lying down and thinking, or not thinking at all, or doing anything other than thinking “I am bored”, then you’re really not doing yourself any favours. I started perceiving life as a play, so every moment is dialogue, every day is a scene, and every period of time is an act. Life is no longer boring, and happen there be boredom,then your life is simply experimenting with the theater of the absurd.
This begs the question: who are we, if not a collection of everything we have encountered and learnt and can still recollect in our memories? A friend told me a few days ago that we only assume people have specific intentions because deep down so do we. By that logic, if I were to assume you have bad intentions, then so do I, even if I had to dig down really far to find those intentions, but so do I. However, it mustn’t always be the case, for I let go of the masochistic attitude of assuming I am inherently bad. Perhaps a simple answer to why we guard ourselves is that we no longer wish to be let down, or in my case as of now, no longer expect anything due to apathetic attitudes wherein a person’s intentions or goodwill no longer matters. Simply taking precautions is what truly matters, but it mustn’t interfere in our experiences.
I still remember, and hope to never forget, one of the first classes of Literature in high school, when my teacher said (whom I love dearly and whom may be reading this right now), that one of the most important things we should do as students of literature is to experience. So I went back to my parents that day and told them my homework was to go to the cinema and to experience life more. I have been experiencing more since then. I have been much more daring since then.
By writing this it may seem I am sharing too much of what I ought to keep private, but life is short, and I couldn’t care less. I could, actually. But I also know that I write for myself, and by reflecting or trying to understand a few matters in life, it may spark a thought or so in someone else who comes across this — that ‘someone’ will most probably be myself a few years from now, if I am still alive and decide to read this.
I hope that graduating from university marks a sense of independence I have never experienced, one that is greater than all travel and all opportunities – one that is infinitely greater than this.
The roads that nag on me are almost here. I must choose one. To sacrifice my minute life for others, or to consume as much as my soul can take?
The answer is clear.
December 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
I haven’t written something that is in article-form (for recreational purposes) in a while. I often write short anecdotes on life, or spaced sentences (poetry) or just attempts of personal reflection. Yet, I find it in me now to write something that is beyond a tweet or three, or even just a paragraph. Therefore, the following paragraphs or thoughts may not go about in an organised manner, and will have no sources.
I am in my last year of studying English Literature and Translation (at the bachelor’s level) and my appreciation for written words has decreased, quite ironically and even surprisingly. That is, of course, not to say that I appreciate celebrated international, and even timeless, works any less than before – I appreciate them a lot more – but simply saying things, or writing things in a proper manner no longer excites me or leaves me impressed. Instead, it leaves me feeling sometimes sorry for the person writing.
Anyone with proper training or just experience can write a good sentence. The degree to the fluency of the sentence differs from one writer to the other, and of course that ‘difference’ is what distinguishes a good writer from the rest. What I have been observing over the years, and I am in no position to generalise this (because my readings are limited and I do not find myself to be in such authority) is that many people often think that writing full sentences coins them as intelligent or of high intellectual status. For example, if someone were to write Facebook statuses in formal English – by not using slang terms or emojis, or even missing any full stops – then they are someone that is ‘intelligent’. Similarly, because someone simply writes a long post then they must be right. But that is another topic for another day.
Many of the general Arab community view speech that is bombarded with complex words an intellectual one, although the very purpose of language is to communicate, and if one were to aimlessly throw around complex words, then they are defying the very purpose of language. If one were to write an academic paper, or to speak to someone from their field, then they are free to use as many technical words as they wish. But using the same words to the public is useless; they would not be understood. Ironically, some of the people who agree with me on this, would also quote famous intellectuals – be it Machiavelli, Tolstoy, or Sartre – going as far as idolizing them, and presenting their views on to you as though they are divine. This, again, goes against (my view on) intellectualism. Anyone can read Tolstoy and quote him. Anyone can read a few pages of Sartre’s essays and act like a professional in the field of existentialism – going for sometimes hours – and passionately defending what they believe to be their view, despite it being Sartre’s views.
The great thing about ‘intellectual’ conversations – compared to others – is that they jump the further step into questioning and sharing the information at hand. To say, “I have read about this enough to speak of it” or “I have a degree” and even “I interviewed the best” is hypocritical. It is all well and good to say this – of course a degree offers one with a lot of authority on the matter – yet denouncing the second party’s opinion or ideas – given that the topic is not scientific (although science is based on questioning everything) – defies the very purpose of the conversation, given that the party’s intention is to learn and share valuable information rather than debate out of the ‘intellectual’ conversation. The hypocritical stance taken here by the pseudo-intellectual is speaking of values (that are actually others’) that they do not act upon.
Any student who speaks well, or writes in proper English, or memorises a few words from the dictionary and reads a book about Plato can win a debating competition. However, to have a genuine conversation that goes two-ways (a student to student rather than a teacher to student) must be one where both parties remain humble. Simply put, acting ‘civilised’ by speaking formally does not mean one is actually more civilised than the other. An easy example, which is common amongst Arabs, is that speaking English in a ‘local’ American or British accent often classifies this person as more educated than the one who speaks in an Egyptian or Jordanian accent –or even no English at all– although this is not the case.
The pseudo-intellectual say they speak for the people whilst covering themselves with a coat of fancy words to sound authentic. Yet, ‘actual’ leaders use simple and emotional speech to reach out to the masses. One of the situations that made me feel ‘sorry’ for someone is when Umm Kulthoum and Abdel Halim were mentioned – celebrated Egyptian singers as well as two of the “Great Four” – and the person looked at me and condescendingly said, “Oh, you probably don’t listen to them.” For some unspoken reason, it is a shared view amongst Egyptians that those who listen to dead artists have ‘high’ taste in music, and are therefore considered ‘classy’. Don’t take me wrong, my father and I discuss and rejoice in Abdel Wahab’s music at least once a week. But simply because I enjoy listening to an already celebrated artist, or in some cases an underground artist, does not mean that I am more ‘classy’ or even smarter than someone else. To enjoy going to galleries and to appreciate art and paintings does not mean that I am more deserving of respect than someone else. To enjoy certain mediums of entertainment does not mean I am better; it is simply a preference.
Perhaps this is the point of this ‘article’ or these paragraphs: it is that simply doing things that are viewed as intellectual does not make one an intellectual. I obviously, as aforementioned, do not have the authority to say who and who is not an intellectual, yet the purpose of this writing is not to define what an intellectual is, rather what an intellectual is not. It is noble to read, and speak well, yet the purpose of these readings and speech must be genuine (if even to defeat an enemy) rather than to simply ‘show off’, or act as an entrance ticket to a certain ‘type’ of group that is scarce in the community. I’d even go as far as terming the pseudo-intellectuals as the nouveau riche of the intellectual community. Simply put, it must be quite tough to abstain from ‘bad’ art because it does not fit into someone’s perception of how an intellectual must act and be.
December 12, 2016 § Leave a comment
To what extent can I participate in my days
Now, fully aware, that what we once were
Can never be again?
Your promise to another has been announced,
So to you I can no longer speak —
Not whisper to at the dark of night,
As we would under the street bulbs.
The news of your promise,
Battled me as waves on the shore,
Loudly, emptying every life in me remained.
The leaks hold my inner-self,
Unworthy of your love, desiring the unattainable.
How my expectations were heaps of mountains,
Of your endeavours as a brave soldier,
Instead, the steady land was of your choosing,
Picked for a woman my sea does not harbour.
Now a speech to you is sin, unmoral and frowned upon
For a woman who breaks the love of two,
Is no longer a woman.
Death’s brother snatched you from my arms,
To a place further than our memories.
I can hear your voice echo as I fly behind,
But now I must exist, betrayed of love,
Where birds do not chirp,
And you pour sweet metaphors to her ears
–An act we found deceitful in the past–
But now I want your warmth against my mourning body,
For soon I might write my last words;
If I threaten death, would you visit me?
Should this poem reach you,
Must you know: I have never loved a man,
As purely as I loved you.
I have never loved a man,
As purely as I loved you.
October 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
When happiness meets me in every window
On the walls of this hallway
How can I participate in a meaningless
Life when blind bliss looks me in the eye,
For now —
Paintings are the atmosphere,
And flowers grow on my shirt;
The paper is silk,
And this instrument’s my brush
So holy and divine,
Arabia’s weapon: rhymed verse,
Beautiful women, and wine
––the building blocks of religion
The father of possibility,
And all that is undone
Happiness that is galaxies and fantasies,
This happiness, may it remain,
Closer than my heart to my blood,
And my thoughts to consciousness
Than knowledge in quotes,
And information in books
May my prayers be answered,
May happiness fancy me still
In this forest I would drink from the lake,
Carry air from a circus on my backpack
And go hiking where my body cannot climb
— be a master of crimes,
Done cunningly, wittingly, without a trace
I am a saint who sins to retain my sanity
Because after-all, you cannot be happy
Without sacrificing a few flowers
Which would’ve grew on your grave.
September 16, 2016 § 1 Comment
black glasses covering dark brown eyes,
curly hair reaching beneath your ear,
we exchange glances
like we’ve met before,
and speak silently in the space between us,
I see you seeing me,
feeling all jumpy and jittery
and when you glance away,
it becomes my turn to look your way:
wishing and hoping
that you know I can see you too.
you arrive with your coffee,
as I have before you
wondering: did you order the cappuccino too?
–size small with a water bottle
because airport prices are always so high–
or did you order extra espresso
to stay awake for the long flight?
I wonder if you see me
as I write to you now,
I hope you do,
because I’m slipping this note to you.