One Day


The number hit her as she opened her eyes. The warm October sun filtering through the curtains gave her a sense of relief as she breathed out in anticipation of the unknown. It’s the end of an era.

From the bathroom came light noises of splashing and gurgling. She grabbed her cell phone to check the time, it was ten minutes to eight, her husband had apparently overslept.

Perhaps he’s not planning on going to work at all today. She thought.

Trying to keep her expectations in check, she shook that idea off. After all, it wasn’t the first time he ran late. No expectations, no disappointments, She reminded herself reluctantly.

The bathroom’s door flung open as her husband hurried out in a semi-panic state. “Second time this week.” He said as he went around the room with desperate attempts at multi-tasking. “Perhaps if traffic isn’t so bad I can still make it on time.”

She stared at him with half-closed eyelids as he sat on the edge of the bed fumbling with a sock. “Damn thing!” He uttered under his breath. Catching her sleepy smile with the corner of his eye.

“I’m sorry. Good morning, honey.”

“Good morning. Looks like a bad hair day already.”

Taking things too literally as he always did, he reached a hand and stroked his black mop of hair. She felt inwardly ashamed knowing she was fishing for a compliment, one that never came.

How could it be a bad day when you were born on it? She could think of a hundred other things he could say that would brighten up her day, none of them included “dandruff” and “stupid barber”, like what she got.

He mumbled on about his boss, meetings and parking spaces. A moment of silence lingered in the air as he leaned in to kiss her forehead, smelling of the cardamom scented toothpaste she hated, a fact he never fails to forget.

As he left the room, her eyes transfixed on the door, waiting for him to come back. To remember. To almost forget. The sound of his car’s ignition pulled her out of her wishful thinking.

Having your morning coffee alone on your 30th birthday must be one of the saddest things for a woman, she thought as she sat in the kitchen, half awake, sipping at a cup of Turkish coffee and scrolling down her Facebook timeline. A post about a refugee who had lost her son in the sea sent pangs of guilt through her chest. She closed the application immediately, not to be opened again for the rest of that day. Just for today, she thought, I am the center of my own universe.

She looked at the clock on her phone again. It’s still early, perhaps he will call once he has a chance to catch his breath. She reasoned. It’s just a matter of time – or timing- she was positive. He couldn’t forget her birthday, that would be preposterous; not just because it was only their second year of marriage, but also because he had forgotten it last year. As much as she resented it, and resented him for it and for not even trying to make it up for her, she cut him some slack on account of his career shift. It wasn’t an excuse, but it was at least a reason.

She pulled herself up from the chair sluggishly to wash some dishes from last night as she contemplated what to do for the rest of the day. It was her first day off in months and she felt like she earned it. No chores today, that was the number one rule, soon to be broken by the heap of laundry needing to be stuffed in the washing machine, and the aftermath of her husband’s daily shaving job on the bathroom sink.

Several calls came in from some friends, her expatriate sister and her parents. Nobody offered to take her out as they all assumed she’d have other plans. She had already hidden her birth date on Facebook to avoid the influx of birthday wishes by those who didn’t matter. She left the house at around noon, stopped by a small restaurant for a snack and a cup of tea before proceeding to her manicure appointment, and then did some window shopping. This was the height of indulgence for her.

A couple of things caught her eye, but she refrained from buying anything. A pair of running shoes were the hardest to resist, a bit too expensive but surely what she needed for her daily walk. The ones she had were too worn out, as signaled by the pain in her back. But she refrained again, thinking of the Rolex she’d been saving up to buy as his birthday was in 3 months and she wanted to get him something nice. She’s never seen a man with so much love for watches and such a lack of punctuality.

Then as if summoned by some telepathic power, his name flashed on her phone’s screen. Finally…

– Hello?

– Yes, hi. Sorry I left in so much hurry today I totally forgot to tell you I won’t be home by supper today. I’ll be late a couple of hours so I thought I’ll just grab a bite at work.

She paused for a moment.

– Hello?

– No problem, I wasn’t planning on cooking today anyway. I figured I’d make it a day off from everything.

– Oh, great then. See you tonight. Love you.

– Love you too.

She felt the blood boiling up to her face as she hung up. She didn’t know whether she was more angry he still didn’t remember it was her birthday, or because he didn’t bother to ask why she was taking the day off. How could he be so apathetic? Unless…

Her face lit up. Perhaps he’s being slick for a change. The idea appealed to her, she didn’t make any effort at suppressing it. She felt a new bolt of energy surging through her, and she found herself heading back home.

She put the laundry out to dry, watched a political talk show where guests hurled insults at each other, folded the laundry while watching a movie about a whale that needed to be rescued and sent back to the ocean and talked on the phone with her cousin who wanted to welcome her to the 30’s club.

She looked at the clock on the wall, it was around 6. He must be home soon. She opened her closet and picked out a dark blue satin dress. Admiring her figure in the mirror as she tried it on, she thought that cutting down on carbs for the past two weeks had done her good. The last thing she wanted as he started her fourth decade is a dress that didn’t fit.

She opened her jewelry box and put on a silver necklace with a butterfly pendant, which matched her silver high heels. She thought if he wanted to take her out, she’d be fresh and ready, if not, there’s no reason she shouldn’t look good on her birthday.

It was almost 8 and he hadn’t shown up yet. She leafed through a book to pass the time, and just when she was about to call him, the phone rang.

– Hey, sweetheart, I’m so sorry I got caught up at work.

– No problem. When will you be home?

– Actually I just remembered tonight is the Classico and the guys are all going to watch the game at a coffee shop near work.

She didn’t say anything.

– But of course I could just come home.

– No. She said quietly. It’s okay. I think I’ll just go to sleep early tonight anyway.

– You’re the best wife in the world! It would be two hours tops, I promise.

– Take your time.

– I love you.

– … Take care.


She changed into her pajamas, made herself a cup of tea and sat to watch an episode of some crime drama that gave her the chills. Suddenly her phone vibrated with a text message that had the same effect.


Thoughtful bag of crap. She thought as she deleted the message from her ex and tossed the phone as far away from her as possible.

She flipped through channels for what seemed like an eternity, switching between heart-wrenching global news, mind-numbing celebrity news and sitcoms that didn’t make her laugh. Sometime around 10 she heard his key turn in the lock.

– I thought you’d be asleep.

– Well, it turned out I wasn’t sleepy after all.

– Good for you. I’m exhausted. It was a long day.

She didn’t say anything.

– Real Madrid won. 2 to 1.

– Congratulations.

He nodded. She realized he wasn’t on their side anyway. Just as he was about to head to the bedroom, he turned around and faced her.

– Aren’t you coming to bed?

– I think I’ll stay up for a while. You go get some rest.

He nodded again and disappeared in the corridor. She could hear him splashing and gurgling in the bathroom as she sat in the silence of the living room, mute and motionless like a dusty sculpture in an abandoned ruin site.

The sound of his snoring pulled her back to reality. Dragging her now numb feet, she went into the bathroom to brush her teeth, but there was only the cardamom toothpaste, which she grabbed and threw in the waste basket. With a heavy head, she slipped under the blanket beside him. Normally, she wouldn’t have a problem with his snoring, but tonight she desperately wished for a pair of earplugs. She turned to the other side, facing away from him, trying to tune him out. He was getting farther and farther away, finally falling out of earshot as she drowned in her own thoughts. The last idea on her mind before she sailed away into deep sleep was that, come tomorrow, she’s going to take that money she’s been saving up, and she’ll go get herself those running shoes.

عن الإيمان والإلحاد وما بينهما

تنبيه: هذا البوست قد يجرح المشاعر الدينية أو اللادينية لدى البعض، إذا إنت حساس لا تكمل قراءة.0

المؤمنين أنواع، واحد انولد لقى حاله مؤمن فضل مؤمن لأنه هيك أهله علموه، وواحد بحث ودور وسأل وصار أو ضل مؤمن. والملحدين أنواع كمان، فيه ملحد عن علم ودراسة، يعني بتلاقيه قرأ كتب وقارن أديان وتفكر وفي الآخر عقله وصله إنه ما في إله والكون انخلق صدفة وما إلى ذلك. هذا لنوع ممكن تناقشه وممكن تتعلم منه وممكن تحترم عقله ولو اختلفت معاه في أمور جذرية، وبكون عندك أمل إنه يغير رأيه برضه عن علم ودراسة.0

وفي نوع آخر ملحد لأنه مش قادر يطلع من عقلية الصف الأول وسبيس تون. كيف يعني؟ يعني هو ملحد لأنه بشوف مصايب وكوارث فبستنتج إنه ما دام في أشياء كتير سيئة بتصير بالكون معناته ما في حدا داير باله عليه، يعني فش رب. بالنسبة لهذا النوع، الكون عبارة عن روضة والبشر أطفال والرب هو المس اللي بتراقب كل شي وبتعاقب الطفل المشاغب وبتكافئ الطفل الشاطر وبتتحاسب على أي شي بصير في الروضة لأنها المشرفة الراشدة الوحيدة على أطفال قاصرين. هاد النوع صعب تناقشه، وغالباً ما بكون ملحد أصلاً، هو مؤمن عنده غضب مش عارف كيف يتعامل معاه.0

لنواجه الحقائق، مؤمنين وملحدين. الحوادث بتصير في المساجد ةالأماكن المقدسة زي ما بتصير في المراقص وبيوت الدعارة والخمارات. الكوارث بتصير في الدول الظالمة زي ما بتصير في الدول العادلة. الأمراض بتصيب الأغنياء والفقراء، الطيبين والعاطلين، الكبار والصغار.0

هلأ إذا إنت ملحد، ما بقدر أساعدك. ممكن تفسر الموضوع زي ما بدك. ممكن تعتبر الحياة عبثية وكل شي بصير عشوائي وبدون معنى والموضوع سايب. وممكن تفسر الموضوع بطريقة أقل سوداوية، ما بعرف، إنت حر.0

أما إذا كنت مؤمن، فإنت أمام خيارين: إما إنك بتآمن برب عادل وله حكمة قد لا تراها ويمكن تموت وإنت مش عارفها، لكنك مآمن فيها، وإما إنك بتآمن إنه في إله بس هو ظالم ومتجبر وطائش، يعني شغل أساطير يونانية، إله بنكهة بشرية، يسري عليه ما يسري على البشر من مشاعر وحب للسلطة، وتسري عليه قوانين المادة والكون. وهذا، لا مؤاخذة، غباء وقصر نظر.0

أنا بعرف إنه الموضوع مش دايماً سهل. صعب تشوف ناس رايحة تحج وتعبد ربنا وتموت بهالطريقة المؤلمة. صعب تشوف أطفال غرقانين وهم ما شافوا من الدنيا إشي. صعب تشوف الظالمين والفاسدين عم بزيدوا قوة وثروة كل يوم بدون ما تنزل صاعقة تمحيهم عن بكرة أبيهم. لكن أعتقد الجواب يتلخص في جزئين من آية، الأول: “إني جاعل في الأرض خليفة: والثاني: “إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون”.0

في القرآن، قال الله للملائكة: “إني جاعل في الأرض خليفة”0

كوننا خلفاء في الأرض يعني مسؤولين. يعني ما تشوف الظلم وتقعد تدعي وتستنى ربنا يبعت طير الأبابيل على بني صهيون أو زلزال يمحو داعش عن الأرض. احنا كبشر عنا مسؤولية فردية ومسؤولية جمعية كجنس بشري، واحنا مسؤولين عن الحروب وعن الفساد وعن الظلم وعن الاحتباس الحراري وعن ضحايا كل هاي الأشياء المباشرين وغير المباشرين. نعم، مش دايماً بنقدر نعمل إشي في وجه المصايب والكوارث اللي بتصير، لكن هاد الإشي جوابه في الجزء الثاني.0

لما سمعت الملائكة بالخبر قالوا: “أتجعل فيها من يفسد فيها ويسفك الدماء”، يعني الملائكة شافوا الموضوع شر واستغربوه، وجود البشر بالنسبة إلهم كان بلاء للأرض. لكن ربنا سبحانه وتعالى قال: “إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون”. بدون شرح، بدون تفسير، فقط “إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون”.0

إذا كنت ملحد، إنت حر في إنك ما تشوف إنه في أي حكمة وتعتبر إنه الإنسان هو القوة العظمى في الكون وبيعرف كل شي، وإذا كان في إشي البشر مش شايفينه أو ما بقدروا يتصوروه فمعناته هو مش موجود ومستحيل. لكن إذا كنت مؤمن فمن مستلزمات الإيمان تآمن بالغيب، وبالحكمة الربانية ولو ما قدرت تشوفها. بس لا تقولي إنك كإنسان عقلك ممكن يستوعب كل إشي وبالتالي إنت شايف إنه ما في سبب ولا مبرر لكل اللي عم بصير ولا ممكن يكون في حكمة كونك مش قادر تفكرشو ممكن تكون. ولا تقولي إنك مؤمن بالله بس شايف إنه ظالم، لأنك ساعتها بتكون مؤمن بإله تاني، زيوس أو أوزوريس أو حورس يمكن، مش إله خالق لكون واسع احنا فيه أصغر من جزيئات في ذرة في قطرة ماء في محيط.0

Bubble Soccer

bubble 6

So yesterday I tried bubble soccer for the first time. A new concept to me personally, I have only heard about it a few weeks ago, but it sounded interesting enough to jump on the opportunity, not to mention the feeling of safety conveyed by the word “bubble”. Seriously, add “bubble” to anything and I bet anyone would be willing to try it no matter how cautious and unadventurous they were. Bubble mountain climbing, bubble sky diving, bubble shark swimming, you name it. (Actually after naming them I’m ot so sure, but bubbles are cozy, you get the idea.)

I went with a group of family and friends, we were split into two teams, the blue team and the red team – I was in the blue team. There were two sizes of bubble to choose from depending on your height and physique, so it was kind of unfair when you, wearing a small bubble and struggling to move, got hit by a bulldozer coming your way in the form of a giant red bubble. However, and the fun of it is, it doesn’t matter. Once you get the first hit and even fall down you realize: You’re inside a bubble, you can take all the knocks you have time for and fall down as many times as you have to. It’s beautiful, really.

The first game we played was good old football. Of course, being inside your bubble means you’re partially visually impaired with limited mobility. As soon as I heard the whistle I saw an army of circle shaped objects stuffed with people running everywhere. I started running aimlessly as I couldn’t see the ball anyway, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground and my shoe came off. Of course when it’s your first fall your hands are already full with the challenge of getting up, so a flying shoe is adding insult to injury. Thankfully though, the shoe was close enough that it wasn’t a problem. Anyway, we played football for 12 minutes, and we, the blue team were victorious.

For the second game each team had to choose one of the teammates as a “King”, and just like in chess, his teammates had to protect him while the other team tried to knock him down. We played 3 rounds, we won the first round, and the second, and in the third they said we had to choose a “Queen”, which means a girl must be chosen, and since our team had only me and a slender, fragile-looking 17 year-old, so it had to be me, despite not being so steady on my feet, especially after being knocked down more times that I had counted during the previous games. But, thankfully we had a good defense and our team managed to knock their queen down before they could get to ours, and we won again.

The last game was Sumo wrestling. I was up first, my opponent was a irl my height but she couldn’t have weighed much more than 40 kilos so I thought: “I can take her down.” Somehow though she pushed me out of the ring, which was pathetic, and surprising. Well, maybe she had more willpower. In my defense, I hadn’t slept in 3 days. What was even more pathetic is that she herself was eliminated next by the aforementioned fragile 17 year-old, who was her sister by the way. I guess you could ever guess how these things will turn out, but of course the final winner was one of the big tall guys, the strong eating the weak, there was little use for wits on the playground, it was all bone and muscle. The winner was one of the red team, for a change.

It was a fun experience, but thinking about it later on made me think of the other metaphorical bubbles we wrap ourselves inside in life. They are not that different. They shield you from people, they make you more resistant to life knocks which might make you think you’re stronger than you really are, and most importantly: they are exhausting. They make it hard to breathe, and you know you’re better off without them. And you know you can’t stay in your bubble forever, but you also know it’s a good resort from time to time.

For more info on bubble soccer in Amman visit:

بينك بانثر

اليوم كنت في زيارة لروضة بنت أختي لحضور احتفال، أو مسابقات، أو أياً كان اسم الفعالية. رجل يقوم بحركات طفولية ساخرة لإضحاك الأطفال، لو شفته بالشارع مستحيل تتخيل إنه شخص بهذا المظهر الرتيب ممكن يركض وينط بهاي الطريقة، وبتشوف شو ممكن يعمل الإنسان عشان لقمة العيش. وواحد تاني لابس بدلة “بينك بانثر” أنا عن نفسي خفت منها واستغربت كيف ولا واحد من الأطفال انصرع وصار يصرخ أو حاول يهرب. والأطفال مبسوطين وبزقفوا وبرقصوا مع البينك بانثر وضحكهم موصل للسما، وهاد أهم إشي

بعد شوي الرجل اللي بقدم الحفلة سأل الأطفال مين بحب يغني. طبعاً مش غريب إنه ولا طفل طلع غنى أغنية إلها دخل بالطفولة زي ما كان الوضع على أيامنا، يعني بدل “ماما وبابا بحبوني” و”أنا إبريق الشاي” مثلاً سمعنا أغاني مثل “إنت معلم” و”إنت باغية واحد”.0

لكن اللي خلاني شبه أتشنج هو طفلة متحمسة طلعت مسكت الميكروفون وصارت تغني “متل الطلقة الروسية، إذا ما قتلتي بتشلي”. سيبك من الطفولة الضائعة، الأغنية هاي عندي مشكلة معها من زمان. الأغنية هاي طلعت في عز الحرب/الأحداث/الثورة في سوريا (ضع دائرة حول المصطلح الذي يناسب توجهك السياسي). كل ما كنت أسمعها بعرس خاصة كانت تيجيني حالة اشمئزاز من المستوى اللي وصلناله فنياً وإنسانياً، تمسحنا بالمرة لدرجة إنه صرنا نتغنى بالرصاص اللي عم بنقتلوا في ناس على أرض الواقع. قلة احترام لدم الشهداء والضحايا اللي انقتلوا وانشلوا بطلقات روسية، في وضع إقليمي حساس وبيغلي أصلاً

البنت الصغيرة صارت تغني “الطلقة الروسية”، وفي بالي نطت صورة أطفال مرعوبين تحت القصف، وأطفال مسحوبين مع الموج، وقدامي أطفال بيضحكوا وبزقفوا، وفكرة وحدة: إنه هاد الإشي اللي المفروض أطفال بهالعمر يكونوا بيعملوه. وفجأة بتصيبك حالة انفصام، ورهاب من إنك تفتح الفيسبوك أو تويتر عشان ما تشوف الصورة السودا الكبيرة، وبتقرر للحظة تسكر كل حساباتك وتنقطع عن العالم الخارجي لأنه الصورة المصغرة أحلى بكتير، الصورة الصغيرة فيها أطفال ماسكين سطولة وبركضوا عشان يلموا فيها طابات، ونمر وردي عملاق بالنص، أما الصورة الكبيرة ففيها أطفال بركضوا عشان يهربوا من سطولة ضخمة نازلة من السما، وأسد مش وردي بتفرج من بعيد، وفجأة بدون سابق إنذار بشتغل صوت شاعر في راسك: “أدري بأنك لا تخاف الطفل حياً… إنما أدعوك صدقاً.. أن تخاف من الصغار الميتين”0

*** هذا البوست عبارة عن تخبط محض، سامحونا عالركاكة

My Sweet Sixteen Plus Fifteen

Birthdays: Annual occasions where you celebrate not being hit by a car or shot at a wedding by some idiot for yet another year. Congratulations, you might not be the fittest but you survived anyway.

However, after a certain age birthdays cease to be mere merry occasions, they turn into panic attacks: What have I achieved in my 30 years on earth? When am I going to save some money? I’m never going to find love! My husband forgot my birthday, 3 years of marriage down the drain. Children! I need to have children before it’s too late. Who took my charger? I made it clear I don’t want anyone taking my charger. No, I’m not overreacting, YOU are overreacting! Hand me that popcorn. What? I’m not crying, I’m just overflowing with fulfillment. Sniff. TICK-TOCK, TICK-TOCK…

But it doesn’t have to be that dramatic, and don’t pretend it’s not. There’s always some after-party drama when everyone goes home and you’re alone with your gifts and leftover cake. And you’d be totally justified in taking that plunge into the self-pity, life-loathing pool; it’s completely understandable and okay, as long as you’re avoiding people and sharp objects.

But again, it doesn’t have to be that bad, not because “age is just a number”, make no mistake, age is a number and one that makes a difference, so let’s do away with that denial-drenched mentality and say it like it is. If you’re 30, that means you’re no longer 20, and everything is not the same. However, it doesn’t have to be all that different. It’s not like when you turn 30 you’ll gain weight uncontrollably or start shedding skin. Yes, your complexion might not look as fresh as a 21 year-old – unless you’re spending a small fortune on skin care products or have a very good surgeon- but you will still look beautiful, and you will still be able to do everything you used to do in your twenties. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything you could do in your twenties that you couldn’t do in your thirties, not even running like a lunatic down the street or crying while watching Twilight. If you can do that in your twenties then chances are you can do it at any age, because you’re probably crazy, or a moron, and you will always have a streak of that and will, hopefully, grow up to be that crazy grandma with a purple hat/scarf who everyone loves.
My point is, don’t deny age, make peace with it.

I for one have made my peace with it, mostly because my choices are limited, you know, it’s grow older or die. And it really doesn’t matter as much after you hit 30. It becomes a chance to reevaluate yourself and the important things in your life, what’s been achieved so far, what needs to be done, what’s missing. A day to be thankful for the people you have around you on this very day – not only because of the cake and gifts- but most importantly for taking the time and the effort to be there and to make you feel extra special on this one day of the year, without getting a hint from Facebook.

It’s also a time for disappointments, which are an inevitable part of the circle of life, but it’s also a time to deal with them, reconsider things, put your life in order, reset and start a new, or simply resume, whatever floats your boat.
The amount of love I felt today almost equals the amount of sugar I consumed.

Happy sweet 16 plus 15 to me, it was definitely a good one



أبو ربحي يجلس في دكانه، الراديو يصدح بموسيقى مألوفة “صحصح صحصح صحصح صح… مع روتانا”، أبو ربحي لا يأبه بالبرنامج لكنه أكسل من أن يغير المحطة. مترهلاً على كرسيه تأتيه أصوات المذيعتين “رهف” و”ناديا” تلقيان بعض الأقوال الحكيمة المحضّرة مسبقاُ على أنغام الموسيقى، والتي لا يأبه بها أبو ربحي أيضاً. يستجمع قوة كافية ويهم بتغيير المحطة، وإذا به مجرى الكلام يتغير. رهف تتحدث عن “قلة عقل النسوان” وناديا تعطي نصائح للزوجات بأهمية ألا تكون أنانية وعنيدة، بلهجة صارمة تعالمية لا يسع أبو ربحي إلا أن يهز رأسه اتفاقاً معها وثقة في مصدرها، من منطلق “وشهد شاهد من أهله”. تتبع ذلك قصص مختلفة عن رجال يعانون الأمرين من زوجاتهم وأمثلة على أنانية المرأة وإهمالها في نفسها، وأبو ربحي يتمثل صورة أم ربحي بمريول المطبخ محاولاً أن يتذكر آخر مرة “سشورت” شعرها

أم ربحي لم تسمع البرنامج. الراديو في المطبخ وهي تركض بين غرف النوم وغرفة الجلوس لتنهي الترتيب والكنس والمسح قبل عودة الأولاد من المدرسة. تتردد على المطبخ بين الحين والآخر لتفقد طنجرة ورق الدوالي التي سهرت في لفها الليلة الماضية كي تكون جاهزة وقت عودة أبو ربحي عند الغداء لتجنب نكده. تلتقط طراطيش من كلام المذيعتين “لازم المرأة تكون في أبهى حالاتها مهما كانت مشاغلها لأنه الزلمة بحب المرة اللي بتدير بالها عل حالها”. تلمح أم ربحي انعاكاسها في مرآة الحمّام وهي تسلك مصرف المغسلة وتتنهد بحسرة. تنهي أعمال البيت فتسرع إلى ماكينة الخياطة لإنهاء الأثواب التي عليها تسليمها للزبونات مساء اليوم. مع اقتراب موعد عودة أبو ربحي، تطفئ النار تحت الطبخة وتغير قميص النوم القطني الطويل الذي تعشّق رائحة البصل وشرحات اللحم، تحاول لملمة شعرها قدر المستطاع، تتذكر آخر مرة سشورته يوم خطبة بنت أختها قبل شهور، تقول ربما غداً بما أنه ما عندي طبيخ، بينما تحدق فيها أكوام الغسيل في صمت

أبو ربحي يعود إلى البيت، تستقبله أم ربحي بتعب لا تخفيه المساحيق، يتجهم متذكراً الدرر التي سمعها هذا الصباح. “أنا بشر. أحتاج إلى رؤية زوجتي في أبهى طلة. لا أعذار. ماذا كنت تفعلين طوال اليوم؟ أكيد بتطق حنك، حكي نسوان وقلة عقل”. لا يغادره تجهمه حتى حين يرتدي دشداشة البيت وينتفخ كرشه بعد الغداء فيما يلاحظ أن وزن زوجته ازداد مؤخراً، وثوبها القطني المهترئ. ويتذكر أنه بشر، ويتحسر…0

إهداء إلى مذيعتَي روتانا ناديا الزعبي ورهف صوالحة اللي قرفونا تنظير وتنميط للمرأة. فعلاً المرأة ممكن تكون عدوة نفسها، خاصة لما تلبس ثوب التحضر والانفتاح وأفكارها لسا معلقة في فترة ما قبل الحرب العالمية الأولى

The Odd Evening Walk

Just as I finished working today and as soon as I submitted the file I felt a compelling need to lie down and rest my eyes for a while. The next thing I know, I was in deep sleep. It was the first time I nap during the day in a very long time, maybe in years.

However, after I managed to get up more than an hour later, I was in a state of exhaustion, like I just wanted to go back to sleep again. So, in the spirit of my deep-rooted feeling that sleep is a waste of life and should be kept to a minimum, and to celebrate the restoration of the brisk night reeze in Amman and its suburbs, I decided to go for a walk to the supermarket after sunset.

Every time I go on such an impromptu, or even a planned walk, it hits me hard how much you miss out on when you do all your errands by car. Just as I left home I overheard a conversation between two boys on the street. One of them was telling the other that China makes crappy stuff and it’s not as great a country as he seems to think. The other replied that China makes good things but we only get the bad stuff. I couldn’t help that there was more to it than just a boyish conversation. These boys are discovering the world. Today they are discussing Chinese industries, 10 years from now they might be discussing the virtues and vices of communism versus capitalism.

Further down the road, there were 3 boys riding bicycles. Bicycles have a very special place in my heart and memory. There was a bump-up in the road and something about the way the bicycles heaved over the bump-up that made me almost want to ask them to let me take a ride. In fact, not very long ago it occurred to me to buy a bicycle for home use, to share with my brothers. However, I was discouraged by the fact that we would have to keep adjusting the height of the seat, or I’ll just have to risk falling off the bike.

I decided to go to the farthest supermarket, to prolong the distance and, to be honest, they have the best chocolates. As I exited into the main street I could feel the heat coming out from the cars, another reminder why one of my dreams has always been to retire in a farm house in the countryside. Down the road there was a watermelon tent, with dirty-looking carpets covering the ground up to the edge of the street, and that made me wonder about two things: Do watermelon tents exist outside the Middle East? And, do they ever wash these carpets when the season is over? Or do they just throw them away?

Then I reached the supermarket, and I took my sweet time moving between the aisles, picking stuff of the shelves and returning them and then picking them again. I got some cakes, chips and flavored milk for my nieces of course because it would be a total betrayal to be at the supermarket and not get them anything, that would totally create a rift in the relationship. And of course, I got myself some stuff for my stash, there must always be a stash.

I left the supermarket after what seemed like forever. I took the first turn into the neighborhood to minimize the distance I had to walk on the main road. This is the route I used to take when I came back from university; the only difference is that I used to take a shortcut, which no longer exists now as there’s a commercial complex in its place, the same one housing the supermarket I was at minutes ago. I remember there was a little girl I would meet on my way back through there sometimes, her name was Sura. There was a bunch of little girls nearby and it occurred to me to stop and ask which of them was Sura, she would be around 13 or so now, but I decided against it because it would be meaningless and possibly freaky for the girl.

I walked on, passing by a newly built building whose ground floor windows looked very appealing. They had small colorful plant pots on the windowsill and the design of the window panes along with the lighting inside made it look like something out of a movie. I couldn’t resist but take a peek inside, despite the moral conflict and feeling like a peeping Tom, but I really wasn’t trying to spy on them or anything, I just wanted to have a feel of how it was inside. It’s still wrong, I know.

Further down the road I passed by the mini market we used to go to as kids. I opened when I was in the second grade, and it was one of our daily destinations, sometimes several times a day. It was closed at the time and I thought that in our day it would be open at such an hour, and we would be going back and forth to buy cheap snacks. A few years ago I took my niece, who was 4 years old at the time, to that minimarket. I wanted her to experience something else other than the big supermarkets with expensive candy bars. Well, she wasn’t impressed at all. In fact she acted like a grossed-out Mary Antoinette. It’s funny how we used to buy a ton of things with less than 50 piasters while nowadays if you’re taking kids to the supermarket you must be armed with a fat load of cash.

Turning the corner, a few meters down the road was our old house and the street where we spent a handsome part of our childhood. There were children on the street but they didn’t seem to be having nearly as much fun as we were in those days. A group of girls had a baby stroller with them, which was something we frequently had too as there was always a baby in the neighborhood at one point or another, and apparently the neighbors were happy to dump their babies on the neighborhood kids and have some time for themselves, which is completely understandable.

So, what started off as an energizing walk turned out to be a walk down memory lane. Most interestingly, I was mentally blogging all the way, which brings back the good old days when that was a constant mental exercise. It’s amazing how many little things you could discover and rediscover when you stretch your legs and spare the air some emissions!


The Diaries and Misadventures of a Social Misfit – 2

“So, that’s it?” He sister said as she came into the room without knocking. “One bad interview and you’re shutting yourself up in your room?”

“I found that to be the safest course of action.” She said calmly, without taking her eyes off her phone.

“Ummm, lying on bed all day while browsing facebook does not qualify as ‘Action’, you know.'”

“I’m not on facebook,” she replied, unmoved. “I deactivated my account. Too many happy people.”

“Those shameless monsters!” Said the sister sarcastically with squinting eyes.

“No…” she sat up. “I’m serious. The whole thing is like a giant microscope. Everything looks bigger and better than it is. A trip to the beach looks like the trip of a lifetime, a simple gathering of friends at a local café seems like a dream, a high-class velvety fundraiser makes it feel like they’re gonna end world hunger. And you’re sitting there like a peeping tom with a pair of binoculars, observing the mood changes of people you couldn’t care less about, browsing carefully picked photos of beautiful people with big, wide smiles going on and on about their friends and their jobs, all the while reminding you that you don’t have any of those things…”

“Well then get up and go find yourself some friends!”

“I don’t want friends!” She slumped back onto the bed. “You’re missing the point.”

“Then get up and go find yourself a job.”

“Tried. Didn’t work out very well.”

“How bad could it be? I don’t understand. We all have bad interviews, that doesn’t…”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.” She said sharply, avoiding eye contact. “I’ll get a job when I get a job.”

“Yeah, but based on my humble knowledge of the labor market, jobs don’t usually come knocking on your door.”

“Invaluable information, thank you.” She raised her eyebrows in mock astonishment.

“Suit yourself.” He sister finally surrendered. As she left the room, Dina got up from the bed and walked towards the big window. She pulled the curtain slightly aside and stood there staring at nothing in particular, thinking that her sister had a point. What’s next? She’s has graduated a year ago and she’s yet to find a decent job.

Suddenly, her gaze froze, she felt the blood draining from every vein in her body, and her muscles turned to stone. There with the same yellow smile and the stench of smoke she could smell without smelling, stood the man responsible for her latest phobia. But he wasn’t alone, along with him there was a woman dressed in an elegant navy dress, wearing her hair down, and two children who ran and jumped in front of them. They were clearly a family, and a happy one too.

The moving truck didn’t leave much for speculations: those were their new neighbors.

The Diaries and Misadventures of a Social Misfit

“3 scoops, on a cone. Dark chocolate, double chocolate and chocolate mint.”

The guy at the ice cream parlor stared at her for a few moments, trying to figure out whether she meant what she said.

“Hello!” She blurted out pettishly.

The ice cream guy went to work right away. This didn’t seem like a girl who appreciates her ice cream taken lightly. He quickly scooped out the globs, stacked them on top of each other with little tact, and stretched it out to her.

“Not so fast.” She said, still upholding the same scowl she came in with. “Syrup, and lots of sprinkles.”

Spoiled grump. He thought to himself. A girl who doesn’t lighten up at the sight of 3 scoops of chocolate ice cream is probably one with deep issues, the kind of girl that’s not very easy to please.

“I suppose this is your lunch.” He said teasingly.

“Are you saying I’m fat?” She snapped. “Look.. Kareem or whatever,” she glanced at his name tag, “I might be a little bit on the chubby side but I definitely won’t call myself fat, and I know what I’m doing here. Besides, who are you to call me fat? Look at yourself looking like a broom stick despite working in an ice cream parlor. How is that possible? You people drive me crazy!”

“We… people?” He questioned.

“Humans!” She snapped again.

He didn’t retort, just carried on with his colossal task silently. She felt a pang of guilt. Why was she taking her anger out on him? She shouldn’t have done it half an hour ago at that fiasco of a job interview before she stormed out of the office.

The footage played back in her head.

“We don’t have vacancies right now, but I’m willing to help you if you’re willing to help me.” The 50-something man behind the desk shot her a smoke-tinted yellow smile. It took her a few moments to register what he said, aided by the reflection in the glass panels of the wall unit behind him.

She felt her stomach turn. Suddenly she didn’t want that ice cream anymore.

“It’s for you.” She worked-up a smile as the young man behind the counter handed her the finished work of chocolaty art. “Enjoy it.” She said as she ran out of the shop clutching her stomach before emptiying it all out on the sidewalk.

To be continued…

Monkeys See, Monkeys Do

It was a few days ago, in a small dusty stationary shop, when I stumbled upon what I considered to be a treasure, a blast from the past: the children stories I grew up with and were some of my first reading experiences and a gateway into the world of books and literature.


As it turned out, many people were just as excited about them as I was, or even more so, although I must say for those unfamiliar with the said illustrated stories, the reaction may seem a bit over the top. In our defense, though, they would look much more appealing if you were a kid in 1992.

So I decided to get some of those stories and experiment with them on my 8 and 5 year-old nieces – whenever I could get them off their tablets that is-. To my mild surprise and despite the not-very-flattering illustrations, they seemed quite interested. However, there was a little problem.

You see, it’s different when you read a story from the 1990’s after you’ve developed some critical thinking skills. You start reading the story to the kids and then your mind goes into panic mode and you’re completely horrified at the crap you’re pouring into their minds right now.

Let me give you an example.

We read a story called “In the circus”. That particular story seemed to caught the eye of both my nieces, how not so when it has a monkey balancing on a rope and bouncing a colorful ball over his head? It’s a daydream materializing into a 2-D drawing.Yet, the title of the story was a bit misleading, so to speak. If they called it “How to be a good monkey who suffers silently” well, that would be more like it.

The story revolves about a little monkey who works at the circus, and who one day decided he’s had too much and decided to run away from the circus because the trainer works him and his brother too hard. He suggests the idea to this brothers who refuse to join him so he carries on with his plan alone. Long story short, the little monkey escapes, gets into trouble, and finally goes back to the circus with his trainer, ashamed of what he’s done and promising not to do it again. And it gets better, and by better I mean worse of course, for guess what was the monkey’s name? “Nimrod”, which is a famous name in Islamic and Biblical literature, the name of the tyrant who threw Abraham – Peace be upon him- in the fire. In popular culture, the name became synonymous with mischievous, rogue and unruly behavior. In other words, that monkey was a no-good maverick who didn’t know any better.

As soon as I finished reading it I turned to my 8 year-old niece and asked her what she would do if she was in the monkey’s place, would she run away or stay in the circus, to which she immediately replied that she would stay. Naturally, I told her that I would leave, because that trainer had no right to torture that little monkey and because monkeys should live freely in the open wilderness where they could feed on bananas and swing on trees. To be fair, I told her the monkey’s only mistake was that he broke into someone’s house and ransacked it.

But that’s just one story and one kid. What about all the kids who have read this story and others? Don’t underestimate the power of the subconscious mind and all the ideas instilled in it. Don’t you dare resist. Don’t you dare revolt against oppression, and don’t you dare find a better life for yourself.

I’m not questioning the intentions of the people who wrote and illustrated those stories. I’m almost sure they did it with the best intentions at heart, but after all there are many ideas that are deep-rooted in the collective mindset of society and those are bound to display themselves in our literature. Take another example:


Here, the raven is being described as “ugly with its hideous black feathers”. It’s not strange at all given this is coming from people who live in a society obsessed with whiteness and who associate fair complexion with beauty. And it’s not only this story, I’ve read other stories from our folklore with some less than subtle comparisons between the pretty white princess and the sinister, ugly, black slave. I guess this is a universal problem, white supremacy is global plague, but it becomes alarming when you see that in the 21st century, it is still being nurtured and instilled in our children.

All in all, there is no way to protect your children from all the poisoned ideas that will be pitched at them whether on the street, at school or through the media. The best thing you can do is to try and help them develop the power of critical thinking to be able to think for themselves from an early age and bust any rotten idea before it seeps into their minds and take part in shaping the way they see the world.