The Thing


“Long time no see!” I exclaimed when I saw Sara and gave her a big hug. How are things going with your fiancé?”

“You mean my X-fiancé. We’ve broken up.” She said, trying to fake a shy smile.

“Why, what happened?”

“He had a fight with my father. He tried to apologize but my dad wouldn’t accept it. Later on the roles were reversed, and he got back at my father by dumping me”

I wasn’t in a position to make a judgment, but I certainly felt terribly sorry for the poor girl. Being abandoned by someone you love is the worst heart-breaking feeling a girl could experience.

“What if they have reconciled?” I thought to myself. “The whole problem might have been forgotten in a matter of weeks.”

I wonder how much time she needs to overcome her abandonment.

That is how I see it: The father refused to compromise at the beginning, the son-in-law refused to compromise afterwards, and the girl had to pay for it.

“Why did the girl’s feelings have to be in the second place?”

Well, something had to be sacrificed at the end, and it couldn’t be the superior macho pride!

Typical male society.

“Or maybe he didn’t love her enough” I wondered in a second thought.

But, how much is enough?

A relative term, I thought.

“Maybe I should stop here” I thought to myself. “I’m sort of a hardliner when it comes to this subject ”

Is it me who is asking for too much, or I am really not getting enough?

Someone who can’t even say Love and uses a term like this subject instead, must be having a problem.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that there were times when I felt an excessive need for love, not in its direct narrow meaning, but for love as a vast concept. In other words, I needed people.

One of those weary nights where I felt as if a huge stone was resting upon my heart, I rambled between pressing random thoughts that dashed through my brain like an angry stampede.

“The amount of love you give determines the amount of love you get from others.” That one seemed fairly logical.

“But” I thought, “Giving someone all the love you could is no guarantee that you’ll get anything in return.” That one woke up a not-so-nice memory.

Which nullifies which? Neither.

As I wrote this, the idea seemed more complicated than I thought, and it diverged into several theories and possibilities.

“Love is such a dilemma.”

That was my final conclusion ******

I can’t help, as I write this, but to think of my grandfather in his army suit, passing by the house where my grandmother lived. They didn’t say a word, nor needed to. It began there, and lasted for 50 years.

I still remember him sitting beside her on the sofa, singing for her “ya wardet el hob el safi”, which would make her blush and try to stop him. But he didn’t refrain from showing his affection, he would just giggle and continue the song: “Teslam edain elli sa’aki”.

She also loved him, even if she didn’t show it his way. But her words would sometimes betray her, and a smooth flow of love would slip through her tongue.

“No one takes care of you as much as I do.” She mumbled one day as she handed him a plate of sweets. She always knew that he was fond of sweet. A man of a sweet tongue, and a sweet tooth.

But her love for him would become more and more radiant in his last days, too radiant to be hidden. Everyone could see it in her tears, her staying up by his side at night, and spending hours on end on a plastic chair by his bed when he was at hospital.

Despite his sickness, he didn’t take satisfaction only in receiving love, but also in giving more and more to everyone around him.

He appreciated physical gestures of affection. He liked to be kissed and hugged by his sons, daughters and grandchildren. A nice incident I still remember from his last days was when my aunt, his eldest daughter, was sitting beside him on the bed and he was trying to tell her something. She couldn’t understand what he was saying since his breathing and talking were tightened by the disease that crawled up to his lungs. She stretched and put her ear near his mouth so that she could hear him. But he didn’t say anything; he just reached out and kissed her on the cheek. Easy to give, easy to get… That’s how love seemed in his presence.  


** Sara’s story is fictional, but based on a true story.

 Originally posted on  Thursday, February 09, 2006 on

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