Welcome to the Duke’s Diwan

“It’s like entering a time machine” That’s the best thing I could say to describe how it feels tobe in the Duke’s Diwan, much more for the first time. It makes me regret passing by that place all those times without checking it out, or sometimes not even noticing it was there.

Being the oldest building in Amman, turned now into a cultural attraction, the Dukes Diwan takes you on a journey to a time you’ve never live, but have always longed to, or at least that’s what you may discover as you move from one room to another, touching the old walls and wooden windows that reek with a certain aroma that is s antique yet so familiar, so alive.

It helps to that the curator is the nicest man ever, probably almost as old as the building  itself and has a contagious passion towards it and towards the old days

Oh and there’s also an open book fair there those days, you might want to check that out.

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توجيهات حكومية

وفي ليلة من ليالي الربيع، حدث أمر فظيع، إذ كان سلمان جالساً في الدار، بعد أن فقد العزيمة والإصرار، فقد نخلت البطالة عظامه، وأنحلت قوامه، وأمه التي كانت تدعو له بظهر الغيب، صارت تدعو عليه أمامه…0

وبينما هو يشاهد التلفاز، وعجوزه ترمقه بنظرات اشمئزاز، دق الباب دقة غريبة، فانتاب صاحبنا شيء من الريبة، وأصابه خوف ووجل، كمن يشعر بدنو الأجل، إلا أن الوالدة وكزته عند الكوع، ونهرته بحدة: “افتح الباب يا جربوع، لعله فقير نال منه الجوع، أو صاحب البيت يريد أجرة الأسبوع، أو بشير جاء بخبر سار بعد دعاء مسموع”…0

ولما فتح الباب بشكل خجول، أصابه شيء من الذهول، فلم يجد سوى ورقة مختومة، تبدو كرسالة ملغومة، ما أن فتحها حتى صاح: “يمّا! انظري بماذا جاءت البومة، إنه فرمان من الحكومة”… فانطلق لسانها الطويل بالسباب، بلا تشفير ولا اقتضاب، وصاحت غاضبة: “إذاً ادخل وأغلق الباب، يا ما جاب لأمه الغراب”0

ولما راح عنها الغضب، وانطفأ في عينيها اللهب، أشارت إليه بالبنان، وقالت: “عليك الأمان”، فنهض واقفاً وراح يقرأ الفرمان…0

“أبناءنا المواطنين الأبرار، لدينا خبر سيىء وخبر آخر سار، إذ أنه نتيجة إسراف غير مقصود، وفساد تجاوز الحدود، ونظام اقتصادي مهدود، ونفاد مخزوننا من الوعود، قد وصلنا إلى طريق مسدود. وإننا قد اجتمعنا وتناقشنا، وتصارخنا وتناوشنا، وبلغت أخبارنا الجبال والوديان، وأصبحنا أضحوكة للعربان، إلا أن كل حساباتنا المحسوبة، أفضت إلى موازنة معطوبة، لا لأننا نحلب بقرة محلوبة، ولا بسبب الأموال المسلوبة، وإنما لسبب بسيط: هذه الموازنة مقدرة ومكتوبة…”0

هنا قاطعته أمه باستياء: “فعلاً قد مات من به حياء، تباً لك من بين الأبناء!”، فقام سلمان  محتجاً: “وما دخلي أنا بهذا الهراء، أَترينني رئيس الوزراء؟” فنظرت إليه شزراً، وأعطته أمراً: “أكمل القراءة يا مغضوب، علّني أراك في سلحوب”0

وبلا مزيد من الإطالة، أكمل سلمان قراءة الرسالة:0

“وإننا كما تعلمون أيها الأحرار، نواجه بعض التحديات والأخطار… فلما قررنا التعامي عن الفاسدين، وتأمين الرفاهية للنواب إلى يوم الدين، وعدم الاستثمار في التعدين، ولما عجزنا أمام الاحتكار، ولم نستطع ردع التجار، قررنا أيها المواطنون الأخيار، أن نرفع عليكم الأسعار”0

“أ“ريته نار وسعار”، صاحت العجوز بصوت هدار.0

أخذ سلمان أنفاساً عميقة، وأكمل قراءة الوثيقة…0

“وهكذا قررنا يا جماهيرنا الغفيرة، إجراء بعض التعديلات الصغيرة، لكننا نعدكم بأنها لن تمس الطبقات الفقيرة. فما حاجة الفقير إلى الكهرباء؟ سينام باكراً اختصاراً للعشاء، ويجد في العتمة مساحة للبكاء، وتتوطد علاقته برب السماء، إذ يلهج لسانه بالدعاء، على فلان وفلان وفلان، من دون ذكر أسماء… وكيلا تفكروا في الفرار، قد نرفع ضريبة المطار، فمن أراد الخروج مع السلامة، ولكن ليس قبل أن يدفع الغرامة، لا بدافع الجشع، ولا الاستغلال أو الطمع، وإنما لنعصرك حتى آخر قطرة، ثم تُسأل عن سر الكشرة، فتكون إجابتك سريعة ونزيهة، ويُقال إن الأردني سريع البديهة…”0

رفع سلمان حاجبيه، كأنه لا يصدق عينيه

“ومن هنا يا أبناء شعبنا الكرام، قررنا إحداث خُرم جديد في الحزام، فشدوه حتى تختلف الأضلاع، وعيشوا عيشة الضباع، على أمل تحسن الأوضاع”

تنهد سلمان بقرف، وكاد أن يسب الشرف، لولا أن جاء صوت أمه من الجوار: “هذا الخبر السيىء، فأين الخبر السار؟”0

لمعت عينا سلمان، وأعاد فتح البيان، فوجد في أسفله ملاحظة بخط دقيق، ظن أنها ستُذهب ما به من ضيق، لكن ما أن قرأها حتى هوى على الأرض كمن ضُرب بمنجنيق…0

“في الختام أيها الأحباء، نزف إليكم ما يسركم من أنباء، فمهما بلغ البلاء، وتكاثرت علينا الأعباء، وبلغ الزبد السماء، إلا أننا نعدكم فاطمئنوا: لن نرفع سعر الهواء”

قصص سابقة عن سلمان:0
نعي مواطن عاطل
إعلام الإخص

In the Dark [Short Story]

It’s so dark in here. My eyeballs are trembling, their pupils dilating frantically in desperate search for the tiniest spec of light.

 

But there isn’t any, and I have to accept it: I’m plunged into darkness.

 

But how did I get here? I’ve been dreading this for so long. Everyone knows what a coward I can be when it comes to confined spaces, and this is the worst of my fears, or maybe it shouldn’t be? Because in the darkness you can’t tell how spacious or enclosed a space is.

 

But why am I so afraid? Why do I feel like I’m suffocating? I knew this was coming. I knew it the moment the doctor asked me to sit down for the news.

 

“Didn’t you notice the mole earlier?”

“I did.”

“Then, why didn’t you have it checked out?”

 

I didn’t answer, although I knew the answer. He thought I didn’t think much of it, but I did. I was just too afraid to face it.

 

Now as I lie here in the darkness, I know there are bigger things to fear. I just want to get out. No. I want to go back in time; to the time where I could’ve it nipped it all in the bud.  God! How much I would give just to hear the doctor say: “It’s a good thing you came now; it’s nothing surgery can’t take care of”

 

But that wasn’t what he said. And now, months later, I’m here in this dark, bleak, cold hole alone. Oh, how I want to see them again! How I want to hear their voices, stroke their hair and kiss their cheeks! But I’m in here alone, and I know they are outside, praying for me, maybe shedding some tears every now and then.

 

My mom has always been the strong one. When I told her the news, I expected it to hit her like a thunderbolt out of clear sky. But it didn’t. Instead, she told me I needed to fight with all my power, and therefore I had to stay strong, really strong. She even joked that death might not be the worst thing that could happen, because if I lived I might wish to be dead after she took the time to punish me for not going for a check-up earlier and thus causing myself to go through all that.

 

But what happened had already happened, and I can’t change it, but I would give anything right now to hear my mother scolding me. Anything at all, but I know she now probably has a lump in her throat, and tears to fight back. Not because she’s ashamed of crying or because she deems it a weakness, but because she knows that this is that last thing the children need to see.

 

The children. I can almost see their faces and hear their giggles in the pitch darkness. I prepared them well for everything, too well maybe since the youngest one who’s barely four has hopes now that I’ll be going to the heavens to bring him all the gifts he wants. The other two were wearier and it’s hard to reassure them, so I thought it was better to have them know the truth.

 

This is the truth, a pitch-black hole.

 

But distraction was a much-needed quick fix. My husband took them out almost every day, and I would insist that he didn’t stay with me during chemo so that he could take them some place to get it off their minds. He was reluctant at first, but then he saw that it was the best choice for everyone. To tell the truth, I didn’t want him to see me in that shape. I couldn’t let him see me collapsing and vomiting and, sometimes, crying. That’s not an image I want him to have of me.

 

I closed my eyes and tried to remember the sound of his breathing at night. It was my lullaby. I tried to recall his smell, his smile, but suddenly his frown materialized before my eyes. “How could you do this to me? How could you do this to yourself?’

I know he blames himself for not pushing me enough to do an early check-up, and it tears me inside. It tears me that I caused him so much pain, because that’s one thing I never wanted to happen, ever.

 

How could I be here, in this darkness, without him?

I felt a sudden urge to scream.

 

I closed my eyes, the darkness was now filled with familiar faces and places. I saw my home, the little sofa in front of the TV, my children laughing hysterically while watching Monsters Inc. for the umpteenth time. I look out the window and I see the garden coming alive with shades of green and white daisies, and I savor the breeze coming my way, filling me with life. Then the door opens and the children run towards their daddy yelling and cheering.

 

How was your day?” He would ask. “Anything Special?”

 

I start to pray. Please let me go back. Please.

 

I open my eyes. It’s darkness again.

 

I feel a cold tear on my lips. I close my eyes and pray again. No more wondering. No more questioning how I got here. All I want now is a second chance. Just another chance.

 

I feel my body moving, I open my eyes hesitantly. It was there, I could see it, literally at the end of the tunnel. I was going towards the light, or maybe light was coming towards me, it didn’t make any difference, because the darkness was gone. My pupils were in shock and my eyes struggled to catch up with all they’ve been missing. Yet, my body was now trembling with anticipation, and soon it would be trembling with joy, and the cold tears of fear and regret would soon be warm with happiness and gratitude, as the voice of the doctor came echoing with words never in my life have I dreamed of hearing.

 

“The MRI scan is clean. Congratulations, you’re cancer free”

 

 

Meet Pen

 

When John first ran the idea of Pen by us, I couldn’t fully grasp what he was trying to achieve there, yet he was so passionate about it that I knew there must be something more to it, and as I listened on I started to get really impressed realizing that he had some big plans for that platform which is built around a very simple concept: telling stories

Who doesn’t have a good story to tell? You know, things you think about when you’re walking down the road, when you first open your eyes in the morning, ideas we think are stupid and not worth sharing, funny encounters, embarrassing situations, run-ins with strangers that make us discover new things about ourselves and about life.

Pen is a place for all that; it’s a place for all of us. It’s a place for untold stories to be told. It doesn’t matter if you tell it in two lines or in a thousand words, if it’s in Arabic or in English, if it’s about a supreme universal value or just about a grasshopper you spotted in the garden. It doesn’t matter if you’re using your real name or writing under a name like “The Clumsy Squirrel”. In short, Pen is a place to shed the light on a new generation of writers, specifically in the Arab world, and much more than that.

So, if you have a story to tell do share it with us, and don’t just say that people won’t be interested in hearing about your deep thoughts and personal endeavors; we’re people, we like to know how other people think and the things they experience.

Who knows? You might even win a brand new Kindle Fire. Yes, we’re giving that away to the best story submitted to Project Pen by June 1st.

I’m not going to say free your pen, which is Pen’s motto, as your pen might already be free, I’m just going to say: give it a whirl, let it run wild, you’d be surprised what it might have to say.