A Conversation with Tubby – 3

His white tufts glimmered in the lamp light, he was tapping on that iPad with a warm smile, squinting his eyes at the most mundane cute cat videos out there. He looked perfectly happy, and I knew I had to do something to bring him back to his normal miserable self.

Me: Aren’t you afraid of death?

Tubby: Death? [He laid down the iPad gently, the notion didn’t seem to have moved him at all] Why would I be afraid of death? I don’t live or die, I just exist inside your head, which means I die when you die.

Me: Right. [The smirk on my face turns slowly into a grimace as I realized the joke was on me]

Tubby: Are you?

Me: Am I what?

Tubby: Afraid of death.

Me: Well, I have mixed feelings when it comes to death. Sometimes I’m afraid, sometimes I’m looking forward to it, but mostly I’m intrigued by it, I think.

Tubby: Elaborate please

Me: You know, I believe in life after death so it’s not the idea of death itself that scares me, it’s mostly what’s after and what’s before death. Sometimes the “how” makes me cringe a bit but that’s another issue.

Tubby: I get the “after” bit, but what about the “before”?

Me: Ah, that’s the tricky part; it’s the part that gets me confused. I mean, I look at people including myself, we have several reasons to fear death or at least to not want to die, although I know these reasons are irrational are illogical, but they are reasons nonetheless

Tubby: I’m not sure I’m following

Me: Okay, for example, some people, maybe most people… what the heck, I’ll just talk about myself. I’ve always had this feeling that I don’t need to die without a trace, I need to leave my mark on the universe, no matter how teeny tiny that mark is. I need to know I added something to the world, but it’s not only about that, it’s also about ego I guess, I need to know a part of me is still out there when I die, and I don’t know if that’s because I want to have done good that I want to live on after I die or just for pure egoistic motives, I hope it’s not really, because that’s insane. But anyway, I think I check out on that regard, I’ve left some scribbling here and there, I’ve also been told by some people that I touched their lives so, you know, I’m not saying that I want to die now or that I’m by any means ready but if I’m to die now I think I’m okay in that regard, that regard only.

Tubby: You know, some people might argue that they are not afraid of dying, they are more afraid of dying alone.

Me: Well, they have a point but don’t we all die alone? I mean, I don’t think that when I die I’ll care if someone is holding my hand or if I am strapped to some heartless machine in a cold, bleak hospital. Because you know, when you’re waiting for death I think it will be what’s on your mind, not if there’s enough people around you to distract you from the fact that you’re dying because no number of people can do that.

Tubby: You’re crazy

Me: No! Okay let me tell you something, remember a few months back when I lost control of the car and it went swaying then spinning on the airport road? When I realized I was likely to die in a few moments I didn’t think of anybody, I only thought of death and of being hurt. Now after the car stopped, by God’s mercy and grace, I started thinking of people again. I thought about my mother who was  on the phone and I worried if she’d heard me screaming. I thought I needed to call someone just to get all that fear out of my system. I thought of people because I was alive, not dead.

Tubby: Not convinced. You know, I once read that we are afraid of death because we’re afraid of dying without having loved or being loved enough.

Me: You really believe that? I don’t know, maybe. I mean, some people really worry that they want to get married and have kids before they die but really, think of it, who is less eager to die, people with kids and who feel so loved and all or lonely people with nothing to lose? I mean, the more love you have the less you want to die, no? So at first they don’t want to die before being loved and after being loved they don’t want to leave their loved ones, it’s a vicious circle don’t you think.

Tubby: So you’re saying people should avoid being loved so that they’d be less afraid of death?

Me: I’m just assuming, but I really don’t know, I’ve never been in that position but if I’m ever loved or feel loved in that sense I’ll let you know if it makes me feel fulfilled and want to die or if it makes me want to cling to life longer.

Tubby: then I guess we’ll never know

Me: Very funny [rolling eyes]. Anyway, you know what I think is the stupidest reason to fear death? The fear of not enjoying the pleasures of life before you die. I mean, I could understand it if it came from someone who doesn’t believe in the Afterlife, otherwise you should count on the fact that death is not the end, because when you die I don’t think you’ll care whether you went hiking in Alps or had that muffin you craved and couldn’t have because you were on a diet. But…

Tubby: but what now?

Me: But, I think it’s only human to think that way, we just love life and there are things we think we would love to try while we’re still on earth. I fell for that myself. You know, when I was younger and the school used to take us on trips, I would worry that I would die before going on that promised trip. I would be so excited that it would seem like that trip was the most important thing in my life and that I have no problem dying after it, but I’d be really worried that I wouldn’t live to take it.

Tubby: So, if you knew you a disaster was coming and the earth would be wiped out and you only had one week, after that one week 90% of the earth population is expected to die. What would you do during that week?

Me: Well, nothing much I guess, because I wouldn’t help but hope that I’d be in the 10%.

Tubby: Oh please! You’re taking the fun out of the question

Me: Okay, theoretically if I knew I’d die in a week, what would I do? You know, in that movie a chef was talking about how much she loved butter and she said that if a meteorite was to hit the earth and she only had 30 days to live she would spend them eating butter. I guess I’d be too stressed to do anything but eat yummy food without worrying about calories and gaining weight, cake in particular. I think I’d also spend time with the people I like, just having a good time. I might also do some writing, you know, who knows who would stay around to read, some documenting. I think I’d also become more spiritual and try to get closer to God, not only because of the eminent doom but also because I think the way I see things will change radically and I’ll be more aware of the things that matter. One thing I wouldn’t do is to indulge in tears and self-pity. I wouldn’t spend my last week on earth crying and saying goodbye to everyone, after all we’d all be leaving together.

Tubby: That’s a lot of details; you obviously thought of that before

Me: well, who didn’t?

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A Conversation with Tubby – 2

He stood in the hallway, his frizzy hair almost blocking the light, carrying a bunch of DVDs. The poor thing looked perplexed by all the text and color; the good old man had a black and white memory and view of life. His anxiety was cut short when he finally asked:

Tubby: So, what do you want to watch?

Me: I don’t know… you pick

Tubby [with a touch of excitement, which always happens to him when he’s asked to make any kind of decision, once in a blue moon in other words]: Oh, okay… let’s see, this one looks intriguing but I feel like seeing car crashes and some blood here and there, let’s watch this, I’m a sucker for action movies

Me: Okay.

[After a few beats]

Me: You know what, on a second thought I don’t think I want to watch an action movie, I already feel like there’s a drumming band inside my head, how about something a little bit more mellow? I know, let’s watch Pride and Prejudice, again.

Tubby: Yeah, right. Okay, as you like. [Then murmers] Typical

Me: What did you say?

Tubby: Nothing of interest to you

Me: No, you said “Typical”. What’s that supposed to mean?

Tubby: Look, it’s no big deal, there’s nothing wrong with being a control freak

Me: Who are you calling a control freak? I’m not a control freak! It’s just a stupid movie, pick anything you want, I don’t care

Tubby: It’s not about the movie, this is what you do all the time.

Me: Tubby, you’re obviously growing more and more senile by the minute. I asked you to pick a movie but then I realized your taste in movies suck, end of story. No need to give it a dimension it doesn’t have. Not everything has to be “deep” and indicate subliminal stuff and what not.

Tubby: No, this has to mean something. Haven’t you noticed? You always ask people to make decisions for you…

Me [interrupting]: because I don’t like making decisions

Tubby: Only to suggest something else, so you end up making the decision anyway, you know why? Because it makes you feel in control, whatever they decide makes you feel out of your element.

Me: This is a stretch, I’m not always in control

Tubby: True, but you still feel there’s something wrong when you’re not, don’t you?

Me: What are you getting at? You’re giving me a headache

Tubby: Just admit it, admit that you like being in control

Me: it’s not that I like it, idiot! It’s just that it makes me feel…

Tubby: Safe?

Me: Comfortable, I guess

Tubby: Now we’re getting somewhere

Me: But you know what? Sometimes it sucks, because sometimes it’s not easy to take the right decision so you wish that there would be someone who would take the wrong decision on your behalf so you won’t feel guilty. Do you know what I mean?

Tubby: I’m not sure actually

Me: Ah, forget it. Bottom line is, if I could hire someone to make all my decisions for me I would do it in a blink

Tubby: Yes, and you would fire them the next day

Me: Try me, are you up for that?

Tubby: Isn’t that what I’ve been trying to do all my life? But you won’t let me take any decision, you just follow your stubborn mind

Me: But, you’re supposed to be a part of it, you know. Aren’t you part of my rational thinking?

Tubby: Do I look rational to you? I’m a soft person, I’m in charge of the emotional decision making process You just think I’m rational because sometimes I’m right, the heart doesn’t have to be wrong all the time

Me: Well, better safe than sorry

Tubby: I thought you were one to take risks

Me: calculated risks, the things you try to pull are just insane

Tubby: Give me a chance, just this time

Me: Well, I guess I just might, it’s just a movie after all

Tubby: I’m not talking about the movie

Me: Oh, well…

من ذاكرته

خ“هاد الجو بذكرني بأجواء الحرب، بالزبط هيك كان الجو وقت حرب السبعة وستين

بس احنا ما كنا في بيتنا، الله يرحمها أم عرفات عاشور قد ما كانت تحبنا حكتلنا ما بتضلوا هون، احنا بيتنا كان بيت مستقل وعمار قديم، أخدتنا على بيتها كان عندهم عمارة أربع طوابق بنا جديد وقعدنا في الطابق التحتاني. الله يرحمها كانت تحبنا كتير، بس أقول جاي عبالي هريسة مانشوفها إلا راحت وعملتلي هريسة وجابتها. حتى لما جينا هون دورت علينا ولقتنا وإجت زارتنا، بتذكر كنت بقدم توجيهي وقتها، وشفتها وسلمت عليها

فقعدنا في بيتهم وحطينا فرشات على الشبابيك كلها، وكان قدام البيت معسكر للجيش الأردني فكانوا الإسرائيليين نازلين قصف. كل الفرشات انحرقت من الرصاص والضرب

وكان معنا محمد أمين الله يرحمه، ما بنساه، كان ابن صفي، صار بده يطلع يروح يشوف بيتهم، كانوا ساكنين في سلوان التحتا، واحنا نقوله يا ابن الحلال اقعد بلاش تطلع بس ما رد. بعد ما طلع بشوي سمعنا صوت ضرب رصاص.

ستي إم أبوي وهي جاي شافت شب مرمي تحت زيتونة وبإيده ساعة جديدة، كانت جاييته هدية من الكويت، بس وصلت صارت تحكي في شب ميت تحت الزيتونة وبإيده ساعة جديدة، لمين هاد؟ إمه عرفت دغري وصارت تولول…

الله يرحمه، أصر يطلع، استحى يضل قاعد عشان كانوا كلهم نسوان”0

بتصرف *

أنت والصرصور

الصرصور، ذلك المخلوق الساحر (مش كتير) اللي بس تشوفيه (بما إنه هذا البوست موجه للبنات كونهم ما عندهم مشكلة يعبروا عن خوفهم من الصراصير بخلاف اللي بقول أنا ما بخاف، أنا بقرف بس) المهم، شو كنا بنقول؟ أيوا، اللي بس تشوفيه كإنك شايفة الموت الأحمر (للي عادانا، ونقلع العين اللي لدت تلانا… يا ترى لو اللي بتغني هاي الأغنية شافت صرصور شو رح يصير فيها؟) المهم، شو كنا بنقول؟ أيوا، اللي بس تشوفيه بتصيري تصيحي وبتصحي كل البيت والجيران ويع وقرف وشوف شواربه كيف وهادا بطير… إلى آخره. مع إنه الغريب إنه إنت بتهربي بجهة والصرصور بهرب بجهة يعني هو كمان بعتبرك إشي بخوف، عمري شفتي صرصور فرد جناحاته وانقض عليكي بعدين طلعله أنياب؟ ولا رح تشوفي.0

ورغم هذه العداوة التاريخية بين الإنسان والصرصور، مع إنه لهلأ أنا مش عارفة شخصياً شو بعمل عدا عن إنه وسخ ومقرف وبعيش في المجاري، إلا إنك يا عزيزتي أسأت في تقدير هذا الكائن الوديع اللي ممكن يكون مفيد جداً إلك في حياتك العملية، وذلك لأن الصرصور اللي مش عاجبك ممكن يكون مقياس لأشياء مهمة كتير في حياتك، ونذكر منها:0

1-  مقياس استقلالية

لا تحكيلي شغل وحرية  وتحقيق ذات واستقلال مادي ومش عارف شو، ما بتحققي الاستقلالية الحقيقية إلا لما تقتلي أول صرصور. طبعاً إذا إنت أبوك مدلعك وكل ما يطلع صرصور بتروحي بتتخبي وهو بدبره بمغرفته فصعب تخوضي هاد الاختبار، لكن الجميل في الموضوع إنه الصرصور نفسه كائن متعاون، يعني أول ما يفضى البيت وما يضل فيه غيرك بتلاقيه طلع يتمختر، ساعتها بتضطري تتحدي نفسك، والميدان يا حميدان. طبعاً ما حدا بطلب منك تقتلي الصرصور بطريقة احترافية (شبشب إم-16) من أولها، يعني بالتدرج، بيبي ستيبس، أولها بف بف، بعدين بتزتي عليه الشبشب وبتستني ييجي حدا يقيمه (أنا حالياً في منطقة ما بين هدول المرحلتين) يعني الموضوع بده صبر ومثابرة.0

2- مقياس نظافة:0

لما تكوني تنضفي البيت وتلاقي صرصور قالب على ظهره ومتشنج وميت لحاله معناته يا إما إنه الصرصور دخل عالبيت وكمّل دورة حياته طبيعي ومات بسلام لحاله وإنت ولا هون، يا إما إنه الصرصور دخل وما لقى إشي ياكله فمات، يا إما إنه لقى البيت وسخ كتير بشكل لا يُحتمل فانتحر ومات. عاد شوفي شو بدك تعملي في هاي الحالة.0

3- مقياس رجولة:0

هلأ مواصفات رجل الأحلام تبعك وقائمة المواصفات اللي حاطيتها من الصف الخامس حطيها على جنب شوي، لأنه في سؤال مهم كتير معظم البنات بيغفلوا عنه: “بتعرف تقتل صرصور؟”  عاد إذا حكالك لأ فيعني عقلك براسك بتعرفي خلاصك. حلو كتير منظركم إذا طلع صرصور بالبيت بآخر الليل وهو واقف ورا الحيط بتفرج وإنت دايرة وراه بالبف باف – إلا إذا كنت كنترول فريك طبعاً وهاد الوضع بناسبك لأنه بعزز من سيطرتك-. كمان طريقة قتل الصرصور بتدل على شخصية الرجل، يعني اللي بقتله بالبف باف إنسان مرهف حساس يجيد التخطيط، أما اللي بمزعه حفاية بجيب خميره بضربة وحدة فهاد إنسان مغامر جريء مندفع يحب اقتناص الفرص (بناء على مصدر غير موثوق)0

الخلاصة إنه حان الوقت لننهي الدراما ونتوقف عن معاملة الصرصور كأنه أسد مش ماكل صارله 3 أيام. وبالتوفيق أنا مني وعلي قتلت صرصورين كبار خلال مسيرتي الفنية ومش حابة أقتل غيرهم، بس يعني المهم أخدت الرخصة. عقبال عندكم.0

عن الشتاء

و للحنين فصل مدلل هو الشتاء. يولد من قطرات الماء الأولى على عشب يابس، فيصعد زفرات استغاثة أنثوية، عطشى إلى البلل، وعدٌ بزفاف كوني هو المطر. وعد بانفتاح المغلق على الجوهر، وحلول المطلق في ماهيّاتٍ… هو المطر – محمود درويش

Noon نون

“It’s scary, in a beautiful way” those were Shaden’s word, the co-founder of Inkitab one of the organizers of Noon Book Fair, or as I like to call them: the little-known soldiers. I thought I understood what she meant when she said it over the phone, but when I got to the site an hour later and saw the culture street finally living up to its name and thronging with thirsty book lovers, instead of just hungry employees during a typical lunch break on any given day in Shmeisani, only then I could say I knew what she meant.

                                             picture via @Mujahed_S

I had the great pleasure and honor to be part of Noon Book Fair, Inkitab’s second book fair for used books, as I was there to sign my novel قبل السفر, which I had talked about here an awful lot. I’ve had a book signing before but this  one was something else. It was the whole spirit prevailing over the place, the eagerness and excitement in the air, the happiness you can see in the faces of those who worked so hard to make it happen, and the familiarity you feel even with those you don’t know, but just because you know you share the same love and the same passion, and that idea everyone probably have on the back of their head: We’re a nation that actually reads. It’s like you want to yell at all these new faces: Where have you been? We should be best friends!

And then there were those asking about the book, what it’s about, and those who told me they read it and loved it, and then it started to rain and I wore that scarf over my head which made me look like a street beggar, but as you know being a writer in the Arab world is often compared to that so I would say that I looked the part. And then to the cherry on the top was this gift by a friend of mine, a handmade personalized bookmark  and I’m a sucker for handmade things, personalized gifts and bookmarks, so you can imagine how happy I was to have all the 3 in 1. Thank you, Ali!

I don’t think I have the right words to thank everyone who had worked on this, you guys are amazing and I love you, and I thank God that my I’ve crossed paths with such wonderful souls, full of passion and creativity. Keep it up!