أبواب قديمة

"حقل تجارب؟ مَعلَمٌ للأجانب؟"
. شَرَدَت هيَ في ذهنها وفي جسمها

بيتها الجديد كاد يلمع مع أطباق الكريستال التي جلبتها من بيوت أقاربها. لم تجلب ساعة خوفاً من الوقت  أن يتبع عقاربها. كان البيت يأخذ أنفاسه الأولى بينما كان قلبها يركض. تمددت على شرفته في ليلة مولده وقالت: أُصمد.

قيل ويقال أن امرأة تعيش وحيدة الحي والحال. سألوها أين ولي أمرها؟ فقالت أنا. قالوا كم فات من عمرها؟ قالت أربعين سنة. كانت تعارك عقليتهم المنغلقة عندما فتحت باب شرفتها، وعندما تمايلت في غرفتها وجعلت من نافذتها منفذاً. لم يسألها أحد عن ارتطامها بالأرض عندما انتهت الموسيقى. كانت تستيقظ لتذهب الى عملها وأحيانا الى الحديقة. لم تعلم ان كان هذا الصبر يبقيها أو تبقيه، كل ما كانت تعلمه انها كانت منه وفيه. ربما ورثته من جينات والدتها، فهي امرأة لم يستعجلها شيئ الّا الموت.

قبل أعوام، وضعت والدتها النبات على شرفة بيتهم القديم لكي يستنشق المطر. كان ذلك قبل ترهل قدميها وتأهل وَلَديَها الى المرحلة الدراسية. كانت الابنة تستيقظ فتُنسي والدتها أيام القحط وما كسر من أطباقها النحاسية. فقد كان اللين في أيامها حلم، وأصبح في أيامنا اسم.

."
لا تنزلي من منزلي قبل قدومي،" قالت في صدرها المغلق على أبواب قديمة، "وابقي المفتاح على بابنا"

 
قبل بضعة أيام ويوم، كنت معها وأختها وكانوا يداعبون النوم. قالت: "ذهبت بي والدتي الى بيتها في الصِغَر. قالت بيتي هناك في فلسطين، صدري هناك في الحجر، وكم أشتقت للهواء... فمشينا وتحاشينا من صادفنا وما عاصفنا من الرياح. وحين وصولنا ذرفت جفونها وولفت شجونها على بقعة من أرض. ورجعت بي من قرى غير قراها، وأعيُن لم تكن هنا لتراها.

 .
شَرَدَت هيَ في ذهنها وفي جسمها... "يقولون ثورتي قادمة،" قالت له



Meena (Part XII)

Back at the appartment downtown, the scent of new love was stronger than that of lavender in the guest room and a meal with spices and lime. Diya was mixing ingredients and setting fire on steel when two men arrived on time.
"Elhamdillah 'al salameh!" said Darwich once Badr walked in.
"How was the land of queens?" Meena followed with sarcasm.

 Later that day, Meena went through a night of unsafety caused by a stranger he was exposed to. He was a lover thrown in a battle he rode himself into. It was a time that reminded him of another. Diya stayed up that night worried after a phone call from Meena's mother. Soon enough, Meena came in holding the door's handle as his feet dropped. Diya could smell his bitter breath when he helped him up.
"You got me worried about you."
"It's okay, I'm okay."
"Is that a bruise?!" Diya said noticing redness on Meena's pale shoulder, but Meena shook his hands off and walked to the toilet.
"I think I called my mother."
"She called asking about you."
"Tell her I'm fine!"
Meena said, shutting the door behind him.

If I'd tell Diya's story it would be one of an over-weight body and mind, a good friend, a punk rock fashioned hair stylist going into law, but it wouldn't be one of a lover. He didn't feel love in red, roses or a lifetime of disguise. He didn't feel love under covers. Maybe for some, independence can take bigger shapes, and in a society that believes a man's maturity is like a loaded gun, there are men that rot like grapes.

Meena once said: "There's a sense of insight in involving with human bodies while at the same time evolving with your own. You come to see that all bodies are altered; that in your inexpressive, compressed and affected body, you're most heterogeneous."
Only through that view did I see how Diya was content.

حنّـا

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اسمي حنّا. امرأة في العشرينات. في كِتمان ويعيشني اثنان. منفردة ومتفرّدة، متفرّغة أيضاً. أحيانا أُحاسب النهار بالليل وأتركهما يتعاتبان، وأستغرق بقيلولة تلحقها دقائق من التفكير والتكفير. أنا مثل عينايَ: متسلطة. لي عادة اللجوء الى الغير. لم يبقى صديق _رجلا أو امراة_ سند لي. بيتي صغيرٌ كفعلي ونعلي. كصدري الذي يسع عالم من الحنين، قبل الفراق وبعد الفراق، يتجلّى في اصوات الأنين

أنني متفاوتة القول وخشنة الملمس. متذمرة ومن قلة بكائي أرى أن السيل استئصال. فليال عدة تمددت على جانباً تحمله جبال وأُحمّله من رثائي. أُسرف في الكلام وأُسرع في السلام. كل الوجوه لي سواسية. فتلك تضع الكحل في استنفار والأُخرى تتزيّن به والأُخريات والآخرين كُثُر. ما همّي! فأنا حرة، غير مرتبطة بعد الآن

ثمن حياتي كثمن كلماتي. انا لست مستقرة مالياً، او معنوياً. أروي عن أوراق ممزقة وأُمزق أوراق أُخرى. كم تَسَلّقوا شعري القصير وجسمي المتمسك بشحمه. وفائي للطبيعة وسيبقى كذلك. منها أسترق البصيرة وأنبعث الى سماء الآخرة لأبدأ من جديد

في يوم سألت الطبيعة عن نفسها أجابتني بالنسيان. تلك التي لم تصنّفني في رأيها او تضعني في الحسبان. تلك التي شربت من كأسي شفّتين، والتي هربت من عمري هريبتين. كنت اعشق جريَهَا عند الهروب. كنت ألمس جفنيها كل ليلة بشاربي الأنوثي وتحسبه رمشي. فأين الآن أمشي؟ هروبها يلحقني، أحيانا يسبقني، وأحيانا اخرى يلهث معي من دون نسيان. فالطبيعة تُنسي ولا تَنسى... أتراها تفتقدني كلما أغيب عنها؟ أيتراءى في منامها سنها، وتشيخ؟ اتراها تشتاق لي ان أعيش؟

أصبح الموت لي ديانة أعتنقها. بعدما كنت أُسميه بالافتراق وأُلبيه بنظرة لكفن لطالما كانت معارضة، أصبح يعيش ويتعايش، يزيد ويتكاثر. وأصبحت أنا مثله: صامتة. ليلة ممات قمري تركت مقاماتي الموسيقية وأخذت أصيح. انفردت بصنم وأخذت أتغزل وأتوسل. أعيديها لي يا مريم، ما لي بعدها مُريح. أو خذيني، فهناك أنا وهنا أرض التحسّر.

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اللوم يستنزف من طاقاتي، وذكرياتي. لا أُريد اللوم بعد الآن. لِمَ أُحاول التوجه لملجأ احتمالي؟ لِمَ لا أضيع أنا الأُخرى؟ ولِمَ لا أترك العنان ؟ ماذا أفعل؟
  لقد نسيت أن أرتشف القهوة بعجلة ذات يوم. فبقيت أستنزف وقت وطعم مر ونوم. وعندما تذكرت من كان ينتظرني، أسرعت له. سألت عنه سائق الشاحنة فقال لم يره.

ما به يتناسى ملامحي عندما يرى الأُخريات والآخرين؟ ينكر سنين معدودة وأفكار موعودة وجمالي. ما أن يراني يتراءاني وما ان أراه أُقبّله برغبة. أهو قُبحي؟ ام هو صبحي؟ ام هي ليلى؟ أم هل هو سؤالي؟
ان كان سينتظرني في المرة الأُخرى فلينسى ملامحي ولينظر اليَّ من جديد

لا أتخيله يقضي أوقات الاشتياق مثلي. فهو أصغر من أفعاله وأصغر من عواقبهم. الاشتياق أكبر منه. كما ان بعض الناس قلوبهم عقلانية، والبعض يبررون أخطائهم بمواقفهم.

هنالك امرأة تعرفت عليها هنا وهناك. كالطبيعة، جمعتنا الصدفة. أقول لها أن تؤمن بي، لكنها تراني متحيزة لجنس غير جنسها. مع أنني أُحبها بكل تفاصيلها. عذراء، صفراء الشعر، ناعمة الصوت. قلت لها في ليلة أنني حلمت بها، وقالت أنها حلمت بالموت. فأصبحت اسأل عنها في الليالِ الحمراء خشية بها أن تحترق. وفي ليلة اطلَقَت عليّ اسم البحر وسمَيتُها قمري المضيئ. فَسَبَحت على أطرافي ونَظَرَت الى انجرافي وقالت ما بكِ؟ قلت لا شيء

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أمثالنا لايملكون الأصدقاء" قالت صديقة لي"

ليس لاختلافنا او تجردنا او طريقتها او طريقتي، ولأكن صريحة، لا أعلم لماذا. نتوحّد بأنفسنا. نتطرق لمواضيع تلمسنا وتتلمسنا. الآخرين لا يعرفون ما ينقصهم ونحن لا نعرف ما يكثرنا.
ولكن يأتي يوم بعد سنين، يقولون ترى به الاصدقاء. يكونون مثلك ومثلي، أمّا الآخرين، حتى حينها سينظرون ويستنظرون بازدراء.

عذراء، صفراء الشعر، ناعمة الصوت، لا تشبهني. لا تفهمني ولكن تتفَهّمَني. عند خروجنا ترتدي الحجاب كمعظم نساء مجتمعي. أما أنا فشعري كالرجال، لا يغري. تحكي لي عن جارتها وعن حارتها. تحب أن ترتدي فستان أسود وترقص على سطح منزلها. ليتني اراها في اليوم مرتين، فهي تذكرني بالطبيعة، تظهر كل يوم بصورتين
 
عند تفكيري بها أتذكر حبيبي، مع انه لا يشبهها، ولا يتشبّه بها. حبيبي _مثلي_ يعيشه اثنان. ذلك ما جمعني به. فهو وأنا نعيش ونتعايش، نحب ونتحاب في حالتين، و في معظم الوقت نَترك او نُترك. وذلك ما فرّقني عنه. كنت أقنعه أن يرتدي الثوب الذي لطالما كرهت ارتدائه، قال أن ارتدائه سينزع رجولته من بين رجليه، قلت سيظهرها. حبيبي كان يخاف من جماله كخوفي من قبحي. كنّا نتبلور في السرير كمفرد منسي، ثم نتفرّق، فننام اثنين

لن أشتاق له بعد اليوم

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أنا والخسارة لا نسير يد بيَد، بل نتقلّب سوياً. أقول لها ألّا ترجع، فتقول ما بقي منّي إلّا أنتِ. أقول أنا أيضاً، ما بقي منّي إلّا أنتِ

شتات يستولي على سلام في صدري. الجميع يجهرون، الجميع مليئون بأنفسهم، أما انا فأمتلائي سرّي. مجتمعي يعتبرني شاذة عن أصل. مع انني _مثل غيري_ متوارثة. لا أريد انتقادهم فهم لا يفهمون الانتقاد ولا يسمعون ما قلّ عن مسامعهم او ما زاد. سأبقي انتقادي مع ذات وأسرار ومُكبتات وكارثة

لقد وجَدَت ذكراي زاوية او هاوية بها تترسّم. هو لا يتكلم عن علاقاته الحميمة وهي الاخرى لا تتكلم 
شقراء، تقرأ الشِعر، تتحفظ بالموت. كم اتذكرها في أوقات البعد وأوقات المماس. كان قربي منها طبيعة وقربها منّي انحياز. اذكرها عندما نامت على جلدي وعندما استدامت على مد نظري. عندما قالت انها تريدني أُمّاً ثانية لأولادها. اذهبت الى دولة أُخرى؟ اشتقت لها هي الأُخرى.

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كل ما هو سرطان _برج ومرض ومخلوق_ تبنيته. كان بِوِدّي تبني ابنة تكبر لتصبح متمردة أو ولد يكبر ليصبح مثل امه. يفاجئنا عند نومنا هذا الاله، كأنه يخاف يقظتنا

ذات يوم كانت الشقراء تشكي لي بسجع عن وجع بأحد ثدييها. فذهبت بها الى حكيم لكي نطمئن، وفي اليوم التالي جلبتُ لها حوض به مخلوق بحر يلهيها. كانت أمواج صوتها تحمل معها تيار أوتار، فحتى عند تكلمها عن المرض كانت تشفي غليلي من مريري. كم كانت جميلة وكم كانوا ثدييها يستحقان ما كان للحياة باقي. خفقان قلبها وعطرها وشطرها من سريري، جميعهم يتجزئون باشتياقي.

انزلي من مكانتك أيتها الشمس، فحرقة قلبي تقمصتك

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تراجيدية التجرّد لم تدعني أنم منذ أيام. أنتفض وحيدة في الليالي. لا أعلم من أكون من دونهم، ومن يكونون من دوني. هو هَرَب وهي سُلِبَت، ولا زلت أتَنَكَّر وأستنّكر ظنوني. كم أتمنى الخلاء أو الصحراء، حتى أنني أصبحت أتمنى البلاء. اذهبوا بسلام واتركوني


Meena (Part XI)

'You of all are mine.
You're the breath I take but never give away.
Not to the trees, not to other men and not even to you.
Like these words, you are most lonely in my mind.
You of all are mine.'


Badr was travelling to the kingdom of iron and stone to make paper. His fimilarity with planes didn't help in putting him to sleep. Instead, he opened his sketch-book to an unnamed character whom he's drawn after Meena's designs. 'Qumasha', he titled it with a smile.

"That night, I slept in Darwich's room to make sure he gets a rest for he hadn't been sleeping well. There was a past in his mind and a present not present. I found a letter under his pillow; one that his partner sent."

Meena told me that in love, when a promise has to turn to oblivion, it is most remembered. Maybe that is why he doesn't commit to love and yet he is full of love.

A week later, a man's singing voice was covered by noises in the street. He was walking home when he heard a voice calling: "Khader!"
What no one knew is that Khader had been missing someone, and what he knew is that it's the one that called his name. He walked to Diya's apartment carrying Badr's luggage. Meena, Darwich and Diya were expecting them but not what was coming.

Meena (Part X)

"If change is the only constant, then so is endurance."

Meena had dresses hung in a closet in his old room; days used to pass him by while he was sewing for his grandmother. And when he left his family home, he held only one bag of his own, and it was of her.
A year later, as he went through lives and gave ones away, his room embraced a variety of soft colors, and his designs told tales of an old resistant woman shaped in fabric, silk and feathers.

"We spent last night in our jackets, I wonder how the weather found sun."
Meena said as the tree shadows he sat below moved aside. Daylight brought more significance to Meena's figured features; it showed his wide shaped eyebrows and how they match his pomegranate and his eyes of lash.
"Sea is most beautiful in its rising," he said while telling me about a visit him and his friends made, "between the day and the night, there is a second just for it to change current and rise with its deep and rocky sides. Only then do I like the sea. Other times it's just waves."

In the past month, Darwich had taken a job that required him to move back and forth; to work in the south and love in the north. And after his wishes of a wedding outside, with black suits and white ties, he found himself betrayed by his partner; his palm left without sun, and himself pale as the moon. Even after losing Azhar, Darwich had to lose the love of his own; but with time, it only made him notice the love of others.
He began to notice how Diya's apartment smelled like coffee in the day, how him and Meena got along when they were always a difference away, how the nights they all spent with the sea meant more than his thousand secrets. And in these days, Meena consoled him with a story he hadn't mentioned in his nits; one about feelings he had for someone from the past.

"I threw it over my shoulder."
Meena said when I asked.
"Love is not inevitable or a necessity; just a temporary need for many."
So are you whole?
"I am plenty."

Meena (Part IX)

Nothing amused Darwich; not the radio nor the newspapers or the castles on the hills. His friends had tried everything to reach him, but in the face of distance, everything stands still. Darwich's relationship had taught him that, along with many other things. So a month after he disappeared wholly, when he came back talking about asking his partner's hand in matrimony, he looked like Eros set off his wings. That's what Meena said.

This interview wasn't in a studio, a hospital room or Diya's house. It was in Azhar's garden in Cairo, as Meena wanted it to be. He wore a shirt of white silk and his usual hair of Elvis Presley.

"Today is a good day;" he said as I sat down. "Badr just finished his book."
Badr writes too? I asked.
A veiled woman passed by asking for some pounds. She held a kid in her arms and a prayer in her chest that she recited.
"Comic book; he draws comics speaking in words and signs, as a way of learning sign language."

Storytelling _said Meena_ is what separates humans from other living things but also what often binds them together, and it was what all the residents of the house of wrinkles had in common. Aside from Diya's gossip and Darwich's favorite Arabic poet played in his room, Meena, Badr and Khader occasionally helped each other with words. Badr wrote his comic ideas, Khader wrote his songs and Meena wrote this.

"We pass by signs everyday; sentimental gestures, bullies judgments, a hand of someone in need... Badr's are the only ones I feel easy reading." He continued. "If my body is the only part noticed in me, if the homeless are taken to jail when found because government won't give them a sanctuary, if Darwich and his partner will never be allowed to marry, then there is always Canada. But what about MY country?"

What about it?

Meena (Part VIII)

"Forced marriage has always been accompanied with a picture of a woman, even though some men suffer from it. Though given more freedom than women; some men are very much oppressed by other men."

I was wondering about Diya's appartment now that it's been rebuilt in my vision. Meena had talked about its details, scent and trails but whom did they owe this to; who owns this?
"Diya's father is a man you might know. He lives on conflicts and states the law. He got Diya this place when he moved away for college along with big expectations to chase in their desperation for knowledge. This society has one state of security, pride and shame. I think the reason I feel familiar with many faces is because they're all the same."
Meena said as he let go of the needle and the scarf, caught a cigarette between his fingers, then proceeded to tell the story of a singer.

Khader_he said_couldn't continue college and wanted to live his dream, but was baffled by an arranged marriage that lasted a year and gave birth to a life by its end. His son_Mohammed_is now seven years old. He visits Diya's place every month on a weekend.
"He once asked his mother about his father's orientation and she warned him of asking again. But I told him 'mithli' is not a curse word."

The day had become noon as Meena told me stories in and out of tune. At times, he would forget I'm facing him and I'd only be facing his words. Blind were they and often dim. I've come to know the ruin in him and it was then all I heard.

"Enough," he said, with a face filled with covers, and a smile that he would give his lovers.
"You're like Azhar; always with a question."
Unintentionally, when Meena said that, I remembered him telling me about Azhar not accepting his sexuality; that he never accepted love for he was used to hate, until hate killed him. And I thought of why Meena related Azhar's questions to mine, because one thing I knew is that mine were scripted, but his were personal.

I drank the glass of water as we set the date for the next day, carried my equipment and ideas, and told Meena to lead the way.

Meena (Part VII)

In his room of hanging fabrics and a wall-sized window, I set up the lense to Meena's silhouette and left it still for a while. Sitting on a chair; wooden and carved, he started sewing a half laced white scarf.

I had looked through the books he had by the corner; 'From Time Immemorial', 'Arab Jews',
'Book of Exodus', all set in order.
"History, family history," he clarified.

Badr came in with a glass of water (I knew a few things about Badr by now; his nationality, bisexuality and faint hearing), "marhabtain", he said with a heavy tongue and a smile, and I noticed his tree shaped earring.

Family history? I asked Meena as Badr walked out.
"It was 1967 when my grandmother emigrated, but my parents converted and chose to stay in the land of Goshen", said Meena and went silent for a minute.
In this minute I could hear the sound of the stitching fibers in his hands; the needle caught by the tip of his fingers shaping fabric soft as sand. He then continued:
"To belong to a land is to love your shadow next to its trees for you are bonded to their glue. I've always wanted to ask grandma if she does now, but then again, I have doubts that I do."

The other night, a bus was the theater where a big audience sat jaded. Meena was harrased by a man who later followed him as the lights were faded. Through the city's sidewalks and streets, his blood rushed before his feet. "Give me your number and I'll go" the man would repeat. But this wasn't a first nor a last, and like every time, Meena was saved after reaching his covers and white sheets.

"That night, there was music the minute I walked in; a piece by Washington Philips about a mother's last words to her son. Khader was dancing to it as Diya held a cake with candles lit on it. That night, I turned 21."

Meena (Part VI)

The house with wrinkles had welcomed back its company. The weather was chillier and a few clouds joined many.
One of these mornings, Khader's prayer was interrupted by Badr's call from the door. Meena was held by them from the floor and waking up from his rest. His friends knew that there are nights where Meena's heart accupies his mind; where he mixes his colors with red and white wine. And at such nights, their house would be his nest.

"We have a room designed for roses picked from Azhar's garden where Diya laid me down and told me about last night. Khader sang an original, he said. Badr met a man called Fairouz, and Darwich was somewhere out of sight. I, on the other hand, had a bottle and a story in my hand."

"We have a kitchen with sweets more than sours which Khader walked out from with a glass of coffee.
'Khod yabni,' he said to me, 'did any of you see Darwich?'"

Darwich had written a letter of apology to his partner the night before. Meena remembered being with him before he left. A year had passed since Darwich and his partner separated, but Azhar's death brought back love. It brought back time. It brought back death.

"Strut pass my eyelashes and alight on my cheek."
"We have an alley _a door way_ with a wall I wrote that on once. It has frames that no amount of pleasure can fill; no amount of tendency, no amount of ecstasy, no amount of grunts."

Meena spoke with a steady stream as he said these words; almost like a poet frees idioms too heavy to fly as birds. He then said that the next interview can be arranged at home, holding his purse and poems.

Meena (Part V)

"There was a funeral far from the city that a group of friends travelled to attend. There was a trail left on the streets of footsteps by an old friend."

"How's that for a start?"
Meena said with a grin, as I started taping.

From the car's window, Darwich's heavy skin sensed daylight as it touched his shoulder. He felt his brother's nonexistence and the air got colder. He thought of what their father's response to his hello would be, and of their mother's joy and gloom. He thought of Azhar's wish to be buried in the holy land, and smiled to the thought that it's coming true.

"The few words we spoke on the way were about our roots and how Darwich is going back to his.
'Once a plant is cut from its roots, wouldn't it be dead?' Khader asked.
'Another reason to believe in ghosts.' I said.
'I'm not a ghost, Meena!' Darwich said with a louder tone."

The next day, they woke up at checkpoints and cars were lining up in the sand. It took them hours, emotional struggle and a foreign stamp to get in Darwich's land. An hour later, they crossed by a golden dome and Darwich's eyes lit up for the first time ever since Azhar left home. On the way, he talked about an olive tree he grew around like he grew in it. And the closer they got to his house, the less his eyes lit.

"His mother_a middle aged woman with grey features and a patterned scarf_answered the door and he directly faced the ground.
'Hala!' she said. 'We don't lower our heads here, or have you forgotten?'
'No,' he faced her with his burnished forehead, cheekbones and glasses.
She took off his glasses and said: 'You look just like your brother.' She welcomed him kindheartedly and looked at us standing behind him. 'Keefku shabab?'"

Darwich ran away from home at twenty; he traveled to be with his partner, leaving school and family. So, five years later, when he shook hands with his father - a traditional man raised on resistance and loyalty for his land - he knew that that would be the only attachment they'll share.

At the funeral, the priest didn't mention the attack on the boat; Azhar's family made up a lie to follow the king's oath. And Azhar's soul rested in peace, in a land that doesn't know it.

Meena (Part IV)

Meena once told me that his job was like music played with the strings of his heart. But in a society that doesn't practice art, they were bound to be cut.

Our meeting was set on a chair and a bed. Meena was stolen from his body; his breaths were catching life, and shaping clouds had become his new hobby. Violence had forced its way and laid him down. He's been living these days counting losses and miscounting cobbles in the ground. The connection between his heart and lungs was wearing thin. He was in covers and white sheets when I walked in.
"I expected a visit from you." He said smiling - rather in pain - then held his shoulders and offered his hand.
How are you? I asked.

Newspapers had mentioned an invasion on a boat. Government detained the queens and followed the king's oath. Guns pointed at life and threatened hope. And in the end, a dancer was hung on a rope.
"I'm disgusted by this view."
He said, looking out the window with gloom.
"This public; remember their constitution and you'll forget. Make your space between their walls and you'll find no room...two days ago, Diya sat in your place with his frown. 'One of us didn't survive'; he said the news I knew deep down. Many birds had flown by, many breezes sent chills to my thigh; nature was giving, and giving often is for the return. Azhar was taken. He's become only the mosque, the garden; a memory to yearn."

We spoke for hours as he told me about Azhar and all they shared. He said sand would grow trees from his hair. And even after their house looked filled, it missed him. Even though Meena, Diya, Badr, Darwich and Khader seemed content, they wished him.

No consolation was given or understood. Meena left the bed after his feet could. Weeks later, the city was still in silence. Dignities were investigated, friends were separated and lives were faced to intolerance. But the public watched from behind the curtain. A story once told and continues to be certain.

Crowd

I see faces like yours; figured and familiar. I have feelings that lay on a shore where the sea is linear. Where there is ice that doesn't melt into water and heat isn't what it lacks. So darling, when I lose my mind in the crowd, I ask you to bring it back. 

If you find me in my comfort zone, comfort me. There is misbelonging that clings to my bones; it's under me. I've heard stories of people who dress up in costumes and go in circles; of people finding power in their unity and performing miracles. But all these stories, they brought me one thing: Monogamy. I am so lonely, and this land holds me. There is misbelonging that clings to my bones; it's under me.

Designing Boxes

Maybe there's freedom under this brick, or inside its rib. Maybe there are spaces that are meant for sand storms and others that are meant to stay shores. I color this concrete; I hide its flaws in repeat. I thought I design life and coat homes with a dress, but every time I hear the earth it asks me: why are you building boxes?

"I don't know," I answer. "I'm just an artist that ran into school paper. I have a grey scale that follows my lines, and I'm learning to make them straighter. I practice color levels and make new clocks, I'm not the builder of this box. I change it into a form of belonging, or solitude. I change it to fit a life or its substitute."

But maybe there's more under these forms. Maybe there is nature still unborn. I hear architects saying build build, and all I hear is destroy. We're depriving earth of its cores and building weights on our joy. Maybe we're lighter, and fragile. Every time I design a box I am thrown in this battle; I am emptier than this. I am emptier than this.

Series

There was a man with steady feet that only shook with the ground. Years earlier, he moved to a land that welcomed him and the wind. His house learned to imitate his stutter; the words he breathed out caused a flutter to move in. But that was not worth knowing for an air that kept on going to meet the ecstatic greet of the fall, to come back and give him one at a time, until he lost it all. 
"I would give you winter," it said, "but this stalling is what I offer before gold...and snow, well, it will only drain you cold."  
He waited. The air sent him hail at one phase, and then it only rained for days, until some man took the gold and ran away. 
                                      ---------------------- 
There was a man without a past, and a present at stake; they never met in harmony for they couldn't relate. He knew he wanted what he never had but what he held was too precious to replace. So he built a bridge over his heart that he was never to cross. Then he held on to his gold and he prayed, "God, don't ever let a man take it and run away." 
                                                          ----------------------
There was a woman called Jude, her name never put her in an absolute side of femininity or manhood, but her mind did. He told her that he's not a she. And when people called her names she'd remind him that he is stronger; that no matter how wrong she is for them, their words are wronger. She felt love with someone who felt the same. She was gold. But one day, a man took her and ran away.                        
                                                          ----------------------
There was a man in uniform. He held tables and set them together, organized plates and kept them according to the weather. He knew that food is better served with warmth and he was in a hurry, because late at night some people feel lonely and others begin to worry. In his mind, food was a statement; it was like gold and he was the messenger.
"Equality, care and trust."
Two people sat on the table, with their eyes on the man in uniform as they ordered their meal. "With a bit of tenderness on top." 
The place was filled with orders. People came from outside the borders to taste their wishes. But one night, people changed. The man in uniform came to see no gold. A man took it and ran away.

Freedom

1."I'm shipping greed off my address, you'll see tonight. There will be victims in the sky and clouds that guard your sight, but you will see and you will remember me. Last year, I wrote a poem titled struggle and left it struggling. This year, I gave my vision to take yours but you gave back nothing. I'll no longer hold your greed."

2. "Remember letting go? It's my furthest knowledge of an end; the most uncertain and clearest to comprehend. Time relates to my constant yearn, but never to my clinging. It tells me to scream when it's my turn but instead I keep on singing. I'm always saving my life and writing another story. I'm always throwing my body in a dead sea, reaching for what the tied is bringing. Remember letting go?"

3. "I want to bloom, not grow. I want to be naked to this space, not standing in the row. This system only finds me after scanning my lines. I want to be found within my rhymes. I want to discover pride in the chaos we've built under our shame. We're haunted with what we hold in and hold on to. We're flaunted with our names."

4. "Culture is a window, not a cage. It has tapestry on its edges and poetry that travels with age. It is not an identification for your alignment or morality. It is a work of art, not a test of infidelity. Be and let it be."
  لا شيء بعد هذا الطريق 

لا شيء بعد هذا الطريق
 لا حجر ولا صخر ولا ازفلت
لا شيء بعد هذا الطريق
حتى ارتطام الموج في الهواء و ازدراء الشمس من السماء
 لا شي بعد هذا الطريق 

لا شيء لي
لا عيون ولا ايادِ .. لا شي
ستذهب هذه اللحظات مع المدى.. سَيَعرِفني واعرفه
   سيعلّمني ان أنيني لا يخلق صدى ويغطيني بمعطفه
لا ضوء يكشف سرنا ولا درس يعلّم اسمنا
وسأعلم، مرة اخرى، لا شيء

Sanity

"My skin is sensing desiccation to the water in your island. I will spill my share until I settle on a chair and watch your performance."

"I'll write you a song and two and three, but then I'll choose the sea."
"You won't find titles or harmony; you can't fight my testimony. Know I left it here."
"Then I'll come back for the walls and dirty curtains."

"I'll write you a song and two..."
"You'll write a symphony but you don't sing."
"I'll find speakers for my inner strength."
"You'll find loss and more lines you cannot cross. You'll find fear."
"But I've seen worse."
"It didn't make you braver. It trapped your behavior and left you sailing for a harbor."
"I'm on land and it dried up into desert. My feet scratches silence with every touch; I walk like an awakening alert. Whisper in my ear and you'll cough. Fight this atmosphere and the oxygen won't be enough."
"I'm closer to an end than I am to a start. If this is a story, don't tell the last part."

Two people lay on the chair before the street and after my leaning body and cold feet. The ground was calling with the sound of an engine. A bus arrived to an intervention. There was them but when the doors closed, I found myself emotionally overdosed; lonely, spelling the lost and attached. I knew then that my sanity had sent me on another wrong track.

Almond and Sugar

I've saved almond and sugar next to my grave, spread them if sand holds my body and not the sea. Let my origin know me for my branches, not my roots. Don't let my name give in to this recruit. Call me a witness. Call me a notion. Call me a waste of air, but don't call me a part of this society running in slow motion. Call me an ocean.

Because death is the only thing that will put me in a box and even then it won't trap my soul. I am anger in disguise; only at this instant I am alive, but soon I'll go back to the dead. This is not a will, this is a heart and lungs suspended by a thread. There's a land under the look and our hands are over shook with deals and compromise. Here's my body, it's worth living, not dying for. It's worth giving but not to a bloody floor. Save me; face me. Don't detain my thoughts to let yours break me.

Your music is faster than my heartbeat and your darkness so obvious it looks like the sun. There's more to life than this life, and there's more to death than a soldier with a gun. I've saved almond and sugar next to my grave, spread them for sweet dreams, and for those that lived in me.

Meena (Part III)

"Truth is, I'm not guiding my story to fight its way to ears that only hear a side of it, and I don't need to find mutual feelings between me and those who don't have any. I am only setting thoughts in the air, and I have many."

"There is a room in the middle of the city that I filled and made belong to me." He said with eyes of pride.
One night, he found his lost entity and had to bury it in covers and white sheets. His friend, Diya, drove him to his place where there was walls and lace.
"I've known Diya since the swings in my school's playground; only him could've eased my weight when I needed to stand my ground. He lives on a roof Downtown with Badr, Darwish, Khader and Azhar."

Meena knew how that roof's wrinkles had ran it into the old, but it only meant that its warmth would take away all of his cold. It didn't feel like home, but it looked like it. It didn't have a closet, but it had a window with laces, where he organized his colored fabrics and stray pieces.

"Darwish is a refugee. His home is as far as mine, but checkpoints make it further away. Badr is a good student with a degree. His long black hair never turned his white spirit grey. Khader was a kid in my school but grew up to be a screw up and music was what he grew up to say; he writes symphonies that hides in notebooks and sings popular songs at busy nights where some men like to wear jewelry and leather tights. There is a casino by the sea that is known for its audience. It's our escape and our closet."
Azhar knew that. He guarded it every night to drive away the doubts. Policemen passed by every once in a while, sometimes to take someone home, other times to raid, threaten and criticize.

"Azhar is Darwich's twin brother. He was a soldier, but not one that chose it over life. As he got older, his brother left home and his father denied him until he joined his side of the fight. He was given order to arm his body, until he chose to free it."
Interrupted by a phone call that involved a "what's your name?" and "I'll call you later," Meena told me that he had to go. My last question was about his family, he said he hadn't seen them ever since he moved. He said life now is more of a song from his classics than a one from their blues.

"The streets know me well as a seller of love in spells. I have memories that didn't end well and those that ring my heart a bell whenever it's caught, but I sing hums to my skin to guide it around an object with a pulse. I don't feel love in red, roses, or in a lifetime of disguise. This is love to me, when your love is a lie."

Meena (Part II)

"Keep your prejudice in your pocket and wave goodbye with your empty hand."

It was our second meeting. Meena was dressed in tight blacks, with a red scarf falling to his wrist. I had called him several times the week before to schedule the next interview, but he had had family issues and duties that stole his time. He offered me a cigarette as he lit his and sat on the chair in front of me. I welcomed him with clean lungs and open ears.
"I have said too many goodbyes this month to say hello again." He said smiling, then continued: "I ran away."
His family couldn't rely on their hopes for him anymore, and neither could he. They wanted the soon-to-be-husband with the decent job and manners; the one that pulls his family strings together and sings in that same rhythm. That's not him, even I knew that. He came out of their shell. He now lives in his own place; his own covers.

Perhaps it's the feminine hand movements or the sound in Meena's voice that made me see he's got more of his mother's side than his father's. However, when he mentioned her, his face drew the disappointment in him; as though all of his pride was shaken by her abandonment of him.
"It plays in my mind at least every night before sleep; how my mother turned away when my father asked me to leave."
He took off his golden bracelet and put it on the table between us.
"This is hers. All I'm left of her smell."

"Ironic is not their ignorance in my eyes or my life in theirs, it's the space within. I used to despise the air between their skin and mine. I used to worry with every breath I released that I'd spill my heart. I used to hate my secret, when love was all it was to me. Freedom is wellness for the ill or rebellion to the oppressed. It is paradise for lovers and warmth to a chest. Freedom is me, in its wildest form. Their limits are gone."