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.
"My parents converted and refused to leave this land, but it was 1967 when my grandmother emigrated," 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 recording.

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 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?'
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, tried to hide grief, 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.