Just Ask

Leaning back into the chair once again, I continued scribbling notes on my lovingly fingered blue notepad as the awards drawled on. Organizations of great merit, people of great actions, communities of great spirit…on and on.

I had managed to break the monotony of the announcements with some enthusiastic conversation with my neighbor in the chair to my right. She was a middle age woman, of Christian background, with perfectly peppered grey and white hair and pair of dark brown spectacles perched at the edge of her nose. We talked of books and travel, schooling and languages, diversity and tolerance, and of course how she wound about coming to this event celebrating Muslim achievement in the nation. She asked me about my background, and studies and everything in between; and I the same. And oh, how we became fast friends in that hour of conversation!

And round about the time I had turned my attention back to my notes and her, contemplatively back to the stage, I sensed her turning her head towards me. Then very gently she said, almost tentatively, “And one more thing, you seem like a very friendly person so may I ask, why do you wear that on your face?”.

And under that, I smiled, because it’s sincere curiosity like hers that makes the world go round. I really do appreciate, that instead of shy glances and awkward conversations, when people just genuinely ask. Because, I really would love to tell you why. And that’s exactly what I said❤️

Street Corner Majlis

Tottering at the edge of his two big toes, the sandal swung dangerously close to falling off of it’s owners dangling limb. Meanwhile, quite regally intact, the rest of the man’s body lay generously sprawled on the tattered red and brown majlis. His right arm was propped up on a hard cushion with a a clear finjan of freshly – poured, steaming shai enclosed in his thin fingers. I could still see the frothy white bubbles surfacing at the top of the dark brown liquid. The other hand, resting on his hip held a not as delectable of an article, a grey cigarettes stub of a thing, which he raised to his darkened lips between slurps from his cup and cackles between his other lazing comrades.

In the middle of the junction of sofas was a small brown table, with a badly peeling varnish that revealed an ugly tan wood underneath its once glossy covering. Draped along one edge was some semblance of a shemagh and atop that, an array of old black and blue Motorola and Nokia phones. A skinny cat of fur colour quite the semblance of old dish water, sat scrunched beneath the tassels hanging from the cloth above, tickling her fur and causing her to twitch spasmodically in relative annoyance. As I rushed passed this calm scene, my clothes rustled , awakening her from her reverie and bestowing me with a mean glare from her squinted eyes. I replied to the mumbled salam that had been offered and clutching my armload of books towards me I slipped away from the timeless scene. I didn’t have time to study annoyed cats and lazy tea sippers; in the next building my math class awaited. 🙂

Presence

Impassioned words and heartfelt motions,

met with the devoid, wandering eye and occasional puppet like smile.

You, hypocritically entertaining ideas, your mind never pondered to even conceive. And emotions, too rooted to ever wistfully call upon the chambers of your heart.

If it’s too much to ask for your presence, at least honor me with your kind release from the torture of our baseless conversation.

Beach

Processed with MOLDIV

The mornings suns rays glancing of the sparkling blue waters

Processed with MOLDIV

Midair

Processed with MOLDIV

And aloft on the balcony

img_3605

More dancing, swooping gulls

img_3348

Stroll at night on the boardwalk

Processed with MOLDIV

Birds eye view

Processed with MOLDIV

and alas, the drive home.

Mint Girl

IMG_3601.JPG

The window fogged up in hurried spasms, as the little girl pressed up closely to its pane, behind the thick, red curtains. Her nose made a smudgy imprint on the clouded glass as she impatiently waited for the footsteps to fade out of the room. Finally, hearing the click of the light switch, she stealthily crept out of her hideaway. She daintily made her way across the room to the low, cluttered nightstand. A dusty lamp, magazines, pins, hats, buttons, reading glasses, gloves, and countless other tinkerings flooded the top of the makeshift dresser, so it’s bottom was almost indecipherable. Dainty fingers carefully picked through the items, fingering each one lovingly, yet leaving no item soiled, or mussed  in their wake. The girls digits were indeed dexterous masters of their graceful art.

By and by, after her initial voracious intrigues in the array of goods on the table were settled, she reached for a frayed, blue plastic bag leaning against the base of the lamp. Slowly extending her hand within the bag, so as to not disturb its crinkly-noised nature, she took out a small, wrapped parcel from within. And returning the bag dutifully to its original position, she settled back against the frame of the giant golden bed behind her, in order to appreciate what she anticipated next. Peeling away the speckled cream wrapper, she exposed a perfectly round, golden ball. Her pink tongue took an irrisitable dash at the sticky goodness, tingling it’s buds in delight. The girls mouth burst with the flavors of menthol and pepper, and a sugary sweetness too, to soften the fiery sting. A smile of contentment traced its way along her face, and she curled up to read one of the big magazines. ~

An hour later, gruff footsteps traced along the same path very little ones, had patterned upon not long ago. Entering his room he found his little girl leaning on the frame of his bed, on the knotted rough carpet of his bedside, magazine in hand. His old eyes shone as he beheld the portrait of life and its curiosities before him. Gently dislodging the book from her dimpled hands, he gathered her limp body in his arms and layed her on the canopy of his bed, then bent down to kiss her warm cheek. A breath of menthol wafted up to his nostrils as he did so, and his weathered face cracked into a loving smile. She would forever be the little mint girl.

Warning! :Viewer Discretion Advised

img_3177

….’the following content may upset or disturb some viewers’….

The excerpt of writing that I see placidly take over the screen before any video on Aleppo. It’s enraging.

Does the way the muddled crimson blood streaks against the backdrop of gray and dust,

the soft, ashy powder of crushed cinder rubble settles into the matted hair,

the limp, dust caked arms dangle from between the rail of the tailgate on the old pick up truck,

the harrowing, yet resilient screams of ‘God is Greater’ amidst the symphony of shelling in the near horizon,

the trickling streams of tears that plunge through the soot covered cheeks, on taut and wrinkled ones,

the bone chilling wails of prayer, between makeshift surgical operations, beseeching God’s might…of the oppressed against the oppressor and all those whose complacency allowed their torture,

the way the cracked, dry skin on the skinny elbow of a boy is quenched with the river of the rich ichor from the corpse of his sister, as he embraces her in deafening silence, filling all the crevices with immortal, gluttonous pain,

how the tear stained, dimpled finger of a son pointing to the other end of the road, covered in a thick, yellow-green fog, waiting to behold his father emerge from its smudgy, greedy grope, curls up when the man he clings to, yells more to himself than the child, “No, my son!! No more…Baba has gone to Paradise!”

how the jaw of the youth clenches clamping all possible passageways for the river of emotions to spill out, into the alleyways cold and cramped with ever lingering, nauseating scent of death, as he drags away worn rags of the backs of bodies,

the way the girls scavenge and tinker with the shiny, yellow-gray metal trinkets made from the blasted remnants of shrapnel in the piles of marble,

the vast eyes of a people with such a prodgidal extent of courage, rawness,strength, grit, reliance and faith in God,

scare you?

Cause you to feel the excruciating pangs of conscience strike with every piercing shriek and woeful moan? Is your mind too soft, state too fragile to be ruffled by such repulsive phenomenas, as fear and blood? With every trusting gaze and bloodied porcelain corpse does your eye aghast, wander, your hand reaching to hurriedly block the sight from your device?

Well, I suggest you withdraw. Yes, the following content should disturb and upset the viewer and should still be viewed. And as a result, acted upon.

(Oh Allah, help the oppressed, imprisoned, wounded and sick, hungry and innocent of your slaves—upon every inch of your lands and beneath every stretch of your heavens. Oh Allah, amongst those all are people who are fighting for You, so steady their marks when they may falter, their feet when the resounding echoes of the oppressor shake them, make firm their hearts upon your path, grant them clarity in times of uncertainty and ignorance, and equip with the strength of the lions of our past. As for us, Oh Allah, grant us the ability to assist them in whatever way possible. If you blessed us with wealth, allow us to give . If you blessed us with time, allow us to volunteer. If you blessed us with knowledge, allow us to spread it. If you blessed us with proximity to those in need, allow us to utilise every instance and opportunity. Oh Allah, allow us to be active in a time where venting, like this, is not followed up with any real change. And the heart felt emotions expressed in screen, hypocritically, do not match the insolent stubbornness, when practical avenues of help are brought forth. Oh Allah, satiate the tongues, fulfill the stomachs, bind the wounds, cool the eyes of the oppressed, and grant them eternal victory. Oh Allah, let not the eyes of the oppressor sleep with comfort, when the echoes of their shelling tear apart the hand of mother and daughter, and their ammunition snatch father and son. May they pay for their blood, in due pay. Oh Fire, be cool and sanctified for the people of Halab!)

يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدَاً وسَلاماً على أهلِ حَلَبْ

#حلب_لن_تُزال

*Links to some sites to keep up to date with on the ground news and ways to help, will be in the comments below.