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Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Storm in Bmalke

View from my balcony in Bmalke on a clear morning

It was a serene evening. The sky was dotted with millions of shiny stars and a soft wind was blowing from the sea. Earlier in the day, it had rained sporadically, but as soon as the sun had set, the whole mood was that of tranquility and peace. I’ve been waiting for this evening for at least a month. I missed Bmalke, where we have a summer home, and was very excited that we’re going to spend the night over. The general consensus among the others who share their lives with me was that of indifference, if I don’t want to be blunt and say reluctance. I steered the car east and stepped on the pedal driving through the early night. They were quiet, all of them. I could sense that they'd rather stay in Tartous tonight. Why ruin it though. Why ask them "again" and hear about their alleged sacrifices and how good they’ve been treating me. I reverted to silence and enjoyed the light breeze from the window. Secretly, I was thinking to myself that in a little while, and after the hubbub of arriving to a deserted house would die, I’d sit in my comfortable chair, sip on a glass of Scotch on the Rocks, smoke my second cigarette of the day and eat the salted peanuts I secretly brought. I was smiling and glad that it was too dark for them to see my face. While I was making that final steep right turn into the village, I nervously perceived, along with the other occupants of the car that it was raining gingerly. “Naaah, think nothing of it”, I told the family. “As a matter of fact, this splash of rain will bring out the smells of the good earth. We’re very lucky indeed”, I added.
I reached the gate, unfastened my seatbelt and placed my foot down on the asphalt. It was at that exact moment that the order from Upstairs was sent: “Let there be rain!” I ran to the garage door and manually opened it (yes we’re backward over here, we haven’t heard of automatic garage doors). I made it back to the car like a wet sponge. I was drenched. Once inside the garage, my passengers disembarked and waited for me to do something, sly looks of disdain forming on their faces. “Don’t worry”, I yelled as joyfully as I could muster, “I’ll run downstairs and open the door for you. Just wait a minute”. The total distance, including the exposed stairs in the garden leading downstairs to the house, is probably less than 30 meters. I ran it, blinded by the heaviest rain I’ve seen in my life, and made it soaking wet to the front door. I inserted the key, turned it, opened the door, switched on the light and readied myself to convey the good news. My mouth was half open when lightening struck. The power was gone. Hail, the size of golf balls, started pounding around me and what must’ve been a series of 20 or 30 lightening bolts in the span of a few minutes ensued. All hell broke loose. I could hear way in the distance a girl howling like a wolf. She was crying, but trust me, it was the ugliest most irritating voice to come out of a human. An adult female voice was letting go of a stream of vocabulary similar to what we see in comic strips (#!~…x#*!@{^@@@). Two other kids were shouting in unison and I didn’t know who’s who. I felt as if I were on the set of a disaster movie. I couldn’t move, let alone try to soothe them. My cries were lost in the storm, but make no mistake, I could hear them well enough for shivers to run through my back. They sounded as if they were ready to skin me alive. I stumbled over a candle and lit the doorway with it, then, I made another heroic dash to the utility shed. In the darkness, I was finally able to bring the little generator to life. Looking like a wet heavily stepped over floor mat, I arrived to the garage to bring them the good news, “I… I.. restored power”, I mumbled feebly. Four pairs of eyes were looking angrily at me, as if I conspired with God Almighty to ruin their evening. They cornered me and bombarded me with yet another rivulet of cuss words. “Take us back… TaKE uS baCk Now Wla (Wla being a demeaning way of calling someone in Tartoussi) .” I really pitied myself. I was brooding over my options, and fast. A quick decision was in dire need before I loose total control of the situation. Looking deeply hurt and taking advantage of the rain droplets on my face (may be I can make them look like my own tears, I thought), I said: “OK, wait here in the safety and comfort of the garage. I’ll go downstairs again, bring back all the stuff I took with me on my first run… the 2 heavy nightbags I carried and almost hurt myself when I almost slipped on the wet steps. You just wait, I need to shut the doors, turn off the lights then retire the generator. It might take me a while, cause I wouldn’t be able to see well in the utility shed after the power goes off again. I need to be careful and I might need to make more than one trip you know… You just stay here cozy and warm… I’ll be back… Ya Allah”. “Come on say it damn it. Say we’re coming down with you”, I was fuming under my breath.
It finally came, “Oh for heaven’s sake, we’ll stay, but you’ll pay for it…” That was OmFares, and believe me I paid and will keep paying for it for as long as I shall live. As soon as we were all safely in and I closed the door behind us, the generator quit. It ran out of gas. Cries of anger and shouts of dismay reverberated in loud harmony with thunder. But, really, who gives a damn! I was sitting, wet clothes and all, on my favorite chair, slowly sipping the amber fluid, puffing smoke in the darkness and munching on the salted peanuts, totally absorbed in a state of elated ecstasy.

18 comments:

Yazan said...

The perfect amount of selfishness, and abuse of other people's good hearts... :)

u so much remind me of dad. u can not believe, he would do ANYTHING to get us to that place in the outskirts of kassab, and just sip his "arak"...


I'm telling u, u can never imagine the feeling of those kids of urs, I know the feeling I've been there, and I'm tellin u, u should highly appreciate them...highly...

abufares said...

So Mr. Yazan
Your dad and I are the bad guys. While on the other hand, you and my kids are the good ones.
Rabbou Wa Et3aboo...
I said I'm paying for it and will continue to pay, but naaah, that's not enough for you.
You'll pay for it yourself, when we meet:)

I love Munich said...

What an ordeal ... WOW - you describe it so vividly, I can literally picture the horror-scene! It sounds like nobody of your family enjoys the more rugged outdoors except you ... it's a shame! I spent FANTASTIC times even without a solid roof over my head while camping with a tiny tent and cooking food outside on an even tinier (in relation of course) burner!

I guess next time better leave them home ... and make yourself a GREAT and QUIET evening alone .. with Scotch and salted peanuts - and the breathtaking view you have from your house! I bet the stars you can see at night above you seem so close that you feel you can just grab them ... how fantastic - a dream!!
I guess they don't understand what they are missing - it's THEY who loose out ... but again, not everyone likes the same!

Thanks so much for a GREAT post, wonderfully narrated!! :)

abufares said...

Hi Karin
The house in Bmalke would not fit in the rugged outdoors category. Still, I'm the only one who likes it and wish to return over and over again.
Bmalke is such a charming village, it certainly deserves its own separate post. Coming Soon.
Thank you for dropping by.

Shannon said...

Oh, I know this wasn't meant to be so funny, but I really can't help chuckling. What a great story! I can really feel your wife's burning anger through your words. Whew- I hope the trip was still worth it after your payback!

Hey, I don't even have a garage, let alone an automatic garage door opener. Talk about backwards! :D

abufares said...

Hi Shannon
It's true! It wasn't funny then, it is now. For me at least.
Was it worth it? I really don't know. I mean for a while, I would loose any argument in trying to convince Omfares & the kids to do it again.
Not having an automatic garage opener is one more thing that drives my wife mad about the place. I told her that I posted the story in the hope that she reads it and gets it out of her system.
Well you know, women...

Ascribo said...

Hahaha...I can imagine you running under the showers with all your "paraphernalia" with you, almost slipping at the three steps (they're three, aren't they?)

I can easily imagine how crazy it was, for even in Tartous it was raining cats and dogs..

But poor kids! You needn't spoil their evening with your dreams of a romantic night! Next time I see them I'll advise them to speak out for themselves and fight to impose their kids-point-of-view-democracy...

Nice one Abufares ;-)

abufares said...

Hi Ascribo
You haven't been in Bmalke for a long time.
What do you mean 3 steps. They are, if I'm not mistaken 13 steps. You go down 10 steps then another 3 to the right after the landing.
Out of 365 days the kids win at least 360 days. I'd be lucky if I can really get 5 days a year to go my way.

Serena said...

We also had a thunderstorm in my part of the world the other day! Amazing coincidence!

abufares said...

Hi Serena
For the last week ,we've been having one thunderstorm after the other.
October is the beginning of the rain season here in Syria. It's also, along with November, my favorite month.
Thank you for passing by, a light breeze... in a thunderstorm.

Anonymous said...

Funny as always Abufares!! I can hear the violin music in the background for the misfortunes you had to go through. Bmalke IS a very nice place indeed, and I would not mind living there.
Anyway, you know, it is only today, the first of November, that I realised I should click on the "refresh" button on my browser to read your last two posts. I have your blog in my bookmarks, and I kept just bringing your Eid post. I was starting to get worried that you have not written for a few days until I "clicked".
One more thing, I am trying to find the, not the time, but the "oumf" to start my blog!! I should at least tell you about my adventures with my honey bees, my new hobby!! All the delicous honey I am getting from them ...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was Abu Abdo in the above comment!!

abufares said...

Hi Abu Abdo
Hey welcome man. Glad to read you again. I'm sorry for being so out of touch with you. I'm going through hell with my internet connection. It's one day no, one day no :) did you get it???
I look forward your next visit over here. How come you didn't comment on the Arak. Did you Repent that much, another :)

Ziggy said...

When I was in college in Sham, my best friend was from Bmalkeh, and I would visit her family there sometimes. I remember thinking how beautiful it was, the village, and that one day when I grew up I would buy a summer home there :)

abufares said...

@Ziggy
Very interesting that you went to college in Sham.
I hope to read more about you on your blog which I visited early this morning.

Ziggy said...

Yes, I ended up there in a very interesting way lol... I plan to start writing more on my blog now that Im unemployed :-D I hope you'll come and visit it often, I would be honored

Anonymous said...

I love storms in the countryside. :)

abufares said...

I love Anonymous in the countryside :-)