Paul Humphreys, the rock synthesizer in OMD-Crush, Stoney Jackson, who played Aaron in “Tales from the Crypt” and Abu Fares, a man of obscure talents were all born on the same day today, many years ago.
It was an eerie night in that abode by the sea. The winds were howling like a pack of famished wolves. A forgotten open shutter was screaming on its hinges somewhere in a nearby house. Heavy waves were pounding the beaches and a blinding rain was drenching the sleepy town. Power and telephone lines were down. The pitch black of night was incessantly pierced by blinding flashes of lightening, when all of a sudden, I decided to come to this world. Luckily for mother, there was a doctor in the house. She woke him up around 4:00AM and broke the news. “It’s time”, she said. Then and there, in that bygone western bedroom with a veranda overlooking the eternal sea, the youngest of four was born at the hands of his father.
Legend has it that I was a difficult child. As soon as I started crawling I wanted to get out of the door. So be it, they thought. They placed a small park (cage) on the stairs landing and put me in. There, the rest of the family could go on with their daily lives without being constantly pestered by my loud crying. The staircase faced west and from ground level up an array of small windows gave me a perfect aquatic view.
My earliest memories involve the sea. I have no idea when I first learned how to swim. I was still at a pre-school age when I was liberated to fritter most of the summer days with the neighborhood boys on a short stretch of beach not very far from home. Someone would fetch me eventually and bring me a Zaatar or a Labne sandwich. To try and get me home before sunset was to no avail.
Although I came from an eminent and mannerly family, I chose to grow up on the streets, on the beach and in the countryside of Tartous. Sending me to boarding school was the least my parents could do to ingrain some civility in me. Even that could not hold me for long though. My siblings stayed true to their proper upbringing and made it all the way to complete their formal education in the Franco-Lebanese system. I was held for only five years, when all involved realized the futility in aspiring for more. I was released unconditionally.
My homecoming to Tartous was my first personal triumph in life. When I left again, it was my second success and it was an exciting journey to America. I returned as simply as I had left, by my own choice, and Tartous would never leave me even when I go away now and again. I am not only a tartoussi, I have accomplished the most challenging feat of all: I am The Real Tartoussi.
There’s a storm brewing out there, it’s 4:00AM and I’ve just turned one year older.
chocolate-icecream cake for Abu Fares