Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Syrian Road Warrior

The droning hum of the engine untied the knotted tension in my temple. The undulating sway put me at ease. The froth, combed back from the brow of the wooden boat, sprayed my face with vigor and delight. I was in my natural habitat making way to the island of Arwad. I rather work with them for the rest of my life, the fishermen who live for their day, basking in the mercy of God in the dead of night to put bread upon a table. Nothing makes me happier than closing a deal worth a few grains of sands in dollars and cents, worth priceless gems in personal gratification and human fulfillment.


I sped along the highway northbound to Lattakia. I was dealing again. A hundred minutes of driving back and forth for a five-minute meeting. I had to shake hands, twice. I counted my fingers each time afterward. As the sun dipped in the sea, I rolled the windows down and a westerly breeze condoled my senses. I headed home for an urgent shower.

I don't get on the road just for the sake of making a living. In fact I brushed work away, jumped in my car and headed to Kadmous (elev. 1000 m & 60 km to the northeast of Tartous). I had to drive a little fast to make it on time for the funeral. The cheerful vibrant girl everybody liked in the office lost her father. As the progression to the lonely graveyard slowly moved forward I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of the country and the people. Rest in peace old man, I hope heaven is as beautiful as the village where you lived and died.


I left my car in an underground garage as soon as I reached Damascus early in the morning. I hip hopped in small yellow cabs all over the city from one meeting to the other chomping through the day. I won some and lost a few but in the back of my mind I was anticipating the fall of night. I was to meet two young lovebirds and a fascinating woman. I checked in, crashed in bed with the setting sun, dozed for an hour, soaked in hot water, dressed up and stepped out in the tantalizingly warm evening.

A brief and exhilarating encounter in a quiet restaurant made me swell with delight of my Syria, crimson rose in a thicket of thorns, convivial lighthouse among minarets and spires, cradle of civilization. I became more aware of the smells of the good earth, of the sweat of the Fellaheen in far-away fields, of enchanting Zalghoutas from a village wedding, of fishing nets pregnant with fresh bounties from the emerald sea, of leaning back for support on centuries of glorious Damascene civility, of leaping forward and reaching for the distant stars and beyond, of my birthright to soar above it all with pride and dignity. No force, past, present or yet to be can take that away from me, nor can it keep me down in the nether land where lowly chameleons crawl.


I rest assured that I am here to stay long after I am gone. I once taught the whole world how to read and now I glibly write, using the same words I've invented millennia ago, how simple it is to love a mountain or a vineyard like a father or a child. I roam Syria for work and play. I sleep well as I am fully aware that neither magnificent foreign foe nor domestic scum of the earth can take anything away from me, from millions like me. With eloquent pens in hands and mighty swords in sheaths, we are the invincible warriors.

29 comments:

KJ said...

Made me cry there man. It is just beyond my imagination to imagine how heavenly it would be to experience what I did when I was there for a few days, and here you are narrating a lifetime of it :)

God bless the earth

Naji said...

Wow dude...!
"...neither magnificent foreign foes nor the local scum of the earth can take anything away from me..." I really like that... reminds me of what my father used to say and, hence, of the reason I am still stuck in Syria... although sometimes I wonder...!!

I guess I should write more since I am abroad right now... won't be able to accsess blogs so easily when I get back to beloved Syria...!! See what I mean??!

Naji said...

Even better: "...of leaping forward and reaching for the distant stars and beyond, of my birthright to soar above it all with pride and dignity. No force, past, present or yet to be can take that away from me, nor can it keep me down in the nether land where lowly chameleons crawl.", although it says more about you as a person than as merely another Syrian. That's why I love you man...!!

Wassim said...

Wow, this is a very literary and expressive side I'm seeing to you Abu Fares..I find this strangely.. arousing ;)

"I sleep well as I am fully aware that neither magnificent foreign foes nor the local scum of the earth can take anything away from me, from millions like me. With eloquent pens in hands and mighty swords in sheaths, we are the invincible warriors."

Nice line..

abufares said...

Don't Cry for Me KJ... :-)
God bless our "good" earth indeed.

abufares said...

Naji, I missed you man!
It's been some time.
You're right, you should write more. The Syrian blogsphere would be a richer place with the addition of your own blog.
I, too, love you my friend.
Don't leave us without a word again.

abufares said...

Wassim
That's how I see us... Invincibles!
In a humble, human, down to earth sort of way.

Wassim said...

We are indeed Abu Fares. I second that emotion, we just need more people to remember that.

saint said...

Wonderful prose, as usual and it is very touching especially for nostalgic expat. I wished I could read a similar prose in Arabic such yours, if you happen to read one, please tell us about.
I would guess, as I may hope, that the best weapon to encounter scum low lives and self deficiency is social narcissism and hopping for other to wake up to that.
Someone said: "To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward."
What nice about your prose, you look at the present with hope.

abufares said...

Saint
I have always blamed myself for not having read enough Arabic literature, and by that I mean the classics.
I thank you for what you think of my prose, but it should and could never exceed my true love for the people and the land.
I'm in no way a perfect person, in fact I'm far from it. Yet, true love is the only way to take us there, perfection I mean.
I lived and meant every word written. I guess this added to its authenticity. The subject itself is too beautiful not to make me write well :-)

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Man!
This is the first post I am reading for you here at home Abu Fares; I can\'t but be humble by your tenacity and candidness. You my friend, and the crimsons you\'ve met, are the true roses in the field of thistles.
The earth is groaning, for her impious sons are letting her down, but she\'s not gonna die as long as the other pious are alive and writing….

God bless you!

abufares said...

Welcome Home DJ
We should meet soon inshallah, first on your grounds then on mine as agreed.
Do you think you might get hitched before I make it to Aleppo? If you did, you might not have time for me, hahaha...

Rime said...

Babies and mobile phones are not blog-friendly. I read your post very soon after it was online, wanting to write a comment immediately, but baby khanom called. I spent the next hours thinking about that post as I took care of her and played with her. As she finally took her nap, I was finally able to check my mobile, which got me thinking even more about this post, because of a line, simple yet meaningful, dropped by a friend. Such was the beautiful banality of my day, and such were the moving depths of my thoughts.

Now, lost for words, I want to repeat what I've told you once before: nobody describes life like you do. And Syria means a lot more to me, more and more.

The Syrian Brit said...

Your post, my friend, reminded me of a comment you made on a post I had written back in February (http://syrianbrit.blogspot.com/2007/02/proud-to-be-syrian-yet-another-reason.html)..
Your words were: 'It's so sad that some of us only see the weeds in a beautiful field of golden wheat'..
You have demonstrated how you never fail to see the golden wheat, even if the weeds have become so rampant...
Delightfully deicate, and superbly written.. as usual, of course..

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Don’t worry Abu Fares; given the pace things are moving at now, we might as well meet next year before I even get engaged…
Waiting for ya:-)

Omar said...

I'm gonna have to agree with Rime. You can put beauty into anything by describing with your eloquent words. Your posts make me want to leave this place, hop in a car and explore Syria far and wide, not for the popular places, but for the simple pleasure that often go unnoticed.

abufares said...

Rime
I might've started blogging out of vanity (I don't believe so but it is possible). However, the main the reason I'm enjoying it now is simply because it is giving me the opportunity to meet people like you. I have always thought that we Syrians are great human beings but terrible promoters. If those being paid for it are doing such a lousy job, certainly we, the volunteers, have all what it takes to excel at it.
It's writings such as yours and many other fellow bloggers that will keep our heads high, among foe and scum.

abufares said...

Syrian Brit
Oh, but I see the weeds all the time. I purposely ignore them though.
We were never a perfect society but while others have an easier going at it we are chiseling our way with tenacity and persistence.
The serene golden field might be harder to discern but it's still in our collective heart. Whether on the outside or from on the inside, we were brought together by our common love for the authentic place and the real people.

abufares said...

Omar
I missed your words. My post was a simple reminder to something you already know.

Lujayn said...

Abu Fares, thanks for the ride. you always manage to convey a tantalizing picture, enough to make me want to jump on a plane and go to the places you mention. but somehow i dont think i'll find them, except if you came along. :)

Syrian in London said...

Abufares, I couldn\'t have put it better (and I doubt if anyone else can) I think we all, inside and outside Syria try to see the rose although this can be a bit difficult at times but the writings of you and other fellow bloggers definitely makes the task much easier.
Thanks for a great blog and a wonderful session.

abufares said...

Lujayn
Glad you enjoyed the quick ride.
I'll be very glad to go along with you one of these days.

abufares said...

SiL
I'm so happy to have had the opportunity.
I look forward reading more of you and regularly.
Take care :-)

david santos said...

My friend, Please!

Send an email to the Brazil embassj your country and repor the injustice that the brazilian courts are making with this girl
Release on Flavia’s accident and status of the process.

The resignation is to stop the evolution. (David Santos in times without end)

Thank you

Karin said...

Brilliant dearest friend, simply brilliant!
I can understand your feeling so well .... you're right, so right!!!

My younger son safely arrived yesterday ... he's fantastic! I am so happy he's with us now - I missed him terribly!

BEST regards to Maha!!

abufares said...

@ David Santos
I will support you in any just cause you follow. I'll check your blog to see if you have more information about this topic so that I know what we're talking about.
Ciao my friend.

abufares said...

@ Karin
So happy to hear from you. We all send you love, hugs and kisses.
Congratulations on the arrival of your son. I hope you enjoy the best of times together.

abufares said...

@ Kaya
Wah Wah to you dear Kaya.
I have some bad news for you though, the older they get the harder it becomes.
I am overwhelmed with work and family. I have very little time for myself. Not always though. I'll try to break free and write something in the next couple of days.
Whatever I write, my next post is dedicated to you.

kaya said...

Wah Wah!(espression of appreciation in my country). what poetry, what beauty. With all the words coursing through my veins, I am so mentally exhausted that I cant even think of the words.
I envy you at times, that you have the freedom to soar like an eagle, and the luxury to be able to write more than four letter words.
Sigh!
When will my kids grow up, when will these guests depart, when can I have a moment to talk to my soul......