My mobile's alarm blasted at two o'clock piercing the still of night and robbing precious sleep from my weary eyes. Bewildered, I slowly lifted my upper body on an elbow. I had gone to bed well past midnight but suddenly I remembered that I had a car to ride, two airplanes to board and a taxi to drop me at a hotel in Martigues. Eighteen hours later, I leaned on the reception counter of a small hotel in the south of France.
Oui demoiselle, je veux rester pour quatre nuits chez vous.

The summer sun lingers in the sky of France well past its usual day-shift of lower latitudes. My biological clock completely out of sync, my laptop rendered useless after a fatal system crash on the flight from Damascus to Paris and loneliness creeping up on me I descended the hill on foot and headed toward the docks of the small town by the sea.

I scrounged frantically for a discarded cigarette butt on the pavement and sidewalks. No city could be so clean, no place more serene. Seagulls flew overhead sending shrieks echoing against the brilliantly colored walls of quaint houses. A loose sail fluttered in the wind while a couple of hands worked feverishly to quite it down. I could taste the salt on my lips, I could taste hers in my reverie. Moored boats wobbled on the troubled surface of the canal, straining against the ropes. The creaking of wood longing to sail was too painful to hear, too realistically disturbing.
-Where would you go old sport, I asked the heaving and battered launch, if you had the choice?
-Anywhere, it pleaded silently in my head, just set me free and let me drift.

Restless, sleepless and mindless I brought back Prufrock, my PC and travel companion to life. The night died in my arms. Its last memory was of my ecstatic eyes beaming out of my tired face. Connected at last, I was craving to read.

Fares, my pride and joy, the reason I am called Abufares after all had started posting in Arabic on his blog “Superkid Chronicles”. How can I ever convey my feeling of elation about the fact that he's writing. My nine years old son, Abumaher, is perhaps the youngest on the Syrian Blogsphere today. He had only posted twice so far and I've already commented with words that betrayed my fatherly bias. Still, I needed to take a look at his virtual space again and feast my mind on adulation and hope. I am in love with people who write. I always was. And Fares, my flesh and blood, is writing.

The neat office where I was to work for the next three days was thrown on the shoulder of a mountain. It stood sentry to the estuary which led to a lake somewhere further east. I met people who became my friends, for life. We shared bread, butter and plenty of wine. The sound of our laughter drifted in the breeze toward the piers. We exchanged toasts and stories of our cities by the sea, always by the sea. For it had brought us together, seamen who would rot and die in the dry blandness of the inland. What is a woman if her hair is not weaved with seaweed, if her armpits do not taste of the salt that keeps us old mariners afloat? What of her thighs if they don't froth with zest to the tiding of my call? Her piquant breasts a safe harbor for my head where I close my eyes and still can see.

Mariyah's 26-episode story of Ghassan & Alexandra burned my second night and handed me safely to the morning sun. I would really like to find a way to tell you and myself how much I like Mariyah. Since she dropped anchor on Syplanet she had become my fantasy ship. When I sit on the outstretched rocky wharf of the corniche in Tartous her writing washes over my head and shoulders, cleansing my heart and soul. I gaze at the curved horizon and wonder about the straights she's crossing. Be tender on her Oh Goddess of the Sea and bring her smooth passage until she takes shelter while the storm withers away. Dawn crawled from beyond the hills, invading the dim corners of my room. Finally, I dosed for minutes dreaming of the intoxicating scent of Mariyah's prose.

On a concealed terrace not far from the marina half a dozen tables were laid in the shade of a giant Eucalyptus tree. I had my lunch there day after day. My hosts, perfect gentlemen, treated me like the indubitable ambassador I was to their tranquil shores. I never sampled a more toothsome cuts of entrecôte or a more divine côtelettes d'agneau in my whole life. Ah, les Français, I forgive their snobbish repute though I have only basked in their unrivaled hospitality and generosity. The twin bottles of Rosé kept us company and lulled our senses, reinforcing the simple verity that we were one family across the Mediterranean. The clinking of flushed goblets reverberated among the patrons. Salut mes amis, à votre santé.

Gabriela writes from Lima, 8000 miles away. Ever since she graced my blog with her first comment I took an immediate liking to her. I know that I will meet this intelligent, spirited and beautiful lady one day. I have no doubt. She will either come to see me in Tartous and I will walk with her through the narrow alleys of the old city or she will guide me in the Barranco district of her enchanting city. Gabriela writes inimitably in Spanish, a language I have always loved and vaguely understood. I translate her post on Google first and swallow the shabby English just for the sake of getting the general meaning behind her words. Then, I slowly sip her Latin spirit and get dizzy on her dainty melody and rhythm. Seis de enero is the blog of my lovely Peruvian Lawyer. I can't wait to be in Lima, to get in trouble then have Gabriela bail me out. She stayed with me on my third night and didn't leave until she got her message across. You can't spend your whole life traveling without going where you always wanted to. South America is a dream on hold, Gabriela reminded me.

Whenever I walked the streets of Beirut a personal unsolved mystery followed in my footsteps. Who was she and where did she come from? Evidence of her oriental paternal pedigree was abundant as traces of Islamic arcs, Arabian nights and Byzantine bells could be discerned on her slender body. Yet her mother remained behind a veil until I landed in Marseille. Ahhh, the full realization, the overwhelming sense of Déjà Vu . No wonder so many Lebanese call France their mom. Just take my word for it dear neighbors, it was never France, it was Marseille only and all along. We sat in that most famous of restaurants on the beach of the city. We were late for the topless volleyball chicks, my hosts apologized. This is where the fabled bouillabaisse de Marseille is prepared. My friends and I surrendered to the maitre who promised to take good care of us. He brought forward a glass of Pastis for me when he learned about my fondness of Arak. Then in the spirit of White we drank some of the best wine the south of France had to offer. Growing up by the sea and being raised on its scrumptious fruits all of my life I finally had to take my hat off, Chapeau bas a Marseille. A fish, if given the choice, will ask to be eaten in a bouillabaisse in Marseille after it dies and goes to heaven.

I gingerly climbed the stairs to my room on my last night in Martigues, satisfied beyond explanation, absolutely, perfectly, completely suffonsified. Only Isobel can do justice to the fleeting hours of bliss before I pack again and move. Suffonsifism has been my best kept little secret for quite some time. The apparent simplicity and effortlessness this gorgeous woman puts into her writing is mind boggling. Her posts are often short and to the point. How can she, I wonder, say it the way she does. How can she be so suffonsified and make me, a man behind a small screen halfway across the world, come to grasp the full meaning of her blog's name? I have never read anyone like Isobel. I very much doubt that I will ever read anything remotely parallel. I tiptoed through her lines, paused at her comas and came to full stop at her periods. Her divine music rushed through my mind, her priceless humanity escorted me through the blind twists and turns of a long tunnel where there was light at the end. I stood there in awe, not daring to blink for fear of missing a minute detail of her beauty within me, not believing that I went on for four nights sleepless in Martigues, forever suffonsified, and ever!


Haifaa said…
Marseille is alleged to be called Marsaa Allah. Can you believe?
Isobel said…
Abu Fares, I'm quite speechless at the moment. I think this is one of the most beautifully written posts I have ever read. We, the rest of the world, are so fortunate to have you to read. Your words are like sipping the finest of deep, rich, red wines -sweet and savory, full-bodied, with a satisfying aftertaste and a lovely intoxication. Your support and promotion of my blog means so much to me. I am truly honoured. Thank you...for everything.
Gabriela said…
My dear AbuFares:
I'm speechless. I was reading this lovely post, getting moved by your words about your son, thinking about how much I agree with your opinion of Mariyah's writing and then... I came across with my name.
I'm still speechless. I just have to say thank you very much. To be read by someone with such a sweet prose and who is so full of sensitivity is an undescriptable honor.
Gracias, un millón de gracias, un gogol de gracias.
Your Peruvian lawyer.
Antonio Tahhan said…
Hi AbuFares! What a beautiful blog you have - your words shine such a beautiful light on Syria - God bless you and your family.
I can't wait to read more of your stories :)
KJ said…
It's a blessing to know you my friend :)
Maha said…
Great blog as always, my bro!

You never cease to amaze me with your stories, and most importantly, your choice of words.

But where on earth did you "unearth" the word "Suffonsifism"? I tried looking it up in the thesaurus, including its versions (i.e. noun, verb, etc.), to no avail.

Would you please enlighten me?

Looking forward to your next interesting account.

With all my love :-)
Abufares said…
@Az3ar's Fan

Marseille is a fascinating French woman whose beauty, it seemed to me, shone in the 60's of the last century. She reminded me of the golden years of Francophone influence, les femmes fatales of the French Cinema we grew up with and fantasized about. I didn't see any god in Marseille except her patron saint on top of a mountain overlooking the sea and gracing her seafaring sons with her protection.
Abufares said…

How can I reply to you thanking me when I should and will continue to be grateful for your mere presence.
I don't say or write a word unless I mean it. I never will. Your light has shone on the darkest of recesses. Your elegant simplicity and tranquil grace will always inspire me to dream of seemingly unattainable shores.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing you here.
Take care
Abufares said…

Why speechless? I bet you have a lovely voice :-)
I have tremendously enjoyed your writing during my travel and will do so again as early as next week when I take wing again to a new ancient land.
Until then my Peruvian friend and "lawyer" hasta luego from Tartous.
Abufares said…
@Antonio Tahhan

Thank you Antonio for your kind words and your much appreciated visit to my blog.
I hope to see you again.
Abufares said…
Ahhh, you might think that your SMS has gone unnoticed my friend but it helped me tremendously set the mood to write this post.
Thank you for walking with me along that pier.
Abufares said…
@Maha (my dear sister)

Words are but mirrors into our soul. Unearthing "Suffonism" is one of the greatest pleasures I have ever experienced. It's Isobel who should be credited with this great Canadian gem of a word.
My love and kisses all the way to you in Canada.
Joseph said…
...All the best wishes of success to Abumaher. هذا الشبل من ذاك الاسد

The simplest things in life are the most cherished...Thank you.
Gabriela said…
I forgot to tell you: Barranco is not far away from where I live. If you like to walk as much as I do, it's a beautiful promenade.
And I'm still speechless..
Unknown said…
I seem to always be repeating myself here Abufares, but here I go again, beautiful as always. Your prose defy beauty. How long would I have to try to convince you to write a book?

on to abumaher's blog
Abufares said…
Thank you my friend. Fares will eventually be on his own. Until then I do my best to show him the ways so that when it's high time to choose he would know that there are more than one option to consider.
Abufares said…
Oh I love to walk and can't wait for this beautiful promenade to happen one day.
Abufares said…
You know that there is nothing I want more at the time being (well almost nothing:-) than starting on my own book.
The only problem I have is to be able to consistently dedicate a certain part of my day for this endeavor. I want to be able to settle into a comfortable writing routine and soon. Thank you so much for your encouraging words now and always.
Dania said…
Oh, bless Fares and bless his father for always having the ability to create a smile whatever, whenever and whereever.
Abufares said…
You know how much making you smile means to me???
I just need to see it on your face now :-)
Mariyah said…
Abu Fares, I swear if you keep this up I shall have to come to Tartous and plant a big kiss on your cheek! :) How can I thank you enough? I was slow getting here but Gabriela was kind enough to light a fire under me...and no wonder she thought this post was so noteworthy. This is one of the most beautiful posts you have written and you have written many incredible pieces. I can't even begin to describe what it means to me to be complimented in such a way by you. You certainly know how to touch the hearts of your readers. Thank you my dear friend from the bottom of my heart. Now off to read your son's wonderful!!
Abufares said…
You're going to come all the way to Tartous to plant a big kiss on my...cheek? Come on, you can be more generous than that. I know you can:-)
when I told you that i'm your no. 1 fan it exactly portrayed my feelings toward you and your magical writing. You have the power of a heveanly dream and this is something to always consider when you contemplate your next step. We will meet one of these days... Then you'll know what I have in store for you ;-)
until then all I can do is to tease you on your blog, a place I feel so much at home.
Anonymous said…
Ego trip for your blogging friends!
Loved the pictures. Read Suffonsifism on Isobel's Blogg a few weeks ago. I like her, simple but true...

w.b. yeats
Abufares said…
@w.b. yeats
always a picara, never change, lollll.

It's impossible not to like Isobel.
Anonymous said…
hey! I'm being nice! ego trips are wonderful for ones self-esteem and necessary!!!! But what am I saying, you now that, hence the post.

w.b. yeats
He leído el pots escrito por Gabriela sobre ti y tu familia, estoy fascinada, lastima que no se ingles, trataré de traducir lo que escribes. Soy abogada como Gabriela y Blogger, tengo un blogs
Mi correo es: otro correo es: mrodrí
María del Crmen
Abufares said…
Gracias Maria

For your visit. I'm so happy that you told me about your blog which I will certainly read from now.

Please come again, you are always welcome.
Gabriela said…
I was about to tell you that Maria del Carmen (or Maricarmen) asked me to annonunce you've got a new fan. I see she already introduced herself.
So, fait accompli... I guess.
XTR said…
Abu Fares,

Let me just say that from the moment I came across your blog, I’ve been admiring your writing. I am a frequent reader of your blog. Your use of rich language, typified by similes, metaphors, and connotations is fascinating, and of course your beautiful way of expression and perhaps flawless syntax and grammar never cease to amaze all of us.

Some may find your writings unfathomable however mainly because -in their opinion- of your use of superfluous vocabulary, but I think that your writings are nothing short of spectacular. In fact, your rich use of vocabulary avoids clichés and makes your writings special and attractive.

Thank you for the great posts. It’s an honor to have a Syrian writer like you to be one of the best writers and bloggers around.

I’ve added your blog to my blogroll.
Abufares said…

Yes Maria was kind enough to leave her comment here. Of course she's so much welcome and I'm honored.
Abufares said…
Thank you for your kind words which I truly find humbling to say the least.
I live and talk very casually even when I respond to comments. However, when I sit alone to write, "superfluous" vocabulary along with the similes, metaphors and connotations do come out naturally. I doubt that I can write in any other way and I'm honored that "some" readers out there appreciate it. To be frank, a friend or two of mine can't stand the way I write or explain the contradictory nature of my writing style to my true simple personality.
I'm glad to add you on my blogroll of course but most importantly for me is our ability to appreciate each other even if we disagree. I think there will come the time when I will write something that you will totally disagree with (considering your elegant "About Me" in your blogger profile). I, too, might feel the same about your opinions but that should never affect the way we enjoy and celebrate our differences.
Finally and most importantly, the fact that you are only 21!!! fills me with an unexplainable joy and pride. Good for you, good for the blogsphere, good for Syria and the world.
XTR said…
Abu Fares,

Thank you for your kind reply and for adding me to your blogroll.

We all have different lifestyles and tastes, but just like what you've said, that should never affect the way we enjoy our differences.
Oh Abufares, how your words make love. I do not say this to always be erotic, but because it is true.
I have been to Marseilles and disliked it profoundly. Found it dirty, noisy and if it had not been for the bouillabaisse, not worth my time. Yet to read your words makes me question.

You have such lovely ladies in your life. Mariyah, Gabriela and Isobel. You are in fact never alone - never lonely. Your readers come back over and over again. For your words are like a caress from a lover. You never tire of it. Another beautiful post. I will enjoy the after glow for a time.
Abufares said…

Your comment here is so much like postplay ;-)
You are erotic even when you ask about a package, lolllll.
I found your remarks about Marseilles so accurate and true, yet the bouillabaisse kind of balanced things out... and the wine, oh the wine.
I'm blessed with the ladies in my life, every one of them. Yet, Fantasia, deep deep in my soul, there's one for me and only one and I can't wait to see her "after glowing" with me ;-)

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