Five O


The Scar
In the aftermath of the six-day-war a long trench was dug in the middle of an open field near my home by the sea. More like a scar, it measured a hundred meters long by two meters wide. We kids went there and played War in the afternoon.
"Tatatatatata," we roared back and forth, reproducing the cracking reports of machine guns. When we all died, I climbed out with muddied pants and sand in my hair and rode my bicycle frantically across the gritty breadth of the field. I sped over the pebbles raising a storm of dust in my wake all the while keeping a watchful eye on the gaping wound in the ground. I pulled to the edge of the asphalt and braked hard in a sweeping arc. I stood up, removed the sticky underwear wedged up my ass and gathered my courage to jump to sea side. I pedaled as furiously as I could. The wheels spun in the air over the ditch then made contact, an inch or two short. I plunged forward hitting a sharp protruding stone chin first. The gush of warm blood sprinkled the earth through my fingers. I staggered then fell. Human voices faded in the background; the light of day dimmed then was swallowed by darkness. Minutes later I regained consciousness and winced in pain.
“How is he doctor? Please tell me how he is?”
“Don't worry Abu Tarek¹. He's a tough kid.” My father reassured the man who carried my limp body to him and continued stitching my chin.
I still have the scar.

New World

I stared at the masts of ships disappearing below the horizon. Seagulls shrieked above, soared with invisible drafts then vanished. A crowd of ancestral spirits prattled in my head, nudging me and pulling at my sleeve. You should leave, they called, it's time. Streaks of lightening cast short-lived shadows on the high walls of dead-end alleys. I bid farewell to the life I knew, hunched over against the cold drizzle and walked away.
It was raining in Louisiana too on my 18th birthday but this time I took my clothes off and let the deluge wash my dehydrated skin. Nobody is right, I found out, but we might be all wrong. I absorbed this realization like a Porifera² left to die in the sun. I pitied the wasted youth of my generation and those yet to come for not facing their days and nights with decisions and indecisions.
We spun the bottle: Truth or Dare?
"What do you want to do with your life?"
"I want to fuck the universe till it screams." I was drunk, when I said that, or stoned. I think I was both.
I never got around actually doing that but I did kiss it... and it moaned.

Daughter of Astarte³

She was having a hard time breathing as I held her tiny body in my arms. There she was a part of me outside of me for the first time. I stayed all night by the NICU.
"Get some sleep." The doctor who stitched my chin twenty years earlier said and patted my shoulder.
He reassured me that she'll be alright in the morning, not because he was certain but because he wanted to as much as I did.
"Her name is Ebla" I said, "after the great Syrian city that proved that the whole world is living a big lie."
"Give me the pleasure of naming her myself." My father said. "She's Diana, goddess of the hunt and of the moon, daughter of our own Astarte."
I sat for hours on end near Diana's cot waiting for her to wake up. Then one day she rode my motorcycle on the winding mountain roads and on my back in the same house where I was born. She changed me forever. She made me a father.


"How long?"
"A month. Two at most." Dad replied.
I spent the next four weeks with her. She told me a story everyday, except that they kept getting shorter. So did her days as she slept more and more until she never woke up.
I missed my mother, my storyteller, my friend, my fan and idol. She was my rock in times of need, my lighthouse in the storm, my laughter and tears. I lost her.

Falling in Love
I was a late bloomer. I had lived my entire life in the shadow of a paradox, etherized with the void of being and the timidity of acceptance. I fell in love… with life, with the morning sun and the silent passage of the moon across the sky. I embraced time and distance at last. I fathomed the “seemingly” predetermined motion of the heavenly bodies in the sky, the toil of ants underground and our human voyage. As I passively rode the rapids down the river I had a change of heart. I found a low hanging branch and held on to it. There is a beautiful ait upstream, a little further back. I do not want to be anywhere else.
That eventually the torrent would sweep us all became irrelevant. I swam against the current to reach my island or die trying.

Five moments in time, mind-picked from the fleeting decades of my life. I am 50*

¹ Abu Tarek, my neighbor, made the best Knafeh in the world. He passed away ten years ago.
² Porifera: an animal phylum comprising the sponges.
³ Astarte: Syrian Goddess, grandmother of all the subsequent Greek and Roman Goddesses of fertility, sexuality and war

* 50: Coming up this week.


Anonymous said…
Happy Birthday , happy 50 , and happy times.
i wish you every good wish in your life and your work.
Take care.

Isobel said…
Beautiful post, Abu Fares. All the best to you and a VERY HAPPY 50th!! I'll raise a glass of wine to you on the weekend! Cheers!
BIL said…

A recap of life's major memories condensed to a few short lines. To look back and see what they meant as they occurred and what they mean today as you reminisce. Thinking of what could have been and what actually transpired can make one a bit dizzy. The first fifty is the initial learning and the beginning of explorations to new worlds, and the second? Your one lighthouse may be gone, but others are there to help and guide you along the way also knon as friends and family. Cherish what you have for it is a lot (more than most). Please keep those wonderful thoughts alive and I want to wish you a most pleasant Happy Birthday - - BIL
Anonymous said…
feliz aniversario ya Abufares, you have a lot to tell,
Radiologystan said…
we are travelers, but you are enjoying the trip. Cheers happy 50th BD neighbor.
Abufares said…
Many thanks for your wishes :-)
Abufares said…
What would a birthday be without your elegant presence.
Thank you for making this world of ours such a beautiful place.
Abufares said…
There's very little else we can ask for if we're so lucky as to have friends and family like you.
Thank you for your wishes. I'm going to hang on to my Forties till the last minute then I'm going to jump my Fifties and start enjoying myself :-)
Abufares said…
Glad there's someone like you out there to listen to me.
Thank you my friend.
Abufares said…
Hello neighbor!!!
We are travelers you're right... and I'm having one hell of a ride. I'm very lucky indeed and what life took from me with one hand she gave me more of with the other.
Gabriela said…
¡Feliz cumpleaños querido AbuFares!
What a lovely post. Lovely memories. The part about your daughter and the one about your mother moved me to tears.
It's always a pleasure to read a wonderfully written piece.
Karin said…
So beautiful Abufares ... and coming from your heart!! So ... Diana was almost named "Ebla"?
And your mom ... as very painful as it is but at least you had time to prepare yourself - I lost my dad after a heart catheter intervention! NOT BECAUSE OF - his heart was just simply too bad and his coronaries too clogged ... I got a call from my crying sister telling me dad had just died! I had chatted and laughed with him just two days prior .. he had promised to call me the minute he'd be back in his room!
It was one of the worst moments of my life ...

Did you think for a minute I had forgotten about your ROUND birthday? ;-) Naaaaaaaa ....!!!!!!!!
Anonymous said…
Here it is looking at you, Kid! Feliz Cumpleaños and many more! I'm behind you, reaching, reaching and getting there.

cariños siempre

w.b. yeats
Mariyah said…
Oh, my dear, dear friend is turning 50! :) How wonderful! The happiest of birthdays to you, Abufares. May this year bring you more joy than even you know what to do with! ;) And then I hope you'll write about it!! This post was so absorbing, and like Gabriela, I was also teary-eyed in the same places as she. You are such a beautiful writer. Never stop, ok? xo
Abufares said…
Sooo nice to see you here my friend and read your beautiful words and wishes. One more day to go to get that 50 under my belt.
Abufares said…
I knew you would never forget :-)
Ebla was the name I chose for her but it was a very unpopular one. My dad who delivered me 50 years ago also delivered my 3 children. He chose Diana's name and of course I didn't argue because I both loved it and I owed it to him.
You're right of course about preparing myself. They were perhaps the toughest 4 weeks of my life but I'm happy to have had that chance with her.
Thank you dear friend, always.
Abufares said…
@w.b. yeats
Amazing how fast time flies isn't it?
We were just kids only yesterday ;-)
Gracias muchos querida...
HBD to you too.
Abufares said…
Yes my little girl :-) I'm 50 or soon to be.
I'm so grateful that I'm getting happier and younger with the passage of time. When I look back over the past, over last year in particular, I really appreciate how lucky I've been.
That I turned 50 while we are co-writing our story added so much more meaning to it. Thank you Marroush for making it a memorable birthday.
A stunning post, a beautiful journey and a glimpse of those moments in your life ... profound ... and then a sadness ... how could you not tell me it was your birthday dear friend!? 50th ... your soul is young with the strength of love ... It is indeed a Happy birthday.
Abufares said…
It's tomorrow really my BD.

I have to thank you for being here for me despite the distance. For being a friend in time of need. For listening to me, for arguing with me :-) but most importantly for believing in me.
A little sadness with plenty of happiness, mix them well and drink... That's what life is all about.
KJ said…
Still a young man, you are, and the greatest 7akawati of all time.

Happiest 50 my dearest friend.
Abufares said…
Thank you old man :-)
Looking forward seeing you soon.
Karin said…
Gabriela ... I know you're in Peru but still .. did you feel in any way this horrid earthquake? Are you alright? Just caring ...
Joseph said…
Once again, Happy 50th Birthday, Abufares.
My wish for you, is that you keep on swimming, that you keep on climbing, that you keep on loving, and most of all, that you enjoy with every breath you take, the moments and memories for 50 more years to come.
Anonymous said…
Happy Birthday. And thank you. :)
Maureen Thomas said…
Belatedly, I'm afraid, I send you my very best wishes for your 50th birthday. I hope your celebrations have left you with many happy memories and that you will have many more wonderful, memorable and uplifting moments in the months and years ahead.

May one of those be when I am able to introduce my two Syrian friends to one another.
Abufares said…
Thank you for you birthday wishes. Days become insignificant in the passage of decades :-)
I look forward to the day I get to meet you Maureen. It'll be an absolutely delightful encounter.
Tony said…
although slightly belated, I want to wish you the happiest of birthdays, Abu Fares! 3a2bel kil sineh!
I hope you had a wonderful day w inshallah hek 3ala 6ool.
Abufares said…
Many thanks... but late than never :-)
Anonymous said…
I "discovered your blog about a month ago and since then have been coming here to read your beautiful words.Have to confess that has been a wonderful experience(and relief)to know that sensitive,tender hearted arab men do exist in the arab world.
This is coming from a 100% lebanese girl,brazilian born that now lives in Canada,so do not feel offended please,hehehe.
i hope you continue writing always and hope you had a great bday!!!!

Abufares said…
But of course we exist, lolll. We might be hard to find but we're there somewhere below the radar screen.
Thank you Fadua for reading and commenting on my blog. I really appreciate it coming from a Lebanese woman, born in Brazil and living in Canada. What a fatally seductive combination :-)
Thank you too for your BD wishes Fadua and FYI my whole life (not only my writing) is inspired by a most beautiful woman.
I once lived near Ebla. We are joined by that and by this post:

Happy belated birthday. And thanks for these powerful vignettes.
Abufares said…
@Lavender Luz
Thank you so very much for your belated BD wishes. At 50... a few months really don't matter much :-)
I took a look at your lovely blog and tremendously liked what I saw.
Please drop by any time!!!

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