Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.
~ Benjamin Franklin
I burn books and etch their words on the walls of my mind. I crave my reading with a ravenous hunger. I want to slow myself down to cherish the tastes of characters, styles and plots, but I'm unable to. Late at night, letters twirl around inside me. Abandoned phrases with orphaned paragraphs perform a sacrificial dance to a soundless music. A silent chuckle reverberates in my head, followed by a dry tear down my cheek. Together, they chase away the remnants of sleep as I accidentally knock the glass of water on the night-table over, spilling my dreams in a puddle on the floor. With the advent of dawn, they evanesce, leaving a fugue of bittersweet memories.
The Frères Maristes taught me French very well and made me hate it too. I was barely six when the twisted priests drilled French in my head with a quill. They force-fed me francophone ink to obliterate what little Arabic I knew. They, however, couldn't touch my imagination no matter how hard they tried. I dreamed in Arabic, fantasized, skimmed the cloud tops, soared over mountain and sea in that beautiful poetic language. If English is my public face, Arabic is my very soul.
I forgave the French their misanthropy and returned to the bosom of a perfectly sublime language. They made it second class to English only through their misgivings and their xenophobic cultural protectionism. I am re-learning French on my own and advancing in elated leaps and strides. I can't wait till I embrace its profound literature again and resume reading classic fiction.
In college, I came across an uncounted number of Latinos. No, to be precise, I didn't have a single Latino friend but had plenty of chicas latinas as my best amigas. These were magnificent women, who, over the course of our companionship, had uplifted my spirit and infused me with an inextinguishable joie de vivre. Spanish became background music to my ear, but alas I never learned it. A little over a month ago I chanced upon a small ad in a local paper. A teacher at the University of Lattakia was giving Spanish lessons in her office for beginners, here in Tartous. I called and joined her class.
Last week, and after mi profesora cubana explained a few short Federico García Lorca's poems (no less), she asked her class of neophytes to write a "colors inspired" poem in Spanish. As I struggled with restlessness that night, begging both Hypnos and Morpheus to have mercy on me, my very first Spanish inspiration ran smoothly down the gullies of the Broca's area in my brain. And I wrote this:
Los Colores de mi Amor
La nieve se vuelve blanca
ya que toca el rostro de mi querida
Las estrellas están pintadas de azul
cuando ella las mira
El cielo se llena de vida con mi alma
porque mi amante está conmigo
Su pelo se mueve al viento y
pinta la noche con tonos mágicos
Entonces... nuestro amor despierta y
sale el sol
Looking forward my very first Spanish fiction read -10 años con Mafalda