Follow Abufares

Friday, September 09, 2016

Down In Smoke

“Women! You can’t live with them. You can’t live without ‘em.”
“So true! They’re like popcorn.” I ruminated and took a slow drag. Smoke descended on the table like chemical mist.
“What do you mean?” He asked, “Women are tasty, ephemeral and frail?”
I hadn’t put any thought behind my words. They were the bastards of a threesome of beer cans.
“Precisely.” I crushed my cigarette and lit another.

Leaving in twelve hours, I had resigned myself to be molested on both sides of the great divide by people, mere people, who held absolute power over my destiny. I had to pass, with poised docility, the obnoxiousness of sunburnt, potbellied men whose armpits stunk down to seventh hell before the crossing, and then, twenty-four hours after the travail of travel, the scrutiny of uniformed inquisitors with swollen egos and a worldly empathy smaller than a pinhead.
“Ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you,” I blurted, savoring the misquotation.
“Cheers, buddy. Kassak! May you go and return safely.”
“Damn this rotten place. It’s but a grotesque mutation of those who reign over it. JFK wasn’t more important than America. Was he?”
“No, but Hitler, the little shit, was bigger than Germany. Stalin's mustache thicker than Russia. Idi Amin fatter than all of Africa. And we, here, in this goddamned place, eat, sleep, fornicate and ultimately die beneath the feet of tyrants who are larger than life.” He gulped down his fifth or sixth. I lost count. “And you know what? All of the third-world dictators were propped into their chairs by the Americans.” He burped. “Yet, and here’s the irony, this is where you’re going. America!”
“For once, I wanna live the life of the blissfully ignorant. I don’t wanna give a shit anymore about Middle East politics or the massacre of Muslims in Myanmar. I might even get a dog and feed it better than these children of a lesser god. I’ll post pictures of Rex, that’s my Lab, lying in bed and sticking its tongue out on Facebook.
“You’ll get hundreds of Likes!”

“I’m gonna miss you.” I looked away and smoked.
“I’m gonna miss you too, man. And, I’ll join you as soon as I close shop here. We’ll start a Hummus joint together. We’ll call it Hummus Tartous.”
“Hey, we can hang a copper plaque on the wall and write in cursive that Hummus started in Tartous, spread to Mesopotamia, and eventually inundated the whole world. Americans like this sort of shit. And they’ll buy it, eh!”
“Millions of them support Trump and the others turned Bernie Sanders down. They’ll buy anything.”
“I think I’ll change into a white racist bigot once there. Trump is Great!”
“Yeah, damn it!”
I was glad the night had fallen. I avoided his eyes but when I looked, there was nothing to see except two dark pits in the infinite blackness of this place.


Isobel Adams said...

:( Hopefully Trump will be one thing you won't have to deal with in all this. I like the idea of Hummus Tartous...served in little plastic take-out tubs. ;) Hard to leave a good friend. Happily the heart holds on and never forgets.

abufares tartoussi said...

Hello, Isobel :-) I miss you on this blog.
Hopefully, Trump'll fall like a kite made of lead. The notion that a moronic megalomaniac may take on the most powerful job in the world is scary. As if current and past American foreign policy under the helm of milder and wiser characters wasn't a disaster.
As for Hummus, an appetizer, no more, no less, I'm forever amazed with the huge popularity it has achieved on the international stage in general and in North America in particular. Give it to the Israelis and Lebanese to make a mountain out of an aunt mound. Hummus claimed to have originated in either country is such a joke. Hummus predates the 3 monotheist religions. The expansive area that is called the Fertile Crescent is the birthplace of almost all Mediterranean food and for any nation or person to claim otherwise is arrogantly stupid and historically incorrect. Now, only I can claim that Tartous was the cradle of civilizations, at least on my blog :-)
Farewells are always difficult and I had more than my fair share of them over the years. But meeting again after a prolonged absence is so sweet, it wipes away all the tears and pain.
Thank you again :-) Come back, please.

Ingrid McCarthy said...

Aaaah, that sarcasm!! So very much the trademark of Abufares. Can't deny that I love it. Made me chuckle. Do I detect a trace of nostalgia about leaving the motherland (or is Syria a fatherland?) And as far as Hummus is concerned, you had better get over here and tell the folks that we don't want Hummus made with canola oil. It's a sin!

abufares tartoussi said...

Glad you enjoyed this short piece.
The name "Souriah: Syria" according to some historians (Concino, 1835) is a word coined by Indo-Europeans during an early wave of migration to the Levant in the 4th millennium B.C. In Sanskrit, Souriah means Sun, and it was called so by those early settlers obviously because of its warmth, fertility and, well, sunny weather. Souriah is a female word, just like sun in most Mesopotamian languages and is referred to as the Motherland.
I have been suffering from this duality for the last 40 years. I belong to the States and to Syria equally and I'm constantly torn between the two. In my heart of hearts, Syria is my home, but it's inevitable that I must set sail soon and leave.
As for Hummus!!! As I mentioned to Isobel, I can't help but wonder (in amusement verging on disgust) the Americanization of this side dish by first and second generation immigrants to the North America. Evidently, Hummus has proven very popular for various reasons, including health and taste, and the transformation from a simple Levantine/Mediterranean food staple to a trendy, yuppie super food reminds me of the rise and eventual ubiquitousness of yogurt. For most Americans, yogurt is Greek, a half-true statement since yogurt is a major dietary component of every country's cuisine around the Mediterranean and the Arabic peninsula. I eat yogurt daily, at least in 2 of my 3 meals, and so does everybody else here. Let's not even mention Tabouleh, Falafel and Shawerma. Enough is enough!!! :-D