coffee trees

syria-2009

A picture of me taken in a citadel in Syria. قلعة الحصن

In spirit of the place & the silhouette, I share the words below.

You can consider them dedicated to a land, to a person or to yourself.

A silhouette it is.

This is how we see each other now. Far. Very far standing at the top of a citadel, armed with egoistic prejudices. & afraid to let go – to fall down – in love.

You are very far now. & the distance between us is a traveler’s journey that I read about in poetry books. Travelling all the way to you is worth it, but I am afraid. I currently dwell in my comfort zone. & reaching you could be so uncomfortable.

Deep down, I know you are worth it. I just cannot see that. & how can you believe that which you cannot see? & how can you see in the dark? & How can you see that which is far: very far away!

Between you and I are refugees of love. Diaspora out of a war about ego scattered around the rocks of the citadel & reaching far to the corners of the city. Our awkward silence is only reinforcing their suffering.

Between you and I is war, love & strangers from ancients travels who want to colonize our hearts. But also there exists the resistance of our family – in
the writers of Cairo, the readers of Iraq, the publishers of Lebanon, & the roads of Jerusalem.

Between you and I, is a huge difference. Despite the proximity of geographical locations, the greatest distance to travel will be the one from my heart to your’s.

Everyone wants to travel the globe to explore the world, but no one wants to travel to their beloved to explore their heart.

Between you and I, are the different countries inside of us. & the different sects that are fighting for our hearts. We are torn between different cultures, languages and traditions. Even though they seem like one, we speak a different language now. & I don’t mean the vocabulary of the mother tongue – I mean the language of mental capacity, spiritual chemistry, & mutual understanding. “The click” – if you will. It is the sound of the reunion of souls that indicates that putting them together is a good fit. The perfect key for the perfect lock. The sound of opening the doors of every chamber in our hearts. That language is more powerful than our different vocabulary & grammatical syntaxes. A language, despite the different terminologies, has the same translations of love, growth, unity, harmony & family.

I can tell you are trying to see me in the crowd of seekers. So, I invite you to divorce their proposals & seek refuge in me. If they change your geography, my heart can be your home & you can always live in my heart. & that, my dear, they cannot change. ever!

I will remind you of the smell of mint leaves in your sidewalks.
& the fresh aroma of basil trees in the gardens of your family.
The sprinkled thyme on the oven-cooked bread.. infused with the smell of white Jasmine flowers from my grandma’s balcony.

& bed time stories will be about war and love – from stories that refugees brought to my expatiation. Stories that keeps us aware of the sufferings of this world, but also ones that I will turn into songs to put you into a warm goodnight sleep in my arms.

I will show you old photos of you, when you were not even aware of your beauty. & to every picture, we’ll chant an old Fayrouz song as we imagine her voice echoing in the mountains of your territories. The exact same songs that were on our road trip playlist as we drove towards your churches up the hill. & as we stopped by your mosques in Damascus, the norias of Hama, the markets of Hims, & the people of Aleppo.

Between you and I, was an old man who worked in a store near my aunt’s house. He sold me candy as a little girl & prayed to God that He may increase my money, every time I gave away Syrian Liras in exchange for candy. 🙂 He listened to Marcel Khalifa as he sang the words of Mahmoud Darwish. He does not know that he taught me the etiquette of buying and selling, a taste in music and poetry, & genuine smiles to strangers. He entrenched in my memory a desire of connection to every grand parent who stores history in their wrinkles.

& then my grandmother was one time in her balcony watering her basil trees – she looked at me and she shared memories of her childhood in your heart. She told me that she loves you. So, I did.

Just like I love anything else that she loves.

Because my beloved’s beloved, is my beloved too. 🙂

She always spoke of you with a glow in her deep brown eyes. Her wrinkle lines changed in length with every story she recited. It was too much for me to take all at once, because my little world was just her small vintage apartment. Since then, I knew that expanding my mental map would be a challenge. Her words implied that loving you is not easy, and shall never be. As if you are like a rare apple that hangs at the highest point on a tree. One has to climb & endure the fear in order to be rewarded by the most beautiful taste of pleasure.

I could tell that you are like one of those beautiful people who are worth a lot of investment. An expensive price to pay for nearness. And the currency is not Lira. The currency is emotional, intellectual & spiritual presence. & The only prerequisite to obtain it is bravery. Only the brave from us can come closer to you. & the rest can decide that you are not for nearness, & just watch you from very far away in admiration.

& all that remains to them shall be that which is between you and them. The smell of basil trees, my stories, & the radio looping the melodies of Marcel Khalifa.

Song Pairing: Marcel Khalifa – Sajar Al-Ban.

كلمات محمود درويش :

“بيني وبينك سجر البن
وحبّ الهال
وزهر النوم
بيني وبينك تسع جبال
وعرب وصحرا
وغيبة يوم
بيني وبينك ضربة رمح
وفرس وسيف
وهجم الصبح
بيني وبينك طيرة طير
ونادوا كلُّن ع الفراق
وقطفني متل الصبيّر
صوت الغنّو بالعراق
رايح إسرقلك غابة،
واسرقلك جان
وعلق ع سجر البحر
عقود المرجان.
لو نقدك كان مدينة
وبالشام العرس
لاركب ع الفرس وجبلك
مفتاح القدس.”

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