4 Sep 2008


The weather here is starting to be great. Cool and refreshing. Brings back the elegance and serenity from deep inside. The smell that is discrete but so vivid to me. Only. I stood in that place and let the vent hit me. I heard it whispering. Softly and gently. Words that made my heart soar. I knew and remember this feeling. Confused how can someone be addictive to pain. I guess for this pain I had been searching. Even as a kid. It is interesting.

So, I took my car and drove around. It is clean and smelling nice. I found myself passing by so many old places and this soaring returned. And I started narrating to her some stories from the past.

I smiled and started, 'I guess it all started with Monsieur Sayed' our bus driver.' The blue autobus touring cairo. I was the first to come in, and almost the last to get out. He took me places. Sitting alone towards the end of the bus. Eating a sandwitch that I kept with me while sitting alone on the coach after almost everyone leaving. I sat next to the window. Squeezing my head to the glass and absorbing every house and street we passed by.

Until this very moment I remember my feelings. I remember the houses and the people and friends.

I remember Pakinam Usama. She lived in this small house. 2 floors only. OVerlooking a huge garden. Whenever we passed by her to pick her or drop her, her family (2 aunts who were living with her in the same building) would be sitting in the veranda garden. They cheered and came to take her. Her father used to wear round glasses. I still remember how he looked. I always liked this seclusion and this spacious area infront of their house. I would imagine that in the summer they would play soccer and hide and seek. Take their chairs and sit in the garden with their neighbours. I doubt they did that, or even anyone did that. I still remember that one of the 2 floors was yellowish. I still pass by this place and here my stomach crumble. I met Pakinam at the club one day. She got married when she was 20. But they sold the house and moved out. The house now is no more 2 floors.

Dalia Mustafa. Her parents were architect. Both of them. She lived in this side street close to a main stereet. In a nice old villa. I can close my eyes and remember how the villa looked like. Old english villa, iron door and fence all surrounded with 'guhanameya' plant. I loved it. She would always wear flat shoes and would walk like a ballerina to the villa. Ring the bell outside and her grandmother would come open the iron door. She never invited us in. But I wished I would go inside to see. The villa looked so old and so sad. Indeed this girl was sad. Her parents were always travelling and she lived with her grandmother. How lonely this house could be. I memorized the name of the street til this moment. Now the villa is gone. And a huge building is up instead. DOnt know where dalia went.

Reham el saban. She was syrian. I kinda had a crush on this girl because of her manish voice. Her name triggered me. Although we were kids, but I used to love Rafek el saban and nicole barakat and tarek habib. Something in them attracted me. And reham's last name reminded me of Rafeek and maybe that's why I loved her. Wanted to be her friend. She did not live in egypt but came from france on 3rd grade. She lived in this corner house, 2nd floor. Her house entrance was forming a welcoming corner embracing the 3 intersections. very unique. The entrance arches were rounded like a temple, and there was an iron window up there. What I mostly love was their bedroom window. It reminded me of my grandmother's house becuase it was in teh same area. whenever we pass by her, she would be sitting in the window (i imagine there was a sofa below the window) watching and waiting for the bus to pass. The window is not the fenetre type. To open it you would roll the handle until it is opened. I loved that. On the other side, there was this balcony that overlooked the entrance where her grandmother would be sitting. They put an old high sofa. The house entrance was always dark and seemed a bit humid. There was also this hiding area from the bombs. Anyways, Reham was a nice girl.

Azza and Amira. They both were good friends to one another. Azza looked Koka from goofy. Very tall. Dark skin and she has big nose and wide mouth. Amira was so so white. Red hair with a thick glasses. Extremely thin and fragile. Together they would come to school walking when they missed the bus. They lived just across the street at the end of the school's main street. They both lived in an french style connected house. Underneath it were tons of shops and little markets. Huge rounded windows. Very dense entrance. Not so clean but super old and amazing architecture. There was this barbar shop that has 2 mini floors and my brother used to go there. We would sit upstairs and I crawl to the iron window and sit watch the people buying from the small shops. Cats running and hawling around the shop. Both Amira and Azza used to take a private lesson with me at Mme Omnia.

Mme Omnia lived at the end of my grandmother's street. An old old building infront of the ancient hospital built by my mother's cousin. I remember so much that the house was so cold. I would freeze inside during winter while taking the lesson. SHe taught us math and english for some reason. Omnia lived with her mother and 2 sisters. When you enter from the door there was this huge reception with an old sewing machine her mother used to sit on. There was not so many furniture and there was this sad and humid smell in the house. She used to have us sit in the dinning room where there was a huge table and 12 chairs. Again the smell would dominate the place and trademark some feeling in me. A melange with the cold weather and the no carpets on the ceramic...all left a shivering feeling inside me. I remember now that I used to wonder what happened to these people? I had a theory that they were not so rich and she was working to support her mother and sister. They were not poor by any means, but I think the no furniture plus the sewing machine from the movies made the scenario. But her father died a while back. I remember 3 incidents. first one when she was joking with me and drew a green star on my forehead. I grew very angry and thought that it was an insult. She kept apologizing and removed if for me. I remember till now that she got a soap and cleaned it. I guess I gave her this angry look with my big eyes, that made her feel guilty. I was very expressive. Second incident when my mother was late to pick me up, we together sat in the living room watching tv. She got me oranges, peeled it for me and fed me. I think she loved me. And I know that i was attached to her. I enjoyed the intimate cozy time we spent infront of the tv, eating and watching. The chairs were wooden and I would place the dish on the wooden hand. I was happy...I had a private time with my teacher. Third time, when there was no light and Azza, Amira and myself had to go down the stairs. I remember that this soaring feeling visited me dearly. The feeling of excitement. Of almost hearing the stairs whispering me. The cold stairs, dented at parts from being stepped on tremendously challenged me. We three carried a candle and found our way down. It was fun. The following year, she was no longer our teacher, yet she came to visit us. One day she came to school to see us. I ran to her and said hello. I remember that I was cold. But I was sad she was no longer my teacher.

Rasha Samir. The tallest girl at school. She was palestinian who lived in the next building from the school. Amazing old house. During 3rd grade, our class window overlooked her own house. I envied her. For some reason I always felt so far away from home. Wished to always see my own home whenever I can. I loved my own home which I never found, but knew existed and assured myself that I was forced to leave it. I know I have a home and til the moment I knew I never found it yet. I would look from the classroom's window to the residents of the house. The servant putting the old carpet out, the living room, the bedroom. I would keep looking to them and wonder what my mother was doing at that moment. Oh well...at work!! BUMMER!! I guess I wished my mother was staying home waiting for me to come back. But this was never the case except on saturdays. Instead, I was the one who always waited for her to come.

My school. Beautiful architecture. Huge gate with stairs and french ornaments. An old palace in a beautiful old place. I always played with myself. It was home and I owned it. I discovered secret places there. Would explore passages deep down. Every day I would do that and this was the only thing that kept me excited til my mom come picked me up.

When she used to pick me up, it was a blast when she decided to walk together and pick my brother. We walked together in the crowded street. I loved it. I looked at every house, scanned the veranda, and street name. Look at the entrance. the iron door. the falling stairs. the wooden mailboxes inside. the smell. the crowd. People going and coming. My mom would buy stuff and I would just wait for her silently. I enjoyed the trip in the nice air. Smelling her Chanel No 5 perfume, her short hair, kind smile and the space I delved in.

I walked and walked. Drove and drove. With my mom. Sometimes we parked in a small street waiting for my brother. I would take my homeworks and make the back of the car my little house. Study and adjust myself to the street lamp for a perfect lighting. I had my mobile home. And I enjoyed it. In the winter, the smell was scary. But it is what remained. And what connected me. And what made me who I am. When I walk in these streets, I see my mother. I see myself. I see my brother. I revisit myself. And I found a tear or a smile dancing down my face. I sigh. And greet the place.

And I know when I have a kid, I will take him down there. Tour the streets. Open the old books. Smell the air. will close his eyes and let him feel the places and detect my presence. memorize the names. illustrate the maps. salute the buildings. inhale the scent. sit on teh stairs. bond with the heart beats. tune to the walls. fly with the elevator. touch the iron and warm the bricks. silently narrate the stories. Embrace the ages. And enclose the pain to preserve the connection. recognize that he is special. This I never did with anyone except one. But I swore that I would never do it again with anyone. it is my secret. it is me. only my kid will understand because I would want him to know me. And this knowing he will pass to his kids. this will be the only way i will assure my immortality. through the silence. through the places. through the many homes that i sensed and loved, connected and acknowledge..... but insisted to wait until i go back home.

and i will soon

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

you made me cry!~!!

9/04/2008 11:24:00 pm  
Blogger Lisa Simpson said...

Flashback? :)

9/05/2008 05:52:00 pm  

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