Monday, February 15, 2010

The Notebooks

“I’m feeling like writing today. I suppose I’ll wake up one day, to find that I have volumes and volumes of notebooks only talking about…me. Which isn’t really a boring subject, not until you start reading it…”

He held the notebook in his hands, adjusted his glasses on his thin nose and relaxed on the big arm chair. His heart skipped a beat; he could feel his lost breath, and his anticipation as he turned the pages of the diary.

“Today I went to the grocery store. When I walked in, I remembered, amazingly, when I was little, walking in the aisles, as if walking in wonderland, looking at the shelves that are filled with canned food, as if discovering new lands. The little carriage made me feel like I’m in a train that’s going through woods that were never seen by a human being before. My mom used to ask me to point at what I wanna get, I never really knew what these cans were, but I pointed at the one that looked the prettiest. One day my mom asked me to reach out and grab what I wanted from a certain shelf, when I grabbed it and gave it to her, she laughed, looked at me, leaned as if to whisper and said: “You’ll get plenty of this when you grow up. At least it’ll help you survive if you’re married to someone like your father”. As I walked pass that same shelf, I grabbed the sane can, which turned out to be a small bottle. I laughed and put it in the carriage, and wished that it won’t give me a bad hangover tomorrow”.

He closed the notebook he had in hand, and picked up another one, from the pile he had on the little coffee table next to him. He stopped for a couple of seconds, filled with excitement and enthusiasm, like a 6 year old, about to open his birthday gift. He went quickly through the notebook, and then started reading.

“….I stayed up all night next to her. Her temperature was so high; I could almost feel it’s warming the room. She went on coughing all night, her face was so red and her nose was bleeding. This was the worst night of my life, I was so scared, and nobody was with me in the house. [….] went away on business, as usual, and I was left alone, not knowing what to do other than looking at her, and trying my best to make her feel good. With every cough I felt a part of me ripped off. I hope she never gets sick again, I wish I get sick all the time, but she doesn’t….”

The intensity of the words got him tears in his eyes. He kept on reading, and turning the pages, and reading. It was his utmost pleasure now, to spend his time reading these notebooks. He, who never opened a proper book in his entire life, who never passed comics book and Play Boy magazines, he was sitting there, for hours on end, reading the diaries of a woman, whom he barely knew.

“The alarm didn’t go off today. I woke up late and everyone was still sleeping. I waked them up, they were all angry, and I didn’t know what to do. I kept preparing everything, just for them to leave without even saying goodbye. I was dead tired yesterday, what could I have done? I spent all night preparing the cakes and pastries for [….] birthday, it’s gonna be a big one, cuz she’s having all her friends over. I just want to make her happy….”

He couldn’t go on reading in the notebook; he closed it, took off his glasses and just sat there. He sat there alone, till someone came knocking on the door, asking for permission to come in. He didn’t answer, and the knocking kept on. At last, it stopped, and he sank again in his arm chair, as if cut from the world. He looked at the notebooks again, and picked up another one.

He found a ripped page, with only one paragraph in it.

“….I saw him with her again today. They kissed as he drove her to her working place. I think I’m wrong to have followed him, but I had to know for sure. I can’t blame him; she’s prettier, younger and more attractive than me. I just wish….I just wish he’d have told me he’s with her. I would have…known. All I wanted to not to be fooled. I love him so much, if this is not enough for him, then I don’t mind him being with her. I just wish he’d told me….”

Hardly grasping his breath, he slowly closed the notebook, and put it on his lab. He dried his tears, and picked up yet another notebook. He gradually started to fear what he’ll read. He opened the first page in the last notebook he found.

“…I went to see the doctor today. He told me the treatments aren’t working any more, but I can’t tell my family. Not now at least. He told me I have little time to live, but it’s only a matter of time before we all die. That’s what my mother told me in my dad’s funeral. I believe it. We’re all gonna die. I just don’t wanna die before I feel that […..] won’t need me any more. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me, I wish I can tell her how much I love her…...I don’t know if she’ll remember me, if he’ll remember me, maybe I’ll end up being a vague picture in their minds, maybe I won’t be a picture even. It’s…not a bad thing to die…I’ll just miss them a lot”

At this the paragraph ended. He stared at the page, as if wanting more words to appear. Just something more from her words that would make him feel her presence. That she’s not gone.

The knocks on the door started again…

“Dad! Are you okay?” said the voice from outside.

He put the notebooks back in their place, in a drawer in the bookcase. He knew he has to go outside. It’s the least he can do to her. Attend the funeral and make sure she’s paid her respect. He took off his glasses; got up the armchair, looked at the mirror, and made sure he dried his tears and then got out.

“…I’ll just miss them a lot” These words kept on ringing in his ears. He couldn’t help himself and tears starting coming down from his eyes, while he, powerlessly, kept whispering:

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry”.


Number 246

Brooklyn, New York. 1997

"People, who didn't know me, always asked me, why do I hate the numbers 246? Someone I know now always told me that people normally hate the number 666, but 246 was a bit odd. I smiled and didn't reply, I only said that I'm a bit of an odd person myself. And she was satisfied with this answer anyways....

"My memories of that time are vague. I can't recall specific details about the how long I've been held in that rotten place, or when I was released. I lost the sense of time - and perhaps the sense of feeling- at that time. All I know is that it was so dark, pitch black; nobody was in the place with me, except for the ones who captured me and locked me away. I remember being grabbed by the shoulder from my mom's arms, I remember seeing my dad's tearful eyes while he tried to break free from the hands of the kidnappers, to get to me and take me away from them. I remember hearing the screaming of my little sister, whom I never saw afterwards - she must be a pretty, tall girl now, she look like an actress I can't remember her name now- she was only a year and a half when I was taken away. I remember the car I was taken in, I can't remember what it looked like exactly, but I remember the road they took, had lots of turns, it must have been an old road, cuz the car was buzzing. I also remember the state of mind I was in, disbelief, waiting to wake up from this nightmare, till I realized, days after that, I wasn't dreaming, I was wide awake...the strange thing is that I didn't panic, I didn't feel anything. At least not till days after that...

"I'm not sure what kind of mechanism they used on me, but it apparently didn't work at first. They deprived me of food, held me in a dark place and exposed me to electric shocks. Something inside me wouldn't die, they said. It was hysterical to see their facial expressions when they failed to break me. They used everything at first, and when they failed, they decided to stop being nice, it was time for something that would make me talk...

"I remember crying afterwards, telling myself that I should have fought stronger and killed the bastard who imposed himself on me. I cried cuz I lost my dignity. When they turned me back to my cell, I was feeling ashamed of myself. My spirit was broken, it was shattered to pieces. What is it that is left for me even if I get home? I didn't care about the wounds and burnings, I didn't even think of them as bad things, they were a sign that I resisted. But this....this is beyond what I thought...

"I still didn't break. Many women and girls faced what I faced, they weren't scared. What more can they take from them anyways? What more can they take from me? But the memory of that day haunted me all the time, just remembering the feeling, the shiver, the pain and the tears. His sadic laugh, his enjoyment and my screams, my slapping and kicing. And his relief and happiness after he was done. And me being curled up on myself in the corner of the room, trying to gather myself together, searching for my things, as if searching for my shattered spirit and trying to get it back together. Just the memory is all that tortured me...

"I knew I was pregnant after a month and a half from that day. A woman told me that the signs you get in this place have a different meaning than it has outside it. She told me I was pregnant, and I have to have an abortion. Nobody will have a pregnant woman in a place like this, they won't take the responsibility. I looked at her, not knowing which I should whine for, being pregnant, or knowing that I have to give up the child that is growing inside of me. I spent my days remembering my family; I couldn't imagine what they'll do to me when I come out. "But it's not my fault" I used to tell myself. I was just a 19 year-old girl. What could I have done in front of a whole army of kidnappers?

"Most people who knew me before and after I was taken away, always told me that I grew old about 60 or 70 years inside that place. I entered that place and I was 19 and got out when I was 39, but they used to tell me that it seems like I got out 70 years-old. It showed on my face, my voice and the way I looked at everything. I always remembered that day, that memory. I didn't remember many other things, but this was the most vivid memory of all. The feeling of that day still gives me chills till now...

"The days passed slowly afterwards, I had no hope in coming out anyways. I didn't wanna come out. I was devastated and crushed, I wished death more than once, but never got it. The small things I used to be upset about in the past seemed so trivial and silly now. I remember my little sister, and how her crying used to wake me up and upset me before. How I longed for her crying, her laughter, just holding her in my arms. I never saw her afterwards, she got married before I got out, and she moved away, she traveled to England with her husband...she never came back. She never knew me, I was away all the 22 years of her life, I couldn't blame her for not seeing me after that. But I missed her so much, she was the only family member left for me, after my mom died from grieving for me, and my dad died in one of the kidnappers operations in our neighborhood....

"One of the girls with me in that place was called Zainab. She was a pretty girl, who amazingly had a sense of humor that I envied her for. She was my friend, and the sister I left outside. She used to tell me about her family, her friends, and her childhood sweetheart, Taher. She told me that he comes to visit whenever visitation is allowed, and he's waiting for her when she comes out. She used to talk about him in a tone of someone really in love, I loved their love story and longed to have one of my own, but that dream seemed so far, after what I've been through. Zainab, one day, didn't show up. They say the kidnappers took her to 'talk' to her. She then returned to her room, and didn't come out that day...or the days after that. She cut her wrist, they said. I missed her smile, laugh, and her talk about Taher and their wedding. After that with a few moths, we knew she was killed. Raped to death, they said. Taher never showed up again....

" I've learned so many things since I entered that place. I was too young then, but I guess I understood what was going on. It's the vague memory of that place that is keeping me going. I'll fight, like I did that day. But this time, I don't think their force and might can make me surrender. They've taken away my life, my family, and my children after that day. They've taken away my choices in life, my dreams, my friend and my only sister. They've taken away my neighborhood, my house, and my land. But they've never taken away my heart, spirit and faith. They've never taken away my hope. They couldn't make me shut up, and not pray. They couldn't stop my tears when I hear the name Allah. They couldn't break me down. Whatever happened to me that day or any other day was a test, that's what I tell myself and the girls and women who work with me. We're fighters, and fighters endure...

"I know I'm dying soon, it seemed like a dream once, now it's a cure. I know that I left more than I took in this life, and this is relieving. Someday, someone might remember me, or not, it's not important. My memory, myself.We is not important. What matters is that these people won't forget the high walls the kidnappers built upon us for years, the pains and tears...I hope they won't forget Zainab. I hope life won't take them in its waves, and they'll leave the house, the home and the land. I hope they stay and fight...cuz we're fighters. And fighters never forget....fighters endure..."



From the first time I laid eyes on Gamal, I knew he wasn't like any other prisoner. It was almost as if he had some sort of a fortress around him that protects him from other inmates. I wasn't a guard long enough to know the 'code' of prison, and that it's not a right thing to get close to a prisoner, but something about him made it hard for me to let him go unnoticed.
He was sentenced to death in two months, but if you look at him, he seemed like he could care less. He had that peaceful look on his face, and that shadow of a smile that makes you feel that everything is going to be just fine. He wasn't handsome, but his face had this gesture of nobility, that set him apart. Most of the time you'd find him wandering alone in the yard, or just sitting in his cell, as if he's waiting for something. Holding a book in his hands, and reading from it in a low, yet steady voice. I always wondered in myself about what he was reading, but never dared to ask. One of my colleagues once told me that he had the 'Gamalmania' before, a phase of fascination that everyone's been through at some point, having said that he had to remind me that he's a terrorist, and a man who hates everyone who opposed him and would kill me in any time given. After I left my colleague, I looked at Gamal from a distance, he looked back with that same smile, and then walked to where he usualy sits. It was almost hard for me to see him as someone who'd kill, but at the same time, I was trained to detached my feelings and any emotions I might have for someone in that prison, these were the orders and that was the law.
I was a fresh-meat at that time, easily impressed, and easily intimidated. I've seen many faces, and known many people during that time, but if you ask me why I only remember Gamal's distinctive face, I won't have a specific answer, all I can say is that, by time, I knew things that most people don't know, or don't bother to know about him, and the likes of him. Gamal was human, flesh and blood, he wasn't a monester, eating human remains and dinking blood at night. He was a human being, the thing that some people working here tend to over-look.
One day, as I was walking back to my office to finish some paper work concerning the new comers for the prison, I heard a low voice or someone, saying something in a steady and an unhesitant voice. The voice was coming from the office of the head officer of the prison. I stopped, turned back a couple of steps, and took a small peak inside. Now that I come to think about it, I know why Gamal's face stayed with me all these years, even when he's dead. It was that day when I saw him broken that changed everything. He was sitting there, his face coverd wih blood, his hands and body shivering, looking down with closed, wet eyes, and reciting something I could't understand. I stood there watching, not knowing what to think or what to do. His clothes were torn, and his leg was bloody. I was taken at first by the scene, but then I was even more shocked to see Gamal cyring, he always seemed like he didn't even know that word, it didn't belong to his dictionary. But as I looked further, it all came to me. I found the book he always held in his hands, thrown carelessly on the floor, and looked like it was stepped on by one of our 'boots'. I never knew what that book was, but the way Gamal always held it, reminded me of how a mother hold her little child, lest someone hurts him or take him away. As I was standing there, someone appraoched me from behind. I starlted, and looked back, it was the head officer.

"Did you need something?" he said to me with a little yellow-ish smile.
"No, sir. I just thought I heard something, so I went to check up and see what was up"
"Nothing interesting there. Just another one of the sheep. I had to go for a drink, to have the energy to continue"
"Yes, sir"
"It's all for the good of our country. It's all for the good of the world, you know"
I looked at him, remebering Gamal's face and said firmly "Yes, sir".
I couldn't sleep that night, I kept thinking about what I saw, and about our head officer. It was almost surreal, that the next day, I had to go to Gamal's cell first thing in the morning to see that I wasn't dreaming. He was sitting there, in the darkest corner of his cell,holding his ruined book near his chest, and leaning towards the wall. He was asleep, but the marks of the beating and the bruises were very those who wanna see. I reached for him, and gently woke him up. He opened his eyes in pain, and looked up at me with his brown eyes, and attempted to get up. I offered him my hand, he looked at me and had a shadow of a smile on his face.
"It's okay, I can get up" He said, as he leaned on the wall, and got up.
"Are you....okay?" I asked hesistatingly
"I'm fine..alhamdo lelah" I didn't understand these last words, but I assumed it was a word equivalent for 'I'm fine'.
He paused a minute then he looked back at me with a somewhat serious face.
"You were standing there...last night, at the door"
I looked at him in surprise, as I didn't even know he was conscience then. I didn't know what to say, which was strange, cuz I'm an officer, he has no power over me, and yet I'm afraid to say that I was there and saw it all and done nothing about it.
"What door?" I said
He looked at me for a few seconds...then the little smile on his face was back..
"I was probably seeing things...I'm sorry to bother you"
I looked at him, and went speechless. I put the plate, with the food on, and got out of the cell.
I spent the next few days, convincing myself that it was all 'for the good of the country' and 'the good of the world', I kept on repeating what my collegue once told me, about how Gamal is a terrorist, how he's held here to prevent any more killing, and how he'd kill me anytime given.
The picture of Gamal, sitting there on that chair, broken and shattered kept hunting me all the time since. I kept asking and wondering with myself, what more can they possibly want from someone who'd sentenced to death? What more are they hoping to achieve from someone who has nothing left to lose?. I sometimes dispised myself for feeling sorry for him, reasoning that by telling myself that he's a killer. A cold-blooded killer. These words were like pain-killers, they can ease the pain of the horifying picture in my head for a while, but sooner than later, it all comes hunting me all over again.
Gamal now had only two days to go. I went to his cell to get him his day's meal, when I found him sitting on his I bed, looking at the floor, and lost in his own world. Like a little kid, entering the study of his father, I knocked on the iron door, to notify him that I was there. He looked up at me, then looked down once again.

"I'll come again tomorrow to get you ready for the execution day, do you have any questions?"
"Don't I get a last meal or something?" he said in a jokingly
"Not" I said with a little smile, that I soon wiped away, as the head officer was heading towards us.

"What's going on here?" said the head officer
"I was serving him his meal...sir" I said, as I stood tight and looked straight ahead.
"I want him in my office, he can have his meal later" said the head officer, as he walked away.
I felt a small chill running down my neck, as they took Gamal to the head's office. As that picture came to my mind again, I felt the urge to stop them, and take him away from them, but then, I managed to convince myself...Gamal was a killer, he was a terrorist, and that him being locked away and tortured was for the good of the nation and the good of the world.
The next morning was the last morning Gamal had on the face of the earth. I went to his cell, got him his morning meal, and waited till he finished it, cuz then I had to shave his head, for he was getting the electric chair.

"You know, if you need a final special meal, I can manage to get you one..secretly" I said as I prepared the brazers for the shaving process.
"Thank you" he said with a warm smile.."I'm fine with what you get me" he said, while I thought about the little slices of dried bread, and the little cold soup, and wondered, which part of that was he 'fine' with. I went on shaving his head, while he was reciting in the same manner, the same things he always recited.

"What is it that you're always reciting?" I said, as I knew this was probably my last chance of knowing.
"It's Koran, Muslims' holy book...I recite verses from it, it keeps me peaceful"
"Are you...scared?" I said, hesistatingly
"From being executed you mean? no, not really" he said, then he paused a second then said in a steady voice,
"I'm being executed for believing in something, and standing up for it, and protecting it...I'll die with a smile on my face, cuz I know that I've done something to be proud of, something that might make God pleased with me...what more can a man ask for"
"You mean killing people? is that what will make your God proud" I said in a serious tone. As much as I liked Gamal's personality for some twisted reason, I couldn't stand him saying that killing people was something that should make him proud.
"So that is my crime? killing people" he said in a tone, as if he finally knew the answer to something he always wondered about.
"You're a threat to national security" I said, elaborating.
"Whose national secutiry" he asked in a sarcastic way.
"United States security" I said the first thing that came to my mind...."for starters" I added.
"Yeah, of course, The United States" he said in a low voice. And that was pretty much the last time me and Gamal spoke to each other.
Later on that night, the execution was carried on. As his guard, I was present during the whole process. As they sat him on the chair, they took away the book from his hands. It looked like as if they were taking a part of him with it. Then right before they place the black sack on his head, I can almost swear that I saw a shadow of a smile on his face, as he looked on at something, I didn't know what it was though.
Gamal died, and with his death there was a certain void left in my soul, and in the prison. Then it hit me...I never really knew what Gamal did for living, why he was really locked up for, and what did he really do. All I knew about him, was the information provided by my superiors. I couldn'd dare to ask for a clearance to see Gamal's file, or either I'd be questioning thier reasons in prisoning him. But after he died, I was finally allowed into Gamal's real world, before he got into prison.
As I sat down, reading his file, something snapped in me. A few tears ran from my eyes, and I sobbed. It was the first time for me to cry in a very long time. But reading that file, knowing Gamal and his 'crime' was something that will forever stay with me. In the file, it was written with a black, bold font:

"Gamal Abdel-Hameed Khan was found a threat to national security, due to his field-work as a journalist in Falooja. His reports were found utterly dangerous, and required drastic measures against his presence in Iraq. It's under the military laws, that we placed him in this prison in Guantanamo, untill further notice"
It was the first time for me to realize that Gamal never even been to American, the country he's accused of being a threat to. I stared at the papers for a long while, rememering Gamal's final words about standing up for what he believed in.
Ever since my eyes came across that file, I resigned from the prison post. I'm now considered a national securit threat myself, for I've been organising protest marches against the Guntanamo prison and it's violations to the international prisoners protocol. It's ironical how Gamal's death changed so many things in me. Everyday I visit the memorial I built for him after leaving the prison. The stone on his grave had a writing on it, that I chose, for I couldn't find any better words to describe him:

"Here lies a brave, honest man. Gamal Khan"


The Old Man's Shop

The noise of the big city in a distance was heard faintly by the old man, as he made his way through the messy, narrow road that lead to his small house. It was the daily trip he took to and from his house to the little cigarette shop he owned, three streets from where he lived. He got used to the bumpy road, the gasoline lamps, the smell of late night cooking and the sound of that radio somewhere. He got used to all this that he could almost tell what song will be on the radio on a certain night, or what will his neighbor cook for the weekend. It was all so predictable. Nothing in the old man’s life was catchy or interesting, just another person whom we see daily, and whom we’re either accustomed to overlook, or give a quick glance, maybe even wonder how old he might be. It was almost mechanical, the trip to and from his house, how he sat in his little shop, various people passing him by everyday, all of them wanting a cigarette. Some of them bought a whole packet; some begged him for one cigarette. The old man knew how hard life can be, so he gave them what he could. He knew very well that smoking is a killer, but who said that these people weren’t more than just walking corpses. Smoking was just something to make their deaths plausible.

The old man remembered almost everyone who passed by him everyday, though none of them ever took a second to ask him even about his name. The only business they wanted from him was to get them their cigarettes, and the only business he wanted from them was entertaining his boring, lonely hours. He, by time, could tell who’s who in the crowd. The ‘very important people’ from those who pretend to be one, their problems and why they needed a cigarette. He thought that, looking at people and taking time to see their faces, was what made him understand them, though nobody really took the time to look back at him.

Days passed by the old man, sometimes boring, as in seeing almost the same faces everyday, and sometimes it came with new momentary-friends, so to speak. One day, a young man passed by him, asking him about a certain address that was written down on a piece of paper. The old man looked up at the young fellow, and smiled, remembering the day he was forced out of the school because his father didn’t have enough money. He looked at the young man, and told him he couldn’t read. He didn’t need to read to live. Sometimes it seemed that all he needed was just to sit in his little shop, observing people. That was his sole teacher in life.

The old man longed for someone to sit down and talk to him, but people were always too busy to even turn their heads around. He saw in every young man his lost youth and in every little child, playing in front of him in the street, the family which he never had. He’d look at the children in his street, while playing football in front of his shop, clapping his hands every time one of them scored a goal. The little children never really paid attention or looked at him, they were too busy playing, but the old man was never too tired to applause.

One day, the old man didn’t show up in his shop. Many people passed by his little shop, without noticing the little closed door. One young man, who used to buy cigarettes from the old man for a long time, saw the closed door. He approached it quietly, and without a second glance, asked a man, sitting in front of the next shop, if he knew a nearby cigarette shop. The man directed him to one, and the young man went on his way.

The bumpy road, the gasoline lamps, the smell of late night cooking and the distant sound of the radio, all remained, it were only the old man’s heavy, slowly, yet steady steps that were no longer heard. The shop remained closed, unnoticed, people remained busy and life went on.



An Ordinary Day

I looked at the clock, then at the blank page in front of me, then at the clock again. I think it’s been an hour, or, to be accurate, it’s been an hour and 15 minutes since I sat here like this. Many people always talked to me about Writer’s Block, but as I’ve never had one before, I was so confident that I would never face such a thing. It was a silly, ridiculous idea to imagine that I could sit, just sit on my desk, and not be able to write something on a white sheet. But as it’s always been said, there’s a first time for everything. And apparently, that was my first.

“Are you gonna sit here for long?!” wondered my older sister. One fact about my sister is that she always believes that I’m better off doing errands around the house than sitting down to write. She was in an all-time bad mood for some reason.

“Life isn’t fair. It’s not fair at all” You’ll find her saying, as she remembers her glories in basketball when she was still in Middle School (which was winning a couple of tournaments with the team, in which she only played like 20 minutes or so, and luckily scored a couple of points). The thing that she had to give up, at some point for an obvious reason. She had a weak knee. But that was only the doctor’s opinion; it didn’t do the trick for my sister, as she was mourning every now and then about her wasted future and the fact that she could have been a pro by now, hadn’t she had ‘bad luck’.

“Do you need the room? Cuz I might stay here for a while. I’m writing” I said, not looking at her, holding my pen, and trying with all my might to concentrate, despite the noisy sound of the vacuum.

“I need to clean. I know you’d rather sit and sleep in dirt than do anything round the house. Such a spoiled brat. You know that someday, you’ll know that this is all you got, cleaning the house. Then you’ll know that what you’ve been doing, and all these hours you spent on that desk were for nothing. Learn from my life story. I could have ended up otherwise, if it hadn’t been for my lousy luck. I would have been featured on Sports Illustrated, and could have had a beach house and….” As she went on, I pretended to be looking at her, adjusting myself on nodding and showing signs of sympathy every five seconds, while I was still thinking about my writer’s block. I was devastated to know that I, of all people, would have such a thing. I never, and I mean never, ran out of ideas. I was like a flowing river; it was too much to believe.

As my sister refused to leave the room, I had to leave, and try my luck elsewhere. The only place where my sister’s vacuum wasn’t making noise, was the living room, near the garden. I thought it was a good place, and that maybe my block will go away when I face nature. Well, I was wrong. I found my mom, planting and watering her flowers in the little garden of hers, she seemed so preoccupied, that she hardly noticed me sitting by the window, right behind her. My mom loved her garden, sometimes, I think, more than she loved us. Something about it made her feel in control. As a stay at home mom, she had to give up most of her dreams. Those that she never really knew, but she was positive that she had them. I asked her more than once, what were your forsaken dreams; she’d look at me, ponder for a couple of minutes and finally say:

“I could have been anything I wanted, I could have been…an air hostess, everyone I knew always told me I had a nice smile, and a very nice figure, with nice legs to go with the short skirt. Well, at least I had that someday before” She’d then stop, as if remembering these victorious days, when she used to walk down the street, and get all the eyes of the finest guys in town following her. I’d ask her jokingly, how come she fell for my father; she’d look like she’s been reminded of a sorry accident and say:

“Your grandmother likes to call it Fate. I think its mere bad luck” She’d say, and the turn back to gardening. For anyone who’d hear how much people talk about bad luck in my family, would find it so hard to believe how we’re still alive. I like to call THAT good luck.

I continued sitting behind my mother. Enjoying the beautiful scenery and the silence, trying hard to break the wall that’s been built between me and my words. I was about to start writing, when my father suddenly stormed into the room. His face was as red as a dark face can be, and it seemed like he had just been into a fight, or at least was about to start one.

“Dad? Are you okay?” I asked him as soon as he entered. He looked at me, I think with contempt, for you never know what my father’s facial expressions express. His face never shows any kinds of inner feelings. He’s mostly frowning; I can’t recall seeing my father smiling. Not to mention laughing. I always had the feeling that my dad was always angry for some reason. I never knew what is it was. But something this time was altered, he wasn’t frowning, it seemed that he’s on the edge of screaming.

“NO…I’m NOT okay…not even close. Your brilliant brother is expelled from school for two weeks. TWO freaking weeks. I was called to his school today…” He then stopped talking, took his breath, he seemed to have forgotten to breath, and then he turned to my mother, who was apparently too busy – and happy – with her little garden, that she was hardly paying any attention to anyone or anything.

My dad walked to and fro in the room. He couldn’t settle down, even when I tried to make him. It wasn’t the first time for my brother to cause problems; it was his ‘thing’ actually. He was neither good in school nor in life. The most ironic thing about him is that he always had an excuse or a reason for screwing up in right about everything.

“These are my abilities” was his catchy phrase. He wasn’t even creative in making up excuses, nor lies. I’ve tried more than once to get him to sit down and try to study or read or anything. He didn’t even like sports; his best ‘sport’ was to hang out with his friends around the neighborhood, hardly doing anything useful.

“You’ll see. Someday I’ll be very famous and successful. I’m not stupid, I just don’t bother with showing off, like everyone else does” Of course to my brother, showing off was getting good grades, and passing his exams. We all failed with him, and it seems that he being expelled was the end of it for my father.

“He needs to be punished. He HAS to be punished. I need to find the appropriate punishment and give it to him” My father kept on saying to himself, as if searching for the best way to make my brother suffer for what he did. See, my father was that kind of a man who believed that without suffering, there will be no manners or discipline. He wasn’t harsh, not at heart, but on the outside he was very strict, and as I said, always frowning. He was also one of those people who married just for the sake of marriage. For him, it’s just another social tradition that should be carried out, and should be tolerated, with all its outcomes. Unlike most of the people here, my dad was probably the only one, maybe besides me, who didn’t believe in bad luck. Instead, he believed that not being what he wanted in life was cuz he was envied by many people for being himself. He’s been thought as a very smart person, obviously someone forgot to tell him about Einstein, but that would just be a name to my dad, just another sheep in the flock.

When my brother came home, it looked like Troy all over again. Lots of shouting and screaming. My mother finally came into the house, joined in the fight, and as usual she defended her beloved son. It seemed to at that point that my sister’s vacuum was better after all. I knew that I won’t be able to write anything this time. I decided to go out, maybe to a park, and try to clear my head; maybe my block will go away after some fresh air and new scenery.

As I was getting ready to go out, I overheard my family still fighting over my brother’s problem. My dad was still shouting, my sister was still vacuuming, and my mother took the high way and got out in her garden again. I took a look at the house as I was on the door step. Something about the whole scene made me smile. It was only then that my block vanished, and I knew exactly what I wanted to write.

I sat again on my desk, despite my sister’s protests. I got my notebook, opened a blank page, looked at the clock and started writing.

“I looked at the clock, then at the blank page in front of me, then at the clock again. I think it’s been an hour….”


One Hundred Stokes

IT WAS a gloomy day. There were sun rays every now and then, but mostly thick clouds, so thick that you can almost feel the weight of the water about to drop to earth. But nothing stopped the city from moving. People were in the streets as usual, as sharp and as regular as they always are. Despite the fact that this was possibly the first cloudy day in three months of hot summer, and although they, in the humid thirsty summer days, prayed for a shade of grey that can soak up the sun rays even a little bit. She sat with a hot cup of tea in her hands, watching the horizon blocked by the far reaching buildings. She longed for something that she couldn't figure out; she felt a heavy sigh in her breast and within her ribs, a sigh that she couldn't get out into the void. She turned on some music, and started to undress. She got into the shower, and felt relaxed by the steam of the hot water. As she was getting dressed for work, she still felt that sigh and a certain weight lying on her chest. She didn't give it that much thought, though, as she made her way to the street. She had a day of work ahead of her, and nothing should distract her from that. However, she couldn't help but look up at the cloudy sky. It was an unusual summer day in the city. No burning sun and no hot breeze. Just a chilly one. She made her way to the subway, still feeling the heaviness on her chest. She sat there, looking at the people. They were the same people, as everyday, but somehow looked different today. They looked clearer somehow. She could almost see through them. She sat there, watching and observing. She didn't really observe or watch something in particular, but a general view of the people. She didn't think of something in particular, but general thoughts and ideas. She wondered where each of them was going, what they do for living and if they had any problems. She found herself wondering if any of them was feeling that sigh she felt. She couldn't ask anyone about it, for it felt vague. She had a feeling of being transparent. It made her absorb and grasp more about the world than she wanted or needed. It was tiring. When she arrived at her working place, she felt a need to look at everyone in the office, as if she was seeing them anew. Did they change? Impossible. It's probably her, she thought. It's that weight she's carrying on her chest and even her shoulders. She looked out the window of her office, and felt kind of connected to the heavy clouds of the sky. She was probably the only person who was looking out of the window and into the sky. She was the only one wondering about these sublime newcomers to the town. But then again she thought, maybe everyone did look but she just didn't see them.

WHEN SHE finished work and went home, she stayed for about an hour in the tub. She turned on some Chopin and just stayed there. She thought that maybe if she took a long warm bath, she would finally shake off that feeling she had all day. This sigh and that clinch in her chest. Neither did Chopin nor the warm water or even the little wine glass do anything. She stepped out of the tub and tucked herself into the bed. It was a chilly night, and all the windows were closed. She stayed in bed for another hour, or was it two hours? She couldn't tell. She didn't know when she finally slept. She just hugged her pillow and slept. Later in that night she thought she heard Chopin still playing. She didn't mind though, she smiled as the Nocturne went on. She was an expert on classical music, but she couldn't figure out which piece that was. She just smiled and enjoyed the sound of the piano. She had a sweet and almost intoxicating feeling of being a little girl again, sitting in bed, with her mother brushing her hair, one hundred strokes before she goes to sleep. That was the tradition. She could feel her mother's voice and her low laughter, as she sang her before she went to sleep. Her smile widened. Before she slept again she recalled a picture. A little girl riding a white graceful horse. That wasn't her, she thought, but it felt familiar somehow. She smiled once more, and pulled the blanket up to her neck and slept again. The last thing that went through her mind before she closed her eyes was that the sigh and the heaviness were gone. She felt light again. And out of the closed window and into the dark sky, she could see the sparkling of a star.

THE NEXT morning the sun was shinning again. Seemed that people hardly noticed it was gone the day before. And when they found her in her bed, cold and blue, they hardly noticed the big smile on her face. They couldn't see the sigh evaporate into the air. They wanted to bring her back. But for what? She amazingly kept holding on to the blanket, waiting for her mother to finish the hundred strokes. And for Chopin to finally take his bow.


A Poem of No Title

A shout shattering a thousand stars,
Still in stand with a univerise torn,
A million souls, screaming afar,
In a sound so mystical, and forlorn.

Falls of withered leaves of tree,
Winters of a reddish sun,
The month of June called on with plea,
Yet answers come from noone.

Flags of places where we don't belong,
Colors that made up histories we mock,
Names made of letters we don't comprehend,
We say the names each day,
Names we never felt.

Quarrels and disputes,
Over a lost cause,
The crimson spilled,
On a stony road.
We stumble upon the dead and kneel,
Seeing they're long gone,
Their lives we steal.

We trade all their misery,
With a smile of perfection,
We kill them yet again,
With a Providence rejection.
We pray to God for ultimate deliverance,
We shed glass-like tears,
Yet token our hatred,
With firey feelings, of persistence.

We clash, we crush,
We break our bones,
And stand up on a crutch,
Too fight some more.

It's Pride and Vanity,
Mistaken for dignity,
And those hearts and minds,
Depend on a play of dice.

Alone we stand,
At the end of the day
Obsolete, wounded, and in dismay,
The color-masked faces,
Are now pale white,
As we wait upon it to cease,
This endless night.


Music Box

I grave my soul and heart,
and put them in a music box,
I gently place them, hollow and flesh,
and make the tunes start.

I tremble as I hold it,
It weighs way too much,
It's dripping with crimson sorrow,
And is playing a song of lust.

And then I open,
The sealed-up box,
Rusted and cracked around the frame,
I find them rotten, my soul and heart,
Yet still playing the same.

I touch my chest,
A darkened hole I feel,
I close the music box,
And by its side I kneel.

I pray, I cry,
Then I hold it up,
And throw it into the sea.

Then wipe my tears,
And start walking,
To where they call for me.



There she walks, with a word or two,

Her face is hidden within her sleeves,

She utters many words, that they don't know,

She says a prayer to the night that creeps.

There she comes with sad closed eyes,

There she talks in a cordless sound,

She feels hollow even in her disguise,

And only cries, when nobody is around.

Along she comes with a torn dress,

Dragging what's left of her life,

Her hair, her nails, her skin, it's a mess,

Nothing is left, for which to strive.

There she lies, in the middle of the night,

Tired of waiting on a sunrise,

Her eyes are finally open,

But looking at nothing,

Her words are finally spoken,

But saying nothing,

Her hair, her nails, her skin, all is cold,

There she reached her destined flight.


A Wanderer

In the golden fog, I stood alone,

Shivering, save for a blush on the face.

I held my knapsack, and my heart,

I brushed my feet across the earth,

To remove my trace.

I looked right and I looked left,

Nothing existed in the White surrounding me,

The piercing fog still lay thick,

And I started to look back again,

On the road I left undone.

The ray of light was still but far,

Though no sun was in the horizon,

My feet still brushed across the earth,

My blood and tar

Were found companions,

In the dullness of a day's rebirth.

The golden fog now turned red,

The ray of light was blazing fire.

I stopped abruptly, and looked around,

I heard the voices whispering in dire:

"Make your way, but make it steady,

It's he who does so that ends up happy.

Don't be afraid, you'll make it safe,

If not, we'll be here, digging your grave.

Beware of the road, and don’t look behind,

The road is always cruel and never kind"

Amidst the white darkness

And the pain

I made my way

Yet again.

Suddenly my feet were no longer there,

A thousand feet under, I lay and stared

Straight ahead it was all clear

And the golden fog, the white fog,

Lay thick and heavy,

Above my head.


Don't Say It Out Loud

Don't say it out loud,
You can only whisper,
Such words would shake,
Our world with fear.

Don't say it out loud,
Though in a distance,
The shivering, humming mouths,
Say it in a prayer,
Before they go to sleep.

Don't say it out loud,
Let it remain unknown,
To the ear,
Though in the soul
It's carved, with a million spears.

Don't say it out loud,
Maybe in a hundred years,
There will come an infant,
Who won't feel its fear.

Don't say it out loud,
Just let it flow,
An afterthought,
Before we close our eyes,

Don't say it out loud,
Just sigh it to the void,
From a heavy heart
That wishes it all away.

Don't say it out loud,
And maybe soon,
As time passes by
Singing it's sorrowful rhyme,
We will forget, forgive
And learn to heal.



Singing of the dire
Crimson robes of a sickly choire
For the forgotten hero
The ghost of holy time

He died into ashes
Death closed his eye lashes
On a wet dusty ground
That never bore the green

He did what he thought he must
Showed them horror, in a handful of dust
Then retreated in a red armour
The scent of which poured from his heart

In a distance he saw the temple
He sprawled and closed his eyes
A tiresom smile lingered
And then there came the winter.


A Heart

A heart without a home,
Without a country,
Without the burdens of the pain,
And agony.

A heart without those tingles,
Those feelings of pity,
Those frozen tears,
Muffled screams,
Of death and calamity.
A Heart

A heart without a name,
A nation or a place,
Just wandering, with bits and pieces,
Of everywhere,
No real emotions, not a single sigh,
And nobody to mourn it,
When it's in the sky.

Just a roaming heart,
With no history,
With no soul, blackened by misery,
Nothing at all,
Just a heart, not even with victory.