4 August 2012

Shai at the Checkpoint - what is it about her

Don’t know your name yet, but it doesn’t matter. We’re not close friends yet. Your name will reveal itself to me in due time.

You’re a vague image. Tall, lean, nicely built. But you carry your body bent forward in an arch, like a stooped tree. Maybe it’s because you’re so tall, and you try to diminish your appearance. But don’t you know it has the opposite effect?

You’re wearing faded jeans. Too long for your legs. They’re fraying at the bottom. The back pocket has an imprint of your wallet on it, and a small hole in the bottom left corner.

You have a jumpy walk. It’s the left foot that kind of skips and bounces – first the toes, then the heel touching the ground. The right foot drags behind, surrendering to the beat.

It’s a walk you’ve mastered – maybe unconsciously – during the years of making music. It’s that complete detachment of the left foot from the rest of your body when music is played.

Yes, you’re edgy when you know you will move from one world to another. In this world, you’re doped on hasheesh more hours than there are in a day.

Your bed is occupied by two women on alternate days. And then there are those who find their way into your bed after a performance and are gone the next morning, never to be seen again. Shamed.

But the one your soul yearns for is unattainable for you. Out of reach. Not from your social standing. A real intellectual. It’s not her beauty that draws you to her. There’s nothing unique about that. The usual stuff – dark olive skin, dark brown eyes, hair black as the night. In nice long and think curls down her back. No. it’s something else you can’t describe in any essential way.

It’s in the way she sits on the ground, like she becomes part of the earth. It’s in the way she sips her shai – as if it were the single most important task in front of her. It’s in the way she cocks her head to the left when Um Maysara speaks. It’s in her smile – her body takes on a different form when a smile touches her lips. It’s in the way she smoothes away the curls blown by the naseem into her face. It’s in the way she holds her body relaxed when faced with armed kids at the checkpoint. It’s in the way she walks into that other world – full of confidence and freshness.

And it’s in the way she acknowledges your presence with the softest of smiles and a barely visible nod of the head. And with that smile, you cringe and almost stumble backwards. You, with your bouncy left foot full of self-confidence, lose it all.

Now can you put in words what it is about her that draws you like a mad animal that just smelled the fresh blood of prey?

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