6 July 2013

Haifa Fragments

the time has come for cruel editing. The following piece is to be taken apart and integrated in parts somewhere in the manuscript. Still, it remains on of my favorite pieces of the original work:

And she danced ورقصت
Maisoon’s memory of their first meeting was in complete incongruence with Ziyad’s, but she let him hang on to his narrative nevertheless, keeping hers undisclosed. Maybe one day she will be able to share it with him, but not now – not yet. There were parts of her she wasn’t ready to expose, for fear of –. So when he would whisper in her ear after painful love-making about his toes feeling the rough grains of sand while he watched her dancing that night, she would just smile in the dark, whispering “ehkeeli kaman” –tell me more. But for her, it was a night of giving in.

Her body desperately converging with the sounds – becoming one with water. Yearning to find the slippery roots in the liquid. Land-less. Language-less. Only wet sand beneath her feet – unstable. Reaching out for something to hold on to – anything to keep her from shrinking into a crumpled piece of a discarded history book. Her image of herself fit perfectly with what was happening; the Ministry of Education pulling out the high school history books after the beginning of the school year only to erase her history, replacing it with one that fit the character of the state better; the Nakba bill, criminalizing anybody commemorating the Nakba day; deleting the Arabic names of cities.

That evening, she had connected the dots between all these events. Though she knew these things were not new – they have been going on for years. She didn’t know why these specific ones had such forceful effect on her. Maybe it was the act of permanent deletion that terrified her so. She was struck with a desolate feeling that they want to delete her personally – delete all signs of her memory. Of her ever being here. I am not wanted here – the place I call home. I am set to be deleted, just like that: by pressing “ctrl-alt-delete.” Do they want to erase the history of a whole people? My language? The memory of my footprints? Even that.

As Tayseer began to play the durbakki, she pushed these thoughts onto the edge of the water, demanding their drowning in the foaming waves. Then she renounced herself completely to the music. She hadn’t noticed Ziyad as he watched her mesmerized.

Abandoned to the music, her mind was becoming a tangle of thoughts. Suddenly, she was thinking of winter, that season she loved most. But it was a season of sadness for her also. She thought of all the colourful scarves she loved to wear in the winter. Her favourite ones were of course forbidden to her: the red-and-white and the black-and-white kafiyyas her father had given her.

The black-and-white kafiyyah wrapped around her shoulders, she feels like a strange kind of cheese people are trying to figure out. Long ago it had lost its meaning; politicized when the west had turned it into a symbol of terrorism, and then again de-politicized when it started being mass-manufactured by brand labels in all colours of the rainbow only to become a mere fashion statement. Before leaving her apartment in the winter, she puts her kafiyyah on, wrapping it around her shoulders, and stands in front of the mirror to contemplate the woman with the olive skin for a few moments. Then, with a thread of sadness unspooling from a corner of the kafiyya, she takes it off and hangs it back, leaving part of her very identity at home.

When Ziyad approached her, only small particles of her were with him – her other parts still immersed in the sizzling sensation she always experienced after dancing like that. Only Tayseer’s durbakki could make her body move like that, detaching itself from her will in the process.

(c) khulud khamis

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