20 May 2015

village life. Fragment from "Taboos in Arabic" - scene six. Hadeel

The first day of the last year in high-school. Biology class. Bisan can’t keep her eyes off Hadeel. Something fundamentally essential changed about Hadeel over the summer holidays. Hadeel, the strangest girl in school. Hadeel, always with her purple Beats headphones on – Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Queen. Loose jeans, friendship bracelets in all colours on the left arm, black leather bracelets on the right. Red high All Star sneakers – one green, one blue shoelace. Born and raised in the United States of America – the country where one can reinvent herself, the country of the free, the country of Bob Dylan, Walt Whitman, Janis Joplin, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Where even a black man – even a black man! – can become president of the United States of America. Hadeel’s family came back to the village when she was fifteen, after they lost their son – Hadeel’s older brother – to the streets. He was caught at the wrong time in the wrong place – gangsters’ shootout.
Hadeel was an outsider. It’s not like they didn’t want her to enter their circle. She refused to step in. But it was maybe because she knew she’d be spit out even before making the first step towards. Nobody knew what her voice sounded like.
She spent her summers back in the country of the free, at her aunt’s. But this year, she became even weirder. First day of the last year of high-school, and Hadeel shows up minus her long brown hair. Instead, short blue-dyed bangs peep from under a black baseball cap. The dozens bracelets replaced by a single friendship bracelet in dark purple and white. But there was something else about her. Her walk has changed. It was as if she were walking in another dimension. If, until now, she looked with an empty gaze at her classmates, she now saw through them. She was no longer the invisible one. It was the other way around – everyone else became invisible to her.

Bisan’s been finally able to decipher Hadeel’s Facebook. She’d narrowed down the possibilities to two profiles that could belong to Hadeel, but the blue bangs now featured on the profile picture of one of them. They had no mutual friends, and Hadeel’s Facebook was, like Hadeel herself, mysterious.

(c) khulud khamis, 2015 

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