12 January 2016

on affection - from "Taboos in Arabic," manuscript-in-progress

Old wrinkled men hugging and kissing each other three times on the cheeks, out in the allies between their homes, cousins meeting up at the supermarket, pushing their shopping carts side by side, their loud laughter echoing in the aisles, bouncing back softer, their small children running from one end to the other, slipping in behind the meat counter, hiding, only the tops of their heads visible. A five year old girl getting her weekly pocket money from her grandmother, running outside barefoot, through the garden, shouting to her friend across the street, still running, running, breathless stopping in front of the kiosk at the corner, her stomach up against the cold of the ice-cream fridge. Waiting there until her friend arrives, together they giggle, faces down, down through the glass. Small fingers pointing at this ice-cream, no, they had this one last week. Let’s try this one today. Their small hands struggling to slide the glass, the kiosk owner coming out, bald but with curling black hairs on his arms, you girls want to choose an ice-cream? Here, let me slide this glass for you. More giggles. Going inside to pay, the kiosk owner asking after their families, Alhamdulillah, they’re all tamam, fine. The little girl takes a bill out of her pocket, hands it to the kiosk owner, standing on her toes. He gives her back some coins and they are out. On the street, they find a spot on the sidewalk curb and sit down, legs crossed, tearing at the wrapping paper, in a hurry, before the ice-cream starts melting. Their heads close together, whispering childhood secrets.
(c) khulud khamis
Fragment from "Taboos in Arabic" - manuscript in progress

1 comment:

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