A wait

He was sitting there scared. Despite the fake sense of self-confidence his sunglasses gave, he was completely terrified. He was grateful for the glasses and wondered why he hated them – and the people who wore them – before. They were perfect for him, they hid his panic from the staring eyes of the people in the room. The wait was going to be long, he sensed it and he needed all the help to preserve his cool attitude that day. He could not ruin it.

Andrea helped him choose his clothes that day, she has a good taste, he thought. He knew that she loved him, but he also knew that there was no way he could reciprocate that love. He had to be focused and this whole adventure he was about to embark on, required a great deal of devotion, mental toughness and concentration. Love is a distraction and he – more than anyone – knew the dangers of a distraction. He needed to focus, it was not the time to think about Andrea or any other person, he just needed to play it all in his head in these coming minutes before he was called into the other room, he waited for that day for so long, and now that he had his opportunity, he was not going to ruin it, not for Andrea, not for anyone.

But it was so hard to concentrate. He could still smell her seductive perfume as she came closer to him tying his tie. He could still feel her slender body almost touching his, but not quite. What a tease. He did want to kiss her. He didn’t though, not because he was afraid of starting a new chapter in a hopeless story, but because – in his mind – that was all a training, a test for his toughness and focus. If he could manage the seduction of a woman like Andrea, then nothing on earth could break him down, nothing on the other side of that door could threaten his chances.

He looked down at the bag he had with him. Does anyone realise it’s actually empty? It seemed to fit him, Andrea didn’t approve but he felt like he needed a bag that day. It nicely complemented his glasses and the tie, the whole look he had for that important day. And like the sunglasses that hid the doubts in his eyes, the bag made him walk more confidently, as if it balanced his steps that would otherwise be inclined towards the left and he can not be seen as a leftist, not today at least. He smiled at the thought, it was a clever one and he definitely needed some of that intelligence in the other room. But more importantly of course, he needed the self-assured look, the toughness and a slight inclination to the right. He smiled again.

He started thinking about the uncomfortable chair. It must be a test, he thought, a way for them to test his resilience. He wanted to move to the sofa in front, it must be more comfortable, but he can’t show any sign of being hesitant. That’s the only thing they wouldn’t tolerate. He wished if Andrea was there with him right now then dismissed the thought quickly and cursed that seductive perfume.

There was no sound coming from the other room and none coming from the big window facing him. Absolute silence. He started humming some jazz tunes in his head, to entertain himself and ease the pressure. He looked at his watch and he could swear the clock went backwards. That jazz tune was his favourite, the first time he listened to it was with …. Damn … Focus, now, focus.

He started thinking about the other room, he wished if he came earlier to get done with this whole matter. Nothing in life is worse than anticipation. He wondered what was behind the door? how many people? how come people go in and never return back? Do they have a backdoor? Are they wearing sunglasses too? He felt thirsty, and although he was told where he could get some water, he chose to wait. He was afraid that if he got up, then he wouldn’t be able to recollect the confident appearance he worked so hard on building.  He didn’t really need the water. Resilience, remember, resilience, he told himself. And anyhow, few more minutes and the wait would be over. Maybe just kill the minutes thinking about that perfume..

 

He then saw the cord in front of him. It must have been there since he sat down, but he didn’t notice it for some reason. He started rolling the heel of his shoe on the cord, then got his other foot underneath it. He wondered whether he could make a knot around his leg using only his other foot. He started playing with the cord, pushing it with one foot against the other leg. Just a simple knot, he thought, it would be much easier if he could take off those uncomfortable shoes he had today. He kept trying, after all it was a better training for his resilience than letting his mind wander about Andrea and her perfume. He kept trying until he finally managed to get the wire around his leg, and then skilfully getting its tip between his other leg and the other side of the cord to form a knot. Then he used the chair leg to get a grip and assist him with making the knot tighter. And he did it. But then he realised that his two legs were tied, somehow. He didn’t quite understand how he got himself into that situation, knots were not his strongest suite admittedly. He could use his hands to get out of the problem, but now it was a matter of pride, it was no longer a game and he had to do it using only his feet. These were the rules after all. He started shaking his two legs and rubbing them in different directions to ease the knot and have some room for manipulating the cord but the more he shook his legs, the tighter the knot got. He wasn’t about to give up or resign though, resilience is what he’s known for, and more importantly, what would the men in the other room think if he couldn’t get himself out of a simple problem like that. As he was getting more and more consumed by his cord dilemma, the door was finally open and a gentleman called his name, once, twice, thrice … He finally looked up with exasperation, slowly took off his glasses and said: Can’t you see I am busy now?

The dancing cannibal

Grab life by the horns and dance your way through it. This line is how he convinced me to meet him, I was reluctant at the beginning, it was one thing to chat with him in the cosiness and security of a virtual world, and another to meet him in the real one. I asked him if he’s going to cut me into pieces and eat me for dinner; he said, only after the third date. And here I am, telling you my story, torn into pieces in his bed, lying by his side and feeling life in my veins for the first time.

Our deal was clear. He wanted to eat me. He told me how he ate the women he loved, that this the highest form of passion and union that anyone can ask for. He mentioned that he still has the heart of his last lover, and that he eats small parts of it every now and then to reignite their love. He doesn’t call himself a cannibal, it’s a crude word, he says, it has a judgmental tone to a civilized act of selfless passion, an act that only the purest of us will experience.

His charm is not the type that you stumble on from the first glance. He is tall, muscular and dark, probably had his good days look-wise, but age put his stamp on him, a beer belly, unflattering wrinkles and an unmistakable roughness. He is not particularly talkative either, and besides the women he ate, he did not have many good stories to tell. He does talk lively though, and he has a fiery look that burns under the skin when he speaks. That fire is what made me go back for a second time, after all, I trusted that I would be safe until the third date, and I was somehow hoping that there is more to that fire.

It was on the second date, when we danced, that I let my guards down. He knew his salsa. It ran in his blood, he walked it, smelled it, lived it. Every movement had a meaning, our bodies did not touch, they connected, mellowed together in an act of complete surrender from my side and complete control from his. I haven’t been there before but I knew where I was heading. His wrinkles were beautiful all of a sudden, I strived for his roughness and his look didn’t just burn under my skin, it undressed my soul, left her vulnerable and intoxicated.

He told me from the beginning that he thrives for the ultimate dance, the one where bodies are sacrificed in the most unequivocal form of love, a form that elevates the soul, that disdains time, society and prejudices. A form that doesn’t die.  My charming cannibal salsero! I thought, any reluctance I had to follow him to the end was forgotten after that first dance. What he was offering me was not death, it was rebirth in a superior state, a state that I never knew it exists, until I danced with him and allowed our two souls to touch. I knew what I was heading to and I did not just accept it, I longed for it.

That night, he took me to his home. He gave me a taste of his last lover. A piece of her heart. It tastes like love, he said. It doesn’t, I wanted to reply, it tastes like envy.

Then I was in his bed, I almost reached and touched my soul but I wasn’t there yet. We both knew that that was not the ultimate dance, not even close. We both knew that on our next date, the third one, my body would cease to exist, and when I reach with my hands, I will be able to touch my soul, and that she would be rosy, beautiful, feminine and divine.

I yearned for that third date. It was the right thing to do; after all, bodies are temporary luxuries, they are meant to expire. It’s words, dances and souls that live forever. He was not taking my body, he was handing me my soul, he was handing me a reason to exist and never stop again.

And now it was the third date. I was trembling in excitement and anticipation. It didn’t matter what I wore or how I looked, this was not a journey to the materialistic. Our bodies were just means to achieve a higher destination, all we really needed was that soulful music that I can now feel tickling my veins. We danced as if it was our last dance. Then we danced again. We didn’t kiss because kisses are sad and sadness is out of tune with the journey we were about to take. Our bodies melted together, unified, ecstatic and certain. And as the blood started to become agitated in our perishable bodies, we started to see the climax at the end of a dark alley. I saw the light and I knew that he did as well. I reached for the pinnacle, our bodies behind us, our souls liberated, then I put my hands firmly around his neck, and I took him with me. He smiled, thanked me with his eyes, and happily handed me his body and soul.

Love in the time of malaria

Remember that morning when I woke up and stopped loving you? Remember how we made love the night before and that I kissed you goodnight and I told you that I love you. And I meant it. Then we slept, and something happened.

That night, I had a dream. I was a little boy clinging to the tip of my sick mother’s dress. My older brothers moved the bed outside in the backyard because it was one of those unbearable hot summer evenings. The branches of the trees looked colourless and didn’t move, as if some artist drew them in a hurry on that reddish sky background then ran away from the heat. The smell of a sandstorm was still hanging in the air, as usual. The whole scene was usual except that my mother wouldn’t tell me the story of beautiful Fatma before sleeping, and that my brothers were gathering on the side with a look on their eyes that I was too young to identify as sadness.

That night, you also had a dream. You were a dress, a beautiful dress with all the vibrant soulful African colours. And you were worn by this beautiful lady who immersed you and her children and everyone around with love. A love that defeated the sandstorms and the malaria. You liked being the dress, you liked how you could bend the rules to make your lady look feminine and seductive. You liked how you got so hot under the cruel sun and how that got the blood boiling in your veins, how it made you feel free.

But dreams are tricky. Especially children’s dreams. My mother kept telling us beautiful Fatma’s story, the girl who had a dream, chased it and fulfilled it. For most of us though, dreams are just scribblings on the margin of a life, not important and often better ignored. But no one tells us, so we waste years chasing those childhood dreams, until we realise that beautiful Fatma is just fantasy, that moms do lie and that we – children of the malaria time – we don’t live for our dreams, we live despite of them.

In my dream, I was still clinging to my mother’s dress, and the malaria was making her sweat and shiver. I slept by her side, hoping I have another dream and that she has one, and in that magical moment where the paths of our dreams intertwine as they always do, in that moment, I would hug her and kiss her. Then I would smile one last time with my beautiful innocent eyes before they learn to become sad like my brothers’.

In your dream, you were still the dress around my mother’s body. And as the heat of her body went up, you started to agitate, you realised that this wasn’t the same heat from the sun, it didn’t give freedom, it suffocated it. You tried to let yourself free from her body, to abandon her, and when that magical moment happened and our dreams intertwined, I tried to  hold stronger to the tip of the dress, to you, I begged you not to abandon my mother, not to abandon me. But you already made your mind, you wanted your freedom and the malaria was too much to bear.

We then woke up at the same moment, struggling for breath. I was happy to find you by my side, to find out it was just a dream, I kissed you and I think we made love again. Then we slept.

This time when I slept, I had more dreams but my mother was no longer there, my brothers were far away and I was a man. There were beautiful fields, beautiful women and even some butterflies, you know, just normal boring dream … stuff .

This time when you slept, well.. you probably had dreams too. But they were yours, they didn’t cross paths with mine because we were no longer children, we were grownups, and grownups’ dreams do not cross paths and people don’t magically transform into dresses.

We were back to normal.

Still, when we woke up, something changed and I stopped loving you, and you stopped loving me.

* * * * *

Remember that morning when I woke up and stopped loving you? Remember how we both dreamt that we made love the night before, how we both dreamt that we kissed goodnight and said that we love each other. And we meant it. Then we woke up, and we realised that love was still forbidden in the time and land of malaria. Remember?

خاطرة موامبا

وهناك تلك المرة التي ظننت فيها أنني متّ.

لم أر نورا في آخر الممر، لم يكن بجانبي ملائكة ولم تمر لحظات حياتي أمام عيني. كنت نائما نوما عميقا، نوم أعرف حق اليقين أنه الموت ووددت لو أصحو للحظة لأخبر كل الخائفين من الموت أنه مجرد غفوة.

لم أدرك الحكمة ولم أصل للنيرفانا ولم تكن لي روح. فقط جسدي وأحلامي كما كل ليلة. ولم أتذكر ابني أو صديقتي، فقط أحلام متفرقة بعضها مزعج وبعضها أقل إزعاجا كأي غفوة.

لم أتذكر لحظاتي الأخيرة ولم أفكر في المباراة ولم أتمن أن أكون في مكان آخر أو مع أشخاص آخرين ولم أندم على شيء. لم أحزن لترك حبيباتي ولم أنتظر قبلة وداع.

لم أندم. ولم أندم على أنني ندمت يوما.

لم أهتم بدموع من أحبوني. أدركت أن كلهم لهم أحلام بعضها مزعج وبعضها أقل إزعاجا، وأنهم سينامون ولن يندموا ولن يهتموا بدموع من أحبوهم.

كنت في حالة صفاء، صفاء أن توقن وأن تؤمن. صفاء لا يهم ما قبله ولا يوجد ما بعده.

وفجأة استيقظت.

وعرفت أنها لم تكن سوى مباراة أخرى غير ودية مع القدر. لكني لم أهتم.

** من وحي فابريس موامبا الذي توفي لدقيقتين ثم عاد

Hierarchy of human needs: Food -> water -> Passport

I must say that my obsession with getting a different passport is hardly unique to me. I could argue that it is actually the one thing that unite the majority of young Sudanese (if not African) of today. It is bitterly funny (and unlikely to be a coincidence) that decades after independence, the new generation of Africans is eagerly trying to get rid of the identity that our fathers fought for.

My personal obsession started as a Sudanese boy in Egypt. The ultimate dream for most of us – as teenagers when you really start feeling the burden of your inherited identity – the ultimate dream was getting an Australian, Canadian or American passport (these were the main alternatives). We all had a story of a “Sudanese” who immigrated to one of those countries and when coming back to Egypt/Sudan/wherever, being harassed by a policeman, he “courageously” shows his Carte Blanche to misbehave in the third world: his newly acquired, hardly fought for, digitally signed, Holy Passport.

Being in Europe and having the possibility/mood for looking back at things and thoroughly analyzing them, I remembered my Economics teacher in school. He used to love to explain Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, he liked to emphasize how we – the lucky ones who made it that far at school – how we lie at the bottom of that pyramid (since we were even deprived of the basic need of sex). Regardless of the sexual dilemma in these countries, our teacher always emphasized the value of respect of others to go beyond the first level of the pyramid and how it is what makes fulfilling the rest of the needs a possibility. He couldn’t be more correct.

Lack of respect of others is at the heart of it. Whether it is the ugly policemen of Khartoum who give themselves a divine right to beat the hell out of a woman because of wearing trousers, or people thinking that they are higher than the rest because of tribe or religion, or simply a teacher at school beating kids to fulfill his own lack of respect to himself. Lack of respect – on a higher level – is what made Apartheid, it is what made genocide, it is the cause for the rise of the likes of Bush and Bin Laden, it is what made Hitler and what will make the next Hitler.

This lack of respect creates anger. And it only takes a businessman and/or a politician to transform that anger into something more devastating.

My teacher never proposed solutions to fight this lack of respect, he was not the solution-proposing type of dude. Others – being more idealistic – proposed revolution, the majority clung to Religion as the solution. I was not as courageous as the first group or as naive as the second one, my solution was more pragmatic, it goes somewhere within the line of “Get a fucking passport, climb that bloody pyramid and show your passport in the face of that ugly policeman”.

But regardless of the means, all of us share the same goal: it is absolutely vital for us to climb that pyramid and it is absolutely vital for us to gain the respect of others (and eventually self-respect). It is a need as crucial as food, water … and sex I assume.

to be continued …

Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs

وقبّلتها ثلاثا … في السوق العربي

بدا الجميع في أبهى حللهم …
الحافلات في الانتظار بلا كلل أو ضيق والسواقين لم يكترثوا للدور …
الكماسرة مبتسمون سعداء بما جلبه العيد من بهجة للعيون …
والبياعين لم يأبهوا لأي كشّات تعكر هذا الصفو
حتى الكتّاحة قررت الانحسار في هذا اليوم
كأن الجميع يحتفل …
Continue reading “وقبّلتها ثلاثا … في السوق العربي”

قصة قصيرة جدا … دينق وأسماء

التقى دينق مع صديقته أسماء في السوق العربي.
بعد سلام حار وأشواق عارمة …
استقلوا الحافلة ليتوجهوا إلى مكان لقائهم المعتاد …
طقطق الكمساري …
طق طق طق
مدّ دينق ورقة الألف وأشار بإصبعيه (اتنين)
استمر الكمساري في الطقطقة
طق طق طق
كرر له دينق (اتنين)
لكنه أصر على (الطقطقة) لأسماء التي نظرت لصديقها وأكدت (اتنين)
واصل الكمساري الطقطقة
طق طق طق
فأكد دينق تغالبه الدموع (معاي)
وأكدت أسماء تغالبها الدموع (معاهو).