Thursday, November 29, 2012


It's just a scar. We all get scars. It used to hurt a lot at first, when the wound was still fresh. You take care of it as well as you can, and you bear up with the pain and the infections. Sometimes the painkillers work, sometimes they don't. Little by little, the pain turns into a throb, and then it's almost not there. Sure, sometimes you bump it into the occasional desk or chair and the pain comes rushing back; fresh, potent. You grind your teeth and stifle a little scream, or you just let it out, grateful for the relief if no one is around. Sometimes the memories of how the scar came to be there in the first place take over your mind, always an uninvited guest. Maybe you'll relive the moment or you'll brood on the what-ifs for the rest of the day. Maybe you will sit down and cry, all the energy sucked out of you by some invisible force. Or maybe you'll let it go. By time, you won't let that uninvited guest in, or he will just stop calling. At the end of the day, it's still just a scar. It might fade away into nothing, or it might be with you till you die. One day, when you're old and wrinkled, someone might ask you how you came about that ugly - or not so ugly - scar, and at that moment you will probably remember, but let's hope you don't.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

8 portraits of Longing

“I miss you,” I said.
“I miss me too, Don,” he answered.
I knew what he meant, all too well. I wasn’t sure which of us was lost, him or me. Or was it the rest of the world? You live, you work you die. You meet people that suck all your dreams out of you, or you make up your own dreams that the universe seems so adamant on making impossible. He was right there, and I missed him because he wasn’t there at all, and neither was I.
He’s been dead for 15 years now. I miss him every single day, God rest his soul. Sometimes, I imagine he’s right there, and I would talk to him, tell him everything, and he’d listen quietly and patiently. I’d always know the answer just talking to him, or his ghost – that’s what I like to call him when he’s a figment of my imagination. Most of all, I just miss his hug. Having spent my entire childhood hugging him or making sure I stayed close enough to hug him, the fact that one night, out of the blue, he was gone never really sunk in. Sometimes, I’d be glad he wasn’t there because then he’d be disappointed, and I wouldn’t want him to be disappointed in me. But it didn’t really matter, he is always there, and a figment of my imagination he will always be.
It isn’t easy to be just the two of us. It was actually quite sad sometimes. It’s true that he visits all the time, calls all the time, and remains as annoying as ever, but he just isn’t there which makes it all wrong. But then, I know he’s happier, which makes it all right. I’m not selfish, at least I hope I’m not, but I hate how sometimes some things remain unspoken. I could not ask for more, but I just miss him.
I don’t miss him, not one second, not the bad, not even the good. In fact, the thought of him makes me gag and want to throw up. I am still angry, I’m so so angry, and I don’t ever want to let go of that anger, that rage. I’m even angry at myself, and I don’t want to let that go either. I don’t miss him, not in the least. I just miss finishing work and instantly knowing who to call to tell about my day.
Calling him isn’t it, not even the call itself.
I just miss knowing.
“I really miss you, come on, come back :( ”
He picked the worst possible time to do his PhD abroad, the absolute worst possible time, when the whole world seemed to be saying goodbye to me, nicely and not so nicely. It’s been two years already, well, almost two years, and he hasn’t come back, not even for a brief holiday. I can’t really blame him, he’s got commitments, but I miss him. On my down days, I’d miss how he’d wake me up at 8 am to go for 4 hour long walks. I miss how he showed me my favorite place in Cairo, or how we’d spend the whole day together just talking and talking and talking. I miss how he’d corner me into making a decision, he still does that on skype, but it just isn’t the same. But he’s coming back for a vacation finally! It will be a month that I plan not waste. But then he’ll travel again…
And I’ll miss him again.
It’s my favorite city in the whole wide world, always has been, and probably always will be. There is something about walking along that particular beach, looking at that particular part of the sea, getting lost, walking in the rain, sitting at that café, just being there that mends the heart. Everything fades away there, even the people. I think I might have been an Alexandrian in another life. How else could a place I see a few days a year mean that much to me, give me so much peace? I miss Alexandria. I will forever miss Alexandria… It’s where my heart belongs.
We sat around laughing at each other, making jokes, telling funny stories. It’s been so long, too long, since she smiled so much. Doesn’t she just have the most radiant smile in the world? It’s a smile you look at and you know that once upon a time this woman was in love, was alive, and was happy, but she’s not anymore. I hardly have any memories of us playing together when I was a child. The playing was my dad’s area of expertise; she had to be the bad guy. But when she smiles and when we laugh, I remember bits and pieces, not so many, nothing major, but I remember the amount of love that just flowed from her, and I remember her back when she was happy. I’d always feel a touch of sadness whenever I make her smile, because I know it wouldn’t last, and I know how much I’m going to miss the smiling version of her.
Up until lately, I’ve had an easy life, and considering all the help and support I get from friends and family, I can fairly say that I still have an easy life, thank God for that. But there were times when life was easier, clearer, when it made more sense and I had some idea of where I was going. I usually got there too, but it was never what I had expected when I did. The grass is never greener on the other side. That’s the thing; life changes, circumstances change, God knows how much I’ve changed. Do I miss it; the life I had once upon a time? Not really. Do I miss who I used to be, at a time when I didn’t even know how innocent I was? Sometimes. I just don’t miss who I was. I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned so far. Sometimes, I imagine if I were still the same person I was back then, but I’d always end up feeling incomplete. There are things I could have now that would only fit her, the ‘me’ from the past, and even though they would be nice to have now, I don’t really want them. I am who I am, and aren’t we the sum of our experiences? I’ll claim that I have been through a lot for a girl my age, and there are things I would take back, and there are other things I wish never have happened, but then I’d lose so much of me in the process, and I don’t want that. Dear 20 year old me, I miss you sometimes, but I’m glad you’re gone.
Image by Bishoy Beshara

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

15 Portraits of Despair–Number 14

This is an excerpt from “the sandman, endless nights” by neil gaiman

“She had waited until her husband and children were far away, and had driven into the snowy woods, and ended it. Just let it all go.

She had wanted the pain to stop. The heart-hurt. She slept her way into death, only waking when the Highway Patrol found her body.

She was cold, rigid, frozen, when they found her.

Someone like that, said the patrolwoman. You’d think she’d have everything to live for.

She tried to speak, to tell them that that was what made the pain unbearable but, like someone caught in a bad dream, she could not make herself heard. She screamed, and no sound came out. She watched as they took her body away.

She sat by the side of the road, in the snow, all bodiless and afraid, waiting for the happiness to start.”

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pygmalion’s Statue

He chiseled at me, piece by piece. Every day, he would come into my room, his workshop, and he would give me all his time, every single moment of it. I got his complete and utter attention. The day he made my eyes was the happiest day of my life. I could finally see him, my creator, my raison d’être, and he was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. He treated me delicately, brushing away any dust, paying attention to every detail, making me as perfect as could be. He chiseled at my hair, carved my body, my dress, my hands, every single digit of my fingers. I could see it in his eyes, his love, his devotion, all those hours he spent with me and only me. He loved me, more than anything in the world he loved me. He loved me ever since I was an idea in his head, an idea of unmatched beauty.

His caretaker came into my room every night when he was out relaxing at the pub. I wore him out, you see. She would clean the room, even dust me off sometimes. He never paid much attention to her, who would? She was a mess of a person. I wonder if all the living women looked like that; hairs tied in a bun and clothed in rags all the time, smelling of soap and garlic. If they were, it would explain why he would love me and only me. She would drop off his food in the middle of the day and he wouldn’t even turn to her, barely murmuring a thank you. Sometimes, she would bring him flowers with his food, a Jasmine or a Lily, He must love those. Before he made my eyes, another woman used to come in. she smelled of jasmine and lilies, the smell of the oils he used on me sometimes. He used to care for her, but I guess she had been no match for me after all. I was everything in his life, and she faded away.

One day, the caretaker woman came in to give him his food, and she called at him in a most irritating manner that he screamed at her, “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“That would mean I have to see you, and hear something other than your screams,” She replied.

Then she added, most insolently, that he was crazy to abandon the living for a statue. I could feel his anger, his hurt. He got rough with me that day, almost broke off a fold of my dress, but he finally gained control of his temper. That day, he kissed my hand before he went out, and from that day on, I kept wishing that he would do it again. I didn’t understand why he did not just let her go, that insolent girl.

That night, she came in to clean my room just as she always did. She was crying. He must have reprimanded her. Good! When she was done cleaning, she stood in front of me and stared at me. Such a pale creature, I never got to see her so closely before. She had such sadness in her eyes, it couldn’t have been just the reprimand, was my love violent? Did he hit her? No, it wasn’t that. The way she looked at me… she loved him! She was heartbroken, and she was jealous. Then her face changed and she picked up the chisel without taking her eyes off me. She screamed and screamed; angry, hurt, broken, and now she was going to break me. She was going to kill me, and he would die of grief. I could not not look at her, I could not not see the expression on her face, nor the look in her eyes. I wished I would see him one last time, but he was gone. The chisel flew at my hand, the one he kissed. The first thing she would destroy was the thing I cherished most. But the chisel never hit me!

A shattering sound came from behind me. She must have broken a window. She moved out of my sight, probably to clean it up. He mustn’t know of her attempt to destroy me, he would never forgive her. But she came back. She was holding what remained of a large mirror; a hundred pieces held together only by an ugly wooden frame. She put it right in front of me on the other side of the room. “Now he will see you shattered, just as he now sees me. He will see the cracks and creases. He will look at your perfection, then he will turn and see you as you should be, after time is done with you, broken!” and she left.

I had to stare at myself all night. I was turned into a monstrosity in that mirror, jagged pieces and rough edges. Even though I was still intact, it hurt to see myself like this, reduced to fragments. Was that really what I would become one day? No, he wouldn’t let me. But what if he dies? I mustn’t think about that. I stared at the reflections of my face. I really was quite beautiful, but then I never worked and I never cried. That caretaker would have looked a lot like me had she not been so careless with herself. If that swelling in her eyes went down, they would be a lot like mine. I don’t understand why she let herself become like that. What could possibly be so important as to let her forget to look beautiful? He would remove that mirror in the morning, and he would probably fire her, too.

What happened in the morning was not what I had expected. When Pygmalion came in and saw the mirror, it was as if he was struck by lightning. I wanted to scream at him that I was safe, that it was just a silly broken mirror. If only he would turn to me and see me intact, that would have made it all better. Instead, he sat down and cried, staring at the mirror, as if all that was left of me was that ugly reflection.

“Why did you leave me?” he sobbed.

“I didn’t, I am right here, just turn around”

“I swore I would always love you, and I never stopped. I was doing all this for you, slaving away at her, for you”

“What are you talking about? I love you, too. Who are you talking about?”

“She was my gift to you. The gift I swore I would give you. I promised you immortality, and you left me”

“I don’t understand, I am right here, my love”

“On our wedding night I promised I would love you forever, and that the whole world would wonder at your beauty. I promised that even though I would make a statue of you, it would still fade next to your glow”


“How could you say I didn’t love you anymore? Who was I doing all this for!” he screamed.


He sobbed all day and all night. The woman didn’t get him his food, nor did she call him. She didn’t come in to clean my room, I mean his workshop. The next morning he was asleep on the floor, crying in his sleep. Days and nights went by as I stood there gathering dust. He never touched me again, not with his hands, not with his lips, and not even with his chisel. He just cried in front of the broken mirror. It was never me he loved, it was always her. If he loved her so then why did he treat her so badly? Why did he show me all the love he should have shown her? Why did he kiss my idle hand while he could have kissed her hands that served him so well? I was nothing but an image of his love. I was just a statue. When my heart broke, it made a loud cracking sound that he never heard. It was broken so deep inside me that he never knew it was ever broken. Would he have cared if he knew? Probably not.

Ending 2

He never noticed when she slipped into the room. He didn’t move when she sat beside him, but he cried harder. The breeze that blew through the door had the scent of jasmine and lily spread across the room. He must have smelled it, that was why he cried harder. She took his hand in both of hers and kissed it, just as he had once kissed my hand.

“It was always just you,” he said quietly.

“I know,” she said, and ran her hand through his hair.

“Why did you leave me?”

“Because I love you”

“I was doing this all for you,” he looked at her in a way that made me realize that he never really loved me.

“I just wanted you back,” she smiled at him, and at that moment, I knew that I do fade next to her glow.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Faces & Sounds

I see you

I do

I see this face and I see that

I hear these words

I hear what’s in your heart

It is very loud

Did you know?

Each echo shrieks on its own

“trust me,” you say

“I love you,” you say

“we’re friends,” you say

“I am fake,” you also say but only I can hear

How do you live with a shattered soul?

How do you see, I wonder?

Does every face has its own set of eyes?

Do you have one set green and one set blue?

Do you know what you say deep down in what remains of your soul?

Pity, to be so old and so naïve, so evil and not even knowing

Do you recognize your own lies?

What rings true in that black heart of yours?

I hear you

I say all the right words and laugh at all the right parts

But I don’t lie

You are no friend

The world has enough poison for me

I have one face

One voice

One set of eyes

I know who I am

Your turn!


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