A Gob Of Spit

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Origingally Published in Rusted Radishes as A Prolonged Insult

By Youssef Rached Doughan

By Youssef Rached Doughan

“No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty … what you will. I am  going to sing for you, a little off key perhaps, but I will sing. I will sing while you croak, I will dance over your dirty corpse…” Herny Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Jamal waited in a café and sucked on his nth cigarette. He didn’t usually smoke more than three cigarettes a day, always after a meal, always systematically. His face was tired and bloated from an excursion down the ruins of a bottle of wine.

In the building across the street, two sisters released a barrage of vitriol from behind closed curtains. The familial screams echoed throughout the café, and the cat waiting on the café door was alarmed. It only took a minute for the gazing eyes to stop searching, for ears to habituate, and for the horny traffic to dilute the shouts.

Jamal lit another cigarette and scanned the surrounding. He was supposed to meet a former student of his, but the little rascal, he thought, was late, as always. The cigarette neared its end and he silently muttered, “I need a death. I need to write.” A small cockroach crawled out of the newly dug sewer; a domestic disturbance.

Last night the lady he took home told him that she wouldn’t sleep with him unless he shaved his beard. “Shave your beard,” she demanded, without even a shred of seduction. As an unadorned man, who grew a beard out of laziness, he indifferently obliged. He now smiled at the event. He looked down and grazed the shiny red and black tie he had worn; any other man, he thought, would have hesitated and deprived himself of the most beautiful moment he could experience. The girl he took home, she was still in his apartment. He kept her there. “I need a death,” he thought, “I need to write.” The cockroach crawled up the table and quickly crept along its surface, settling on the Jamal’s white paper. The cockroach stood still, giving its side to Jamal.

The little rascal finally arrived. Jamal licked his lower lip and grazed the bottom of his teeth with his rough tobacco-tinged tongue. His lips were hued with wine. The little kid sat in front of him, the cockroach still between them on the paper. Jamal did not move. The little kid did not move. Eyeballs were transfixed in a moment of stillness authored by the exoskeleton of the cockroach. A sudden mood overhauled the invading decadence of the city; the universe was reduced to this deuce-ace scene. A teenager, an adult, and a cockroach.

No more cigarettes. Jamal found himself to have crawled to the lowest form of beggary, in search of nothingness. Deepest abjection manifested itself in a still cockroach and a youth he wanted to kill. This youth, a former student, had come to give him praise. Praise the Lord, the encomium encounter was interrupted by an insect.

“Hello,” Jamal said, not allowing his eyes to deviate from the sacred arthropod, making it seem as if he had begun a conversation with the would-be carcass of reason.

The youth too did not allow his eyes to drift. He did not answer. There was no need to. He felt a tinge of shame at the way this event had begun. His spine tingled because of the transfixed gaze; all the different scenarios he had imagined of this encounter ran through his head, echoed through his ears, but he couldn’t close his eyes.

Last night, as Jamal and the lady slept naked next to each other, she’d come near him as if to kiss him, but she would only smell his after-shave. Her inspiration started at his chin and went up to his ear. And he’d felt a need to write, preceded by a need to experience death.

Last night, words did not matter as much as the thoughts that blew like fierce winds between the streets of Hamra, blowing curtains, exposing damp rooms with wet whores and angry sisters. The thoughts blew through Jamal’s head like savage and ferocious winds without enunciation. Or to put it differently: a wave of thoughts trapped him in its undertow; he found himself unable to speak, unable to distinguish his necessity to write from his necessity to break free from the inspiration of the lady next to him. His ear trembled and cold shivers travelled down the side of his body. He lay in paralysis until the morning when the wind calmed; the bottle of wine beckoned in the absence of a rooster; he wore his tie like a tight noose and went out the door to meet his former student.

“Hello,” this time he said it in his mind. And he imagined his student’s reply.

“Hi,” his student would smile, “it’s been a very long time,” his student would say.

“Yes, six years to be exact,” Jamal would say, “You were younger, I was still fresh.” But no, too bleak. “You were younger, we were both younger.” Realism invades the imagination.

“I’m really glad I’m meeting with you today, I have amazing news to tell,” his student would say, and Jamal’s desire to kill him would grow strong with such a gleeful remark of the obvious.

“I figured so, I’ve heard rumours,” Jamal would say, ruining his student’s surprisal, ruining the crescendo his student had engineered, taking into account the random variables of human action.

“Oh,” the surprise would turn on his student, but the smile would not vanish, it would only lessen. “Then I guess you know, this will be my last summer here,” the student would say with sudden recalcitrance.

Jamal would nod and force a smile.

“I want to express my infinite debt to you,” the student would academically exclaim, but Jamal’s face would shrivel as if faced with a sublimely appalling nightmare. And Jamal would wonder, What happened to him? How did it ever come to this?

“Please don’t say this,” Jamal’s face would metamorphose into that of a therapist threatened with a knife by his patient. The student’s face would also turn rough, waiting for his mentor to continue speaking, perhaps another lesson? But when do we ever learn?

“Don’t look up to me,” fear into the eyes of the therapist. “Just do not. You did not reach where you are by looking up to me, but by doing the complete opposite.” A lesson would formulate: “The problem with our generation was that we looked up to people, and after the people left us or betrayed us, we still followed with still-born idealisms. Don’t be inspired by people. Be inspired by events, by happenings, by acts and performances. Do not follow, participate. Do not stand on the corner and wait. That’s all they do here. They stand still in anticipation, waiting to be given, never giving, never initiating, always following. They wait and then—

Bang.

A waiter smashed the arthropod on the page; its limbs squashed resembling a gob of spit. It became formless on the page and its potential now became multiple: a spider, a cockroach, a caterpillar, a worm, goo…the mixture of all creation from which the universe takes its shape.

Jamal looked at his former student looking at him, realizing just now that they have not yet said a word to each other. He had lost track of time only to realize that now there was no time to lose. He saw the defilement he needed; the waiter granted him his desired death. He grabbed the white paper on which the formless death-rattle held the potential of a new idea, the mark of a painful birth, and went to the see the lady he left sleeping.

With trembling fingers his student turned the page.

by Alia Al Wahab

by Alia Al Wahab

 

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Slant

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He sits in his seat, the Indian food sitting wackily and heavily on the top of his stomach, the bladder inflated by the masala chai and the morning coffee still not out of his system. His anus is inflamed. This isn’t nervousness. This is hemorrhoids. This is the shit of past days catching up with him, this is the hours he spent ignoring his bowel movements and their discordance, preferring the stoned writing of books. He sits in his seat and he feels as if he shat himself, but it’s only the phantom limb feeling of a very real and present bruised anus. He closes his eyes. Bowel movements play the wonderful secrets of the body. In amazement he ponders the perplexing amount of time took human beings to dissect and find the wind instruments in our body. Latency of dissection as latent as a deferred shit.

The professor speaks. There is no causal relationship.

The professor speaks. His neck is red from the slim-fit shirt he has tied up to the last button, pressing on his neck which is inflated from a failing thyroid gland. The professor scans the room. There are no windows, only the eyes of the students staring back at him, or looking at coffee cups, open books and copybooks, only one pair of eyes is closed and they’re as good as a window. A professor who prefers to stare out of windows, or if he could, to close his own eyes.

In front of him, shoulder-length black hair adorning the forehead with bangs under which eyes flicker, not flirtatiously, but in a scanning blinking way. Outside, the night is spreading its sheets, but that doesn’t matter; a street light shines brightly. She thinks simultaneously of the before and after which encapsulate the class, and she doesn’t know if its guilt or excitement that is making her flicker.

Before: in bed with her lover whom she loves and loves to live with, and hold tight in chilly nights and share with him the heavy breath of night, fermenting in the air in the dark hours only to be brushed away at the sound of an alarm with a morning fuck and a dry-slowly-dampening kiss. And coffee. And tea. And morning breakfast and co-cooked dinners and films of the sleazy kind, the B-movie kind, the sci-fi, and the car crash-riddled action movies. And forgiveness and affection; and an identity dressing her body with the comfort of olive oil over water. But she blinks.

After: She’ll get on the subway, pretend to read as she ponders and imagines her the sound of her pointy knuckles on the door. Footsteps, soft slipper tapings respond to the knock, opening the door calmly, her hands flash out, extend not around the neck but around the hips, pushing the strangely familiar body back inside and unbuckling the high waist jeans, its color fading and resembling a blue-tinted snow-flaked TV screen. Her foot closes the door.

She blinks before her lover with which she tragically dramatizes her life and after the seasoned body with which she comically dramatizes her life. A tragicomic need for the legitimacy of intimacy by way of its very negation through an oedipal affair.

He doesn’t know shit. She sways to the serpentine song of infidelity. And neither is at fault.

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Despair or A Secret in Between

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A rattle of candy folding disturbed me from the noise coming from the street. She ate a Kellogg’s Special K bar, the aroma of cherry replaced that of the smoke in the room.

There is no need for names. I am me and she is you.

Let’s burn ourselves to see. We need a vision, even if surreal. Call it a fire or the delusional feel of divinity up our anus. Salmon-flow of the body. Shit up the stream. An ego’s love for control.

Let’s burn ourselves to see. Let’s sing in units of vocal range. Let’s fight in units of weight. We will overcome the purposeful myopia with our burning skin…it’ll be easy…it’s all downhill from here towards the bottom. Let us be like Van Gogh’s sun(flowers).

I turned off my cigarette in the face of Marilyn Monroe, an ashtray of plastic. The red light made the room look like a whore house, a Hamra brothel for lonely leftists. Adorned orphan of Palestine; the wrinkle-free map of meek Lebanon engulfed by Syria. She passed by. Slender. Cleopatra’s snake. Poisonous release, ancient medicine. The echo of pharmakon…and the agony of separating one from another.

Only a few days are left before I leave. There will be no electricity. Beirut will be blacked-out as the plane ascends. Even if in daylight. Beirut will be blacked-out without memory or secrets.

I follow her past the orphan of Palestine and the map of Lebanon. My shadow borders off the red light on the wall.

Vicious city. Sitt Al Dunya. Old mother with varicose veins, immobile. Old mother smoking nargileh, watching same-old plots on the newest smart, HD, 3D LED TVs. Old mother resting comfortably inside the empty graves of sons and daughters, sucking the flaccid dick of an impotent father, with or without a beard, sagging bull testicles, sweating – the closest thing we’ll ever see to his tearing eye. Old mother…

The sun shines in its full blaze and the flowers bend down, the rightful surrender to summer – the use of a season comes with no metaphors – summer comes after spring; summer comes before autumn; summer dries us up. Beirut I am leaving you and leaving a lot behind, and this too is my rightful surrender.

Six months ago, in Amsterdam, I got the word. Sub-zero temperatures and lots of tea and herbs – organic natural stuff, as they say. Five friends toasted to New York all night long while laughing uncontrollably at the flickering lights and music videos playing overhead. All the while I kept on thinking, with magnificent detail – it was the only way, to keep on thinking.

Caramel and Chocolate syrup melt over a vanilla sundae. Plastic spoon-full of sugar and a smile sparks on her face and mine. This is not gratitude, but love.

…and I’ll leave – I like to think there is a plan, but…

I’ll leave nothing behind – If I could, I would. And if I could, she would. There should be a plan, but it’s a step into the darkness.

Beirut, you’re uncovered. Everyone can see you naked, without the excitement of adventure. You offer me nothing. Your Zionist Caterpillars have spent all your secrets to rubble, and you opened the gates gladly. This step is one I take into a darkness which asks for proof of life every passing second. Every moment necessitates a pulse. There shall be life away from home.

New York! Another toast in Amsterdam. My arms were heavy, my body was tired, and I was laughing; yet I was thinking – for the first time I was as young as I felt. I read the acceptance letter out loud on an iPhone, the people around me cheering and laughing. I kept on thinking, and I felt. For most, this would have been a retreat; for most, this would be a pseudo-religious calling. Yet the news rang like the final period of immersion in life. There was no retreat in this for me. I laughed, I thought and I felt my body soaking in the tawny colour of this new sun, rising on this new horizon.

I will bring life back with me, but not for you Beirut; but for this new stage of time, new sands in the hourglass and chocolate and caramel syrup on top of a vanilla sundae; for new-old mattresses and books, beautiful writing and morning smiles, coffee and cornflakes, music genealogy and storytelling; for the people I love who have showed me how to live fully, and for whom I’d be Prometheus, Van Gogh, stealing the fire from the sun and handing it in a sunflower.

I lied next to her on the bed. The AC blew cold air on our feet, locked together, gray-blue pants over a white dress. Together, we imagined how my new life would be. Imagination’s stage leaned towards the comic, conjuring up a You’ve Got Mail city life: an affection to the past of books while running along the freight train lights of high speed internet, social networks and cloud systems. And a dog. It is not complicated. Simple, straightforward and made in Hollywood – together we ideated a condition for a peaceful return and a happy ending.

We can’t shut the hour glass. Beirut, time is not a highway. Your burning tires will not light you up, and it is not enough for us to tell you that we love you; it is not enough to be disappointed; it is not enough to be observant. The burden is upon us as much as it is upon you.

She left me in the room and sat alone, hiding in the swoon of red light. Perhaps she does this to tend to my heart, preparing it for the days to come. I followed her and we watched a film in our swoon.

This is definitely not a retreat in which I hide to retrieve what I think I had lost, but a new way of gaining from a profound yet mandatory loss. This is a new path forward in which I experience judgement, heaven and hell without dying. This is not a path paved by a kinetic emotion, such as desire – the need to possess – or loathing – the need to abandon; this is a path paved by despair, and for this I am assured, for I go with no desire – thus I cannot be satisfied – and with no loathing – thus I cannot abandon. My only worry is the consummation of my despair.

…And Beirut, you’ll still have her and many others. They are youthful and many and diverse. They can teach you as they have taught me. They can love you as they have loved me. And they will cry for you, Sit Al Dunya, when you bow down on your knees, close your eyes and surrender. Love them well and correctly. Make of them your secrets, upon which you will shine explosively like a star light-years away; a marvelous glow on the Mediterranean.  Love what I’m losing and you’ll be on my mind. Love what I’m losing and I’ll return as Prometheus, a Van Gogh sun, a perverted dance of sunflowers in the stillness of life; and beautiful Nero, a stirrer of culture and fire.

Before the credits rolled, I headed home, and on that ride, separately, we knew how my new life will be. Imagination’s stage leaned towards the existential-dramatic, conjuring up a No Exit hell of grim gridded-streets and Egyptian hot dog vendors, hearts held in hands and thumbs that forget to grasp; The fog covers the limewater in which she had baptized me. And the heart sinks invisibly into secrecy.

And that will be my secret. My secret held from New York and Beirut, from the living and the dead. Between the poison and the medicine, between two echoes, it sleeps comfortably impossibly.

Beirut,     Now is the winter of [y]our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of [New] York  

[Opening lines of Richard III, obviously modified]

‘My reason to write is to reach B./

‘That which would consummate despair [Le plus désespérant]: that B. loses in the end the thread of Ariadne which is—in the maze of her life—my love for her’ [Bataille Oeuvres Completes III 13-14]

Despair cannot be defined as a claim, hesitation, denial, or uncertainty. It is an abandonment, and a plea without conceivable destination; a desertification resulting from the catastrophic disappearance of the value of being. Despair is not humble, but hubristic, and it is not pious in the least, but tragic. [Nick Land. The Thirst for Annihilation.58]

وداعًا، وداعًا اخوتي الصغار
أنا راحلٌ وقلبي راجع مع دخان القطار [محمد الماغوط – “القتل”]

Thank you.

Isaac Israels “Woman before ‘Sunflowers’ by van Gogh” 1917

It

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“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Nietzsche

I never thought I’d be an inept Father. 

Regret by kristelven

 

I hit him today with a slapstick whip. Each hit echoes as the second wooden board comes crashing on the first. He made not a sound, not a whimper. He made them with enormous amounts of energy, I could see it in the way his muscles tightened and his eyes closed. 

I never thought I’d be like my Father. 

He’d look me down with an inspiring look of dread. You had to love that dreadful look. When you fear something so much, you respect it. With his belt, he’d spare me not, no matter how much I crawled away from him, no matter how much I rolled over like a deceasing body falling down a hill. With his hands, he’d try to rip me apart, starting from my ear, moving to my cheeks, to my stomach; he’d stretch my skin beyond any endurable measure. 

How did things end up this way? Is it my fault? He hit his son; I hit mine. 

My wife weeps after what happened tonight. She weeps the tears that my son cannot shed. As if it is she who I have hit. How could I have done this? 

This is your fault,” my conscience, a woman, speaks from within. “None but your own fault.” 

From the dark crevice of my mind, she speaks, even though it’s too late now. I remember the time when I hit that woman, when she was only a girl, hoping to grow up and blossom on her own, while enjoying the fruits of youth. I remember how I hit her and with that hit, I blew away her essence, pushed her down into oblivion, shoved her until she fell into the gap. 

Regret by virtud

 

..and now I jump after her. 

I remember when my father’s loud screams were contrasted by my mute rebellion. I remember when my father’s stinging hits were contrasted by my acceptance of them as if they were injections of a favoured drug. 

I remember when she extended her hand to me in the bright light of day, when everything was clear, but I, under the influence, rejected what could have been my way out. But I put her; I put myself somewhere I never really wanted to be in. 

My acts of rebellion were false, passive and uninspired. 

When you fear something so much, you teach yourself how to respect it. And when you respect it, you imitate it. And when you imitate it, you become it. I shoved her and pushed her, and I lost myself with every shove and push. She fell down the abyss and all this time, she has been buried deep. When you become it, you hardly know what’s good anymore. Your whole life becomes a swoon because of your failed revolution. You lose touch of everything that defined you, and submissively, you lose any shard of subjective individuality. You’re it. 

…and I became it. I became my Father. Like many people do become only an image of an authority figure. But no excuses. We’re all wrong. To feel alive, I act like it

My conscience, the sweet little girl who I have forsaken, tells me that it’s all my fault. “You gave him imaginary authority. You allowed him to do this to you. You have a responsibility to yourself, to me, which you forgot and left behind.” 

Tragic wakes. Who I was long ago is no different from what my son was. 

Was. Past tense. 

The slapstick whip is still in sight. My weeping wife is within hearing distance. With my other three senses, I smell my son who’s lying on the bed, motionless; I smell the odour of an empty clay jar; I taste… 

There’s no love in this. There is no love in fear. But he had no other way. Our whole life now will dance upon his act like corks upon the tides of grief. 

My son, lived like a martyr, died like suicide. 

Waning In My Own Light by SelfRecyclable

When The World Was Young

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I fell in a dream and hurt myself, but I did not wake. I lucidly dreamt for hours on end.

The good old times, when we were youthful, when the world was young and the sun was soft on our skin…

Ariadne approaches me with her solemn gaze and looks at my feet. Move, she tells me. From that one word I know that the time has come for a stern sequence of events to occur. Ariadne tells me that we can no longer do as we please. The journey which has always been a single step must finally end. Ariadne stops and turns her back on me. Grapes fall from the rough sky, roaring like timid tigers in front of a threat. Upon hitting the ground, the grapes turn to dry raisins. Ariadne goes away, taking silent steps into the past, into the time when we felt high in the deepest valley; she treads with embracing steps on dreams and memories of the time when the world was young.

Uncontrollable and volatile, random and wild, the once-untamed spirit now tells me to abandon all hope of defying the world around me with unpredictable footsteps. She walks away while battering a gong with her wooden hand. The sharp sound echoes throughout the landscape.

Cynthia comes driving through, the car disintegrating as gears change. Black smoke fumes from the exhaust. Beside her sits Braidy, her long hair disappearing under the seat. They come out of the car and their feet elongate as if they’ve just mounted their wooden stilt legs. They look towards the evening sky and tell me, the way is high, but your eyes have always been on the ground. They never look down, but keep on going higher and higher.  Their legs quake, but their tall bodies remain as steady as thick tree trunks effortlessly blocking the wind passing between two mountains. Ripe avocados rain and smash and splatter on the ground; a maestro mounts an imaginary helm and conducts a symphony. The girls sing to the tune, It’s time to get rid of interpretations and believe facts.

Chaotic and open-minded, once causing havoc and controversy with word-play and mind-boggling ambiguity, they now tell me to accept the facts I come across. Their legs shake as they are engrossed in the soils of time, digging deep into the time when the world was young. Suddenly the stilts fall and the two girls jump on hidden trapeze hung in the sky; arrogantly catching on to nothingness and aerially flipping around in perfect circles, a trapeze appearing wherever they want it to appear. The fascism of imagination controls my mind with imagined facts which can only exist if believed in. They wail and scream and giggle and titter high up in the sky. Imagination will not spare me.

Night-time sheaths the hot rays of the sun and veils the eyes with its humid arrival. Fallen leaves crack and break beneath the feet of someone approaching. I close my eyes trying to find a place to hide, yet promising myself a searing pain. Fear projects itself on eyelids as Selene, who I promised to sleep without closing my eyes. She looks at me with contempt for having broken my promise. You betrayed our beginning, she says. She shines a bright light and forces me to open my eyes again, only to see her in front of me, wearing a white glowing robe adorned with half-moons.

She takes out a large mirror effortlessly from her wooden chariot. Look, her voice commands. I look into the mirror but I see no eyes, no mouth, no nose; I see no face, but the back of my head, looking at the mirror which Selene holds, only to look at it again, and again, eternally and abysmally. You have fought monsters and now you become one like them. She places me in the dark abyss which language cannot describe, which my mind cannot ever reach its end. I keep on staring at the image of myself staring at the image of myself infinitely repeating. But in each repetition, the only difference is Selene’s eyes that slightly become jovial with every repetition. And now I know that they belong to the time when the world was young.

Ariadne stands in front of me with her wooden arm; Cynthia and Braidy with their wooden legs; Selene with her wooden chariot, raisins on the ground and split avocados on the ground. They smile at me, telling me to move on, to lose, accept the credo of death, to suspend growth, to stop development and continuously repeat everything over and over again. But I won’t let it drag me down.

What a time it was, when moments of joy ran through us like broken shards of glass, bleeding sweet ecstasy; when we chewed each other like boxes of chocolate and were never afraid to refuse a bitter piece; when delight was sustainable; when we’d hold on to each other in times of trouble like small children hanging on to their mothers. I won’t leave that.

The time when the world was young, when a mistake created a fun memory, and the spirit of lightness made us laugh at tragic plays and tragic wakes.

I wake. Hazel eyes look at me astounded. I never thought I’d see your face like it used to be, she tells me and pours me a glass of seasoned wine; I laugh.

Solidarity of a Broken Temple

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The music filled the humid air beneath us; sweat drizzled down our forehead itching our brows, but we didn’t care. We stood next to each other, building our temple, one brick at a time towards heaven. The sun glared as a foe in contempt; the ladders cracked beneath our feet like traitors; the water drops dried like unfaithful believers. But we persevered and kept on building.

Then a God stepped down from his divine throne as He felt a strange jab in his heart. The god sensed an uncanny threat from our strong solidarity. Could this be love? The God was unsettled by this relationship which did not include his divine presence. How can a relationship without God exist so smoothly without troubles? Thus did God say his word to break all words into multiples, to condemn all tongues with difference, and to differ all meaning infinitely. Voila, differance!

We were laying brick over brick, smiling incessantly and proudly, and not giving a divine damn. But all of that was broken when suddenly our mouths were of no use. The sounds we did immediately became foreign, and phonetically, we were strangers. Perplexed and astounded, I looked at the person next to me, the tongue made us complete strangers. Communication was suddenly broken and a schism occurred.

The God of the immutable order smiled.

I talked, but the other could not understand; the other misunderstood me as if a different structure had been encrypted in the fragile mind, and I the same. So we came down from the incomplete temple, not knowing what to say to each other, but with hearts filled with contempt. Even our eyes were mute. We suddenly became complete strangers, unable to look at each other in an understanding look of regret.

Autumn came and autumn was all around and so were clear skies and afternoons. But we became more distant as the silence between us grew. And cold silence stayed true to its purpose: it atrophied any sense of compassion between us.

Every hour became still; every hour was the hour of departure.

But sometimes, I would remember good bright days. Remembrance would be a sort of meeting, and I would remember every detail, every joke and every lesson; every word and every sigh; every sorrow and every joy. Yet on the penultimate point, I would also remember the moment when the schism happened; when my tongue strayed to the right without reaching a common point of understanding. Different tongues, different languages gave us different common sense. Different common sense gave us different perspectives, and different perspectives gave us different realities.

At that point, forgetfulness acted as a form of freedom, and every unintended memory was bitter, even if it was the sweetest.

So I pleaded to the divine god who set us upon our fate: “Merciful as thou art, let me die at the right time. The right time, be it now, for I have lived at the right time, found happiness and joy, but now, the time is the time to die.”

And as the God heard my calling, he gladly heeded my call for help. My god felt needed and aptly responded in kind.

In the final hour, I went to my old friend, looked in the eyes facing me and saw that the eyes were too cruel for me to look at. Suddenly, our incomplete tower toppled over and everything in front of us was covered topsy-turvy with dust. When the dust cleared, I looked at my old friend and finally, we understood each other’s gazes. The gazes uttered a truth which can only be spoken in the silence which belongs to the ambiguity of existence:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory will swell when again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

We relished the mutual silent understanding and defeated cold silence.

Finally. Welcome Little Death.

Victims of the Immutable Order: A Testimony

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I wonder what she’s doing right now. I wonder where she is.

In that home which trenches itself in the ground facing wide and long fields of wheat, bordered with cypress trees, lilies, but…

I’ve been counting the years and the months and the days. It’s an obsession. Three years, one month and fourteen days. I dream of myself walking up an arid hill, walking towards a door seen at the top of the hill. Every day makes it steeper.

She hates me.

…I told them everything, but they couldn’t understand anything. I faltered when I shouldn’t have. I gave in to reason. But there wasn’t any time for me to make things right. The absence of any kind of certainty made me a basket case of doubt. But that was in the past. Now she’s gone.

She went before. She’s gone again. Indefinitely. It was an immutable order which she found a way out of, only to be dragged back in, slamming her head on the crux of its foundation: family. She took a bad hit. Fatally, she bled.

Faint by precision, but strong by imagination. The memory of the best first night ever. The memory which I always add to by use of imagination. Sometimes I wonder if anything we remember is not just a simple fantasy. Every time I reach the same conclusion: we are the plaything of memory.

The worst last night ever. She looked at me with eyes beyond the threshold of despair; beyond patience and perseverance. She looked at me with eyes too shocked to be disappointed. Her lower lip wibbled as it did many times before, but this time she could not restrain the storm of incessant wailing. She was taken.

I know why she doesn’t call. I know why she no longer talks to me. She definitely hates me.

If only I could: squeeze her hand; whisper in her ear; look into her crystal blue eye; look at her; count the freckles on her face; feel the pulse on her wrist; hold her close; relish the mundane with her.

If only I could take back a mere hour of my life to give years for hers.

The best first night ever. After weeks of wanting to be a stranger, she was my opportunity. After years of being trampled over, I was her opportunity. We immediately exchanged hearts and permitted the other to dance and sleep with it. Purge me and read me. And so we did. And my heart read aloud, I am. Her heart screamed, thank you for not stomping over me.

We cleansed each other, naked, beneath the shower head, inside the bath. We were like leeches stuck on each other, forming a closed circuit; she sucked so I could feed. The water was hot and the humid air cooled our hearts down as we sucked each other dry.

Nostalgia gives birth to regret and remorse.

She hates me. I sold her out because I thought I would be helping her. I listened to all the others who had failed her before. The evil sly roué who told me to open my eyes and then forced me to see things through his eye; the pernicious viper who silenced me and spoke and told me to listen to her voice. I listened and I saw, but it was trickery. And I failed her. I let them take me away.

I cannot be sorry. Everything has bled into this; the borders of blame are all mixed up. But she is the angel that fell.

The best first night ever. We walked through darkened streets and alleys until the early hours of the morning. We drank energy drinks mixed with vodka. We sat on long winding stairs and watched couples trying to be intimate under the eye of the public cats and bats. And we tried it too. We were not afraid. We did not care. Intimacy empties a crowded room when it’s real. No one matters. We believed in love. I don’t anymore because I don’t believe in myself, but for a period of time, love was the answer. We readily tried to understand each other. We shared Frankfurtian views and loved our music. We enjoyed charades and paraded our skills on the street. We loved each other the way we like to be loved.

The street is the home for youths in love, where lovers grow, become sick and die. The rare public benches act as couches. The people eating inside restaurants act as pay-per-view TV programs. The stray cats as pets. The shitting pigeons, the church bells, the propagated prayer as annoying reminders of what awaits when we go back in.

But to survive on the streets, you have to make a promise of loyalty, a vow of devotion. And the promise you take until the end of you; a promise which I broke; a promise which she kept.

…and the skies turned grey.

The door at the top of the hill will never be open. What lies on the other side is imagination. My climb up the hill is an inevitably destructive fantasy. We’re still the same, inventing myths to feed our limited humanity: I can’t bring her back.

I wish I can wonder what she’s doing; I wish I can wonder where she is. But I can’t because she’s not here. She is not. I am, but it is not my heart which proclaims it. I have become defined by her absence.

Credence To a Devil’s Promise

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I’m in a private hell.

I call it the cave. Many people call it the cave. But it’s never the same place. The only common factor between all caves is the characteristic of solitude. But there’s always a devil waiting outside, wanting to come in, waiting for me to slip and come out. Temptation outside the sanctuary where I retreat to let many thoughts play out; to let many ideas battle each other, allowing possibilities to cancel each other out, so that by the end, when it’s safe to come out, I’d have a clearer vision of my reality.

I relish that moment of comfort when I come out.

But there’s a devil outside, waiting.

I create my own misery, and excuses are defence mechanisms which rid me of the clear insight: I am responsible for myself.

How I wish the eternal can truly be the momentary.

The first beginning broke its promise. I was promised nonexistence, but abortion was aborted and I came out, disappointed. Ever since, I’ve been trying to make amends, as if it was I who broke the promise. The years went by, and the play developed; the theatre at home became more complex, but it always centred on the same fights.

When you meet your maker, your only obligation is to make him cry, simply because he offends you by trying to claim that he knows what he has created.

By the end of every act, I was expected to retrieve and extract the moral of the drama. The moral is yet to be extracted. With each act, alienation increased, and the only truth I knew was that I wasn’t supposed to be. So I rid myself of experience and life and strove towards intentional unhappiness, disappointment and loneliness. I dented my mind awkwardly.

The unlived past is my psychological burden. I always try to dance with what might have been while everything good passes me by. An unfulfilled past haunts me and every beginning breaks its promise.

So I invite clandestine characters into the play of my life. Secret acts are played behind the scenes with actresses of different kinds. Soon enough, I realize that I need them, each and every one of them; this realization strikes me like a cancerous imperfection: dependency and necessity.

Truth, unless I find it, is not truth. Find a voice. The voice tells me what I long for. “Ahlan” and women crying from the impeding great doom. What could I possibly long for?

Home. Family. A pillow and a good night’s sleep. The actresses would promise me that. But every beginning breaks its promise, and I’ll die in dark corner after experiencing the most agonizing breath possible. My actresses love so that they can be loved, but I’ll die in a corner distant from their eye. My inner acolyte will be disappointed. My inner acolyte told me to follow, but I did not listen when it mattered.

Take me to the place where you go. Take the look off my face. Don’t go away. I need more time. Say what you want to say. But don’t go away. Take me away. Crazy days make me shine. A little bit of craziness, a little bit of eccentricity is all for the good. Allow me to jump before I think. It will be a constant, inexhaustible, unfathomable adventure. But I’ll try my best.

Love is the law. Love under will. And there is no law beyond do what thou wilt. But my inner acolyte leaves. Every one leaves. An unfulfilled past haunts me and now I fear the tomorrow. I destroy my today. Am I to blame? Is what I’m feeling inside guilt?

Everything arising from guilt becomes a duty. But the important thing to remember is that guilt can only come from memory, a product of the past. That said, it is clear enough to say that everything arising from guilt is a reaction produced by the unfulfilled past. It’s hard to start acting again.

I create my own misery. There are no more excuses. Compromise is ugly. All this could have been solved by living up to the promise. All this could have been avoided with abortion. One broken promise can alter a whole life. Do I deserve this wanton life? Question the equation.

The devil outside is waiting. The devil who wants to tear me with its mammonic claws. The devil who does not ask questions. The devil with no predetermined answers; just a desire to rip me apart and tear me asunder. A devil doing its job perfectly. A devil who would have probably been a better master. The devil would not have acted. The devil would have told me to forget about nouns. “Take love only as a verb,” he’d tell me. And perhaps, if I had embraced the devil I would have lived.  But I’m coming out of the cave this time without a thought. The devil can tear me with its claws. Nothing will come out. The devil will always be responsible for the end; credence to the devil’s word. I’m coming out as light as a white cloud above a field of wheat. I am empty. Perhaps the devil will fulfil my past and rid me of a tomorrow and give me the paradox of finding eternity in a moment. I am ready.

“Ahlan,” says the devil, and I hear a mother and actresses crying when they see my doom.

In Memoriam

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We are the plaything of memory.

My memory is a masquerade of historicism; A façade which designs events with superfluous lavish words and a timeline as intermitted as loving relationships. A simple subject-verb-object would do most of the times, but with ignorant use I sprinkle adjectives and adverbs to make my memory seem as unrealistic as a teenager’s wet dream.

I am the truth.

A voice, rough and screechy.

I am the truth.

I am emptied. I am darkness. In Memoriam and any sense of Self is gone.

Ahlan. The voice, from a past, a memory. Ahlan. The voice, the orator of departure. I am the Truth. The truth is in the past. The past is in the darkness. The darkness reduces me to oneness, and I am timeless and formless. I am nameless.

In one sweet moment you’ll be home. Just come give me a kiss.

That voice, from my past, my memory. Mammon.

Precious.

My old way. The low way. It is the only truth I have known. Should I cross the line?

Cross! Transgress! Break the Limit!

I am as good as dead. The orator of departure lures me. Why has he come?

I am the Truth, the only Truth in darkness.

My voice, in the present. An event. And I depart.

But I go round and round and Mammon laughs. My old ways are circular. And he speaks as he gives me a lecherous kiss.

I am the orator of departure, and I speak only of departure. So excuse my sudden departure, but it comes at a right time. Listen to the world shouting. A cacophony of angry voices, driven by a demonic will-to-power. Each culture, each nation, each country, each city, each individual is trying to give meaning to the world, and these meanings fight each other, producing that ever defining, albeit negative, factor: difference. But is there meaning? Is there purpose?

Forgive me for always surprising you. I just did not feel obliged to work according to your structured meta-narrative of how I should be, and in the case of surprises, of how I shouldn’t be. Your knowledge of me does not create me. I am my own creator. I jump off the peak instead of trotting miserably down the mountainside. I bend my knees and embrace freefall. In mid-air you never miss the ground. I surprised you while tried to wake you up. The awakening needs violence because you are stubborn, and you stubbornly stood in front of me whenever you felt lacking. You handcuffed your own hands and boiled your mind so that nothing could have touched it without experiencing your hotheadedness. You met me with ready-made attitudes. I stood like a riddle already cracked before I spoke. Ever since, you have filtered my words according to the algorithm which you think can decipher me; as you did so, you only saw the pre-conceived image you had of me, the dead portrait hung in your museum, without a voice. You felt superior as you stared at me, as if my existence was contingent with your pleased eye; as if I was only for you and because of you. So excuse me for suddenly departing. I had to before I became cemented as the prototype you think I am and make me to be.

The world was once a curious little thing. At some odd point, the questions of curiosity became a quest of passion, and the world personified stood in front of me as a silent person, yet telling me, confirming that it was a person I desired. On this quest I realized that the world personified (for clarity, a she) is a shore never to be known, an abyss never to end. But at the same time I felt Vertigo, a fear of falling coupled with a strange desire. I could never tell if I’d fall away from me.

But let her forgive my departure. She gave me no truth and I could not trust her as she suddenly proclaimed interest then took it away. I loved her. Let her forgive my departure. She wanted me only because I hated to let her down; but I needed someone to fight for me, to bolster my existence and respect my mind. She saw what she wanted to see, she loved what she wanted to love, but she never really saw or loved the rest of me. I love the world, but the hurt turned to hatred and when she took a wrong turn around the sun, I had to depart.

You have to depart. I only talk from your memory. I am part of you.

Texts have connections to the physical realm; Maybe forgetfulness should be an adaptive measure for preventing pain. But who said that evolution is something other than mere useless mutation.

We are the plaything of memory. Without memory there would be no guilt. Any act arising out of guilt becomes a duty. A deontological presence lacks passion. Mammon gives me a lecherous kiss again and holds me dearly. The gates of my hellish past open and welcome me with their bright orange light. But I see Nyx. She is terror made flesh: sublime and ethereal. She stands like a mother standing above her child’s cradle and looks at me with ostensible love.

I am the plaything of memory. And I am the architect which builds on it and designs it. But for now let me go to Nyx who can give me a dream independent of my reality, a dream of her own words, a fantasy of her own mind, a trace of darkness from her memories. A dream which permits me to be without being in the world.

Mammon departs. the truth is that there is no Truth, but there is a way forward; I am not stuck in the same circle.

Memory & Forgetfulness

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Departure:

I have my bag packed. I can hear the shower water pouring, accumulating in the bath tub. I look at the empty apartment. The vacant couch, the piles of books towering half way to the ceiling, the temple of CDs and DVDs. These objects don’t make me want to remember the past week. These objects are not laden with the traffic of memories. They hold nothing. They are just a bundle without a substance.

The sound of pouring water stops. I know I cannot leave without saying goodbye to the only person I’ve seen for a week. I wait for her to come out but she never does, as if she paused time when she closed the faucet. As I stand outside the bathroom door, for the first time in a week I feel like a stranger in this apartment, in her home. It is not a place I belong to. I entered this place so full of hope. I thought that the road had finally gotten me home after prolonged seasons of winter in which nature was painted with different shades of the dullest grey. But it was a spark of euphoria; now time has halted for me to make the decision, to choose if I want to step back onto that ragged stale road of constant wandering; that road of loss and confusion; that road without identity which I loathe.

The silence in the bathroom becomes the silence of still-time, and I become afraid of her stillness; deathlike silence reigns. The knob does not screech as I turn it. The door does not squeak as I open it.

Vapour. Haze.  Steam rises from the hot water in the bathtub and sheathes the mirrors and the walls with blurry droplets. I do not enter, but I can see her lying, floating on the surface of the water in the bathtub. Her body is still and her breasts emerge like waves caught in a photograph. Her hair sticks to her body like leeches sucking off the rotten blood flowing in her veins. But she’d have to be drained completely if she hopes of being toxin-free, to be saved. Her eyes are closed, giving her the solemn image of a statue, battling time and winning eternity.

The still thought-image which she projects forces me to put down my bag and go to her. I walk into the sauna-like bathroom. Time is still paused; my moving body collides with the droplets. It seems as though I have dug my way with perseverance to get to her sober statue. I raise her head with my hand and I remove the leeches off of her body. She opens her eyes and I remember one week ago, the abominations we committed to fuel the fiery desire we shared for each other. I see the beginning through her eyes, and I sense no regret. Her wide black eyes give me comfort in their serene depths. I feel like a key that has found its door, a narrator that has found his voice. It’s all in the depth of her eyes in which I drown, and while drowning in her eyes she speaks to me; she tells me all I need to know, and I see all I need to see: moments not intended for me.

I stand up and leave her still body. I leave her as a still-image imprinted in my mind. A memory seeking continuity, an image seeking movement.

***

Return

Returning from a long absence, this alien world feels like a museum. I walk with fearful eyes through its halls and I stare at the portraits which look very familiar. It is the familiarity which frightens me. I left a vibrant city and have now returned to an unchanged city, a city of the dead, and I search for her, the one who I intentionally left as a still-image. I return to give her continuity and movement.

I make my way through the proverbial streets. People dress the same; people act the same, as if they had no tomorrow. The daunting reality of sameness wraps itself around me. My wandering is transformed into a fall. A heaviness pushes me down, but I persevere and channel my way through the immutable roads of this city. This is no labyrinth. I know where she is.

I revisit the image in my mind. I see her in the bathtub, her hair like leeches. I remove the leeches and graze my fingers on her flesh as if my fingers were magic limbs which close lacerations. Her breasts stand like still waves splashing on a shore. I let my hands surf on the waves and they reach the shore, the rough rug of sand which was my home.

I find myself at the door of her apartment.

I knock and the door opens. It does not screech. I step inside, the water is pouring down. Steam comes out of the bathroom and my desire is indelible. Relaxed, I step in the bathroom. I see her through the semi-transparent wall of steam, sitting in the bathtub, her head between her legs, and her arms trying to wrap themselves around her; she is in front of me now as she was when I left.

The water stops flowing; a bell tolls and time stops. Nothing moves anymore. The past is fixed and I find myself trapped in what my memory wants me to see. I find myself trapped in the past.

I left her as an image so that she could persist in my memory. When I left, I killed her. I froze her in time and did not allow her to move on, and now I’m faced with the conundrum of memory and forgetfulness. If I allow forgetfulness to creep through, I will seize to know her; she would become someone different; she would become a stranger. If I allow memory to persist, she’ll be unreal and as dead as a monument, as dead as the city which I have passed through.

I try to step forward. I cannot.

I try to back away. I cannot.

A decision has to be made. To forget and lose all, or to remember and wallow in decayed grave.

The distance between me and her hurts me, but I cannot stop staring. I have no idea how she’ll feel if I allow myself a tinge of forgetfulness. I have no idea how this still-image would move. Will she laugh and break the heaviness of my absence? Or will she move around in circles like a prey around its predator, examining and waiting to strike with guilt.

The answer is within reach and it’s a choice I’ve made a long time ago, before I left, when she whispered in my ear. She told me about a moment not intended for me, a moment not in my memory, a moment I am promised to witness upon my return.

The still image changes. She changes; her eyes brighten up; she shines and she looks at me. These eyes, they utter the truth in silence; art knows more than the mind can ever know for truth is found in the hidden places which art draws. The silent moving-image speaks: It is not okay to remember the way you did. I am alive. You left me with emptiness which did not allow me to laugh. The theatre of absence leaves us all wondering about our failing existence. You isolated me like a single frame of a long film. Your froze me in time and did not allow me to grow. And you thought you knew me. You left me without laughter and melancholy camped over me, and this city drained me with its stillness which you incurred.

I blush. I’m out of words.  She frightens me with her sudden strength, her sudden life, her sudden sublime beauty. Such beauty can only be reciprocated by a miracle which I cannot give. That moment which was not intended for me; her movement after stillness was that of a strike of guilt. I have returned to a city of the dead, but I do not know her anymore. She has changed. I never knew her. I have changed.

I turn my back on her and on the distance, hoping that the other end is closer.

My travelling lost me my only home.