Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I used to love Christmas when I was a little girl. I loved helping my mother decorate the tree and I enjoyed waking up on the morning of Christmas to find gift boxes under the tree. I believed that Santa Claus existed and I would try my best to stay up as late as possible to intercept him. But I couldn't. Those were the days when I was young and had a healthier sleep pattern.

This year my mother asked me to put up the tree - something which I had little interest in doing. But she said she was tired and had been complaining of backaches. What is a good daughter that doesn't do her mother this favor?

So, despite my lack of enthusiasm, for the first time in nearly a decade, I decorated the tree. I spent a whole evening and a few hours the next morning trying to create the perfect Christmas tree.

But meanwhile, it occurred to me that I felt quite uneasy about December, about Christmas, about the red and green and gold, about fairies and angels and dwarfs, about church bells and Christmas carols, about the lights and contrived festive atmosphere, the gifts and the food, the laughter and the noise.

Have I become a bit like Scrooge?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dad this is the song you used to sing for us in the mornings when we were kids. I loved waking up to your gentle voice. I miss you, always...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I recently caught up with an old friend of mine from school and neighbor from the old building where we lived. I remember she was my main competition in our English Literature class and we were always trying to score points with our teacher. But we were also good friends but cautiously so, in the belief that it was best to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

It had been some time so we proceeded to recall the good old days and what books we were currently reading. We moved from one book to another author and then to another poet and then to our vast and rich heritage of Arabic literature that we vowed to (re)discover and in depth. A must. And then we were back to our dear William Shakespeare. We began to exhibit our prowess in how much of Shakespearean literature we knew by heart. And I remembered...

...the first time I decided that I wanted to fall in love with Shakespeare. It was after I'd watched Marianne (played by Kate Winslet) in a scene from Sense and Sensibility recite the following stanzas from Shakespeare's Sonnet 116:

Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds, / Or bends with the remover to remove: / O no! it is an ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

I don't think that at fourteen I really understood the significance of such a sonnet or the rest of his sonnets for that matter. But I was smitten and so it was the first sonnet that I'd decided to memorize; after I finished the film, I went into my room and repeated the sonnet until I could recite it by heart.

As I watch this scene again, I am taken back to that evening. How time flies. It feels like yesterday although a decade and a half has passed. I think I do understand the sonnet better today than I did then. And the scene too. How in the pursuit of love Marianne was convinced that it was (the unkind) Mr. Willloughby for whom she had traveled very far and with whom her happiness rested when all along her happiness was with the honest and loving Colonel Christopher Brandon. It was only a matter of time before she'd realized it - and she was fortunate he was still there to have her. Life is funny like that.

Sleep is a reconciling,
A rest that Peace begets.
Doth not the sun rise smiling
When fair at e'en he sets
Rest you then, rest, sad eyes,
Melt not in weeping
While she lies sleeping,
Softly, softly, now softly lies sleeping.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

This weekend between morning walks and early dinners, I talked to him about home. He told me that he was able to adapt anywhere and everywhere but that he longed to return to the one and only home, to where his mother lives, to where his ancestors came from, to the land, to the Watan. And his words reminded me of my father because this is what he has always taught us. To long for and belong to the land.

I struggle heavily with the notion of home. And I shall not pretend otherwise. There are times when I feel like a flower in a garden, only I am bending in the other direction. A friend of mine studying psychology once told me that we are forever stuck in our childhoods. I don't know who said it or if it applies to everybody but sometimes it does to me. I sometimes think I am still that little girl in the Watan I once knew in my childhood - it is now but a memory. My father used to always say that the Watan for him was this triad of the land, the wife, and the family.

I am all by myself aimlessly wandering around this large mall and I look around me and observe the Britons and foreigners that surround me, and I wonder if they, like my father, know very well the word Watan...