Water the way,
Jdo Al Midani is making his way ...
JDO Al Midani - The Passionate Grandpa
And so the story has it that Mohammad was born out of love.
His father had loved his mom deeply and very passionately. This had been conveyed to him too. It was enrooted in his genes. For his mom- a genuine Damascene, one of the warmest and merriest women alive, was a very loving mom. You see how important are our “mother” countries? They simply set the path of our genes, just like that. They write the course of our fate, the journey of our destiny, just like Damascus has for each and every single one of us.
And yet, as loving as he was, Mohammad did not resemble anyone. He was atypical, especially for a Damascene born and raised in the traditionalist neighborhood of Al Midan. And nothing has ever altered his being different.
Damascus - 1940, springtime
"Baba, the net of the namliye is broken. I think you should have somebody repair it," Najma informed her father.
"Don't worry about it, binti. I shall have it fixed at once, my dear daughter. We need that net so that the food does not damage,” her papa replied to her.
“Shukran, baba. You are kind!” Najma told her father and then proceeded to her room.
It was one of those days of springtime. The bright sun gently rendered its light on the abundance of jasmine in their beyt al 3arabi. As every traditional Arab house, theirs too was covered in the scent of jasmine, the perfume of the Damascene spring, the trademark of Damascus.
Years later he told Mariam: “How could I have forgotten you? You were as beautiful as Damascene Jasmine in spring.”
Salim was working in his workshop on the Straight Street. His neighbor craftsmen had dropped by to have a kkahwa with him. As they were chatting someone came to bring word that Abu Najma needed a net for their namliye and it needed fixing on that very fine day.
“Assalamu 3aleykon. ”
“Wa 3aleykon as salam wa ra7metu al Allahu wa barakatahu.”
“Please tell Abu Najma I will be at their house before the evening prayer – salat al 3assir. I finish the coffee and an urgent order we have received from Saudi Arabia and then I will gladly come. So no worries. Inshallah, we shall fix it today.”
“Inshallah. Ma3 Assalam, gentlemen. Good day.”
They bid each other good-bye. They were all descendants of the family. Najma happened to be his cousin. Of course, he had knowledge of her existence from a distance. He hadn’t seen her much. And besides, women would be all covered in the narrow streets of al Midan, at that time, with the mandil on their face so that nobody could see them except for their husbands and close family. So he didn’t know how his cousin actually looked like.
After a while, Salim goes to Abu Najma’s Arabic house to fix the namliye
“Ahlan wa sahlan Salim. Welcome!”
“Ahleeen, Abu Najma. How have you been?”
“All good. Alhamdulillah. It is nice to see you again after such a long time.”
“I would say the same. Especially since we are kindred,” Salim replied. “I have brought this net. It is of superior quality,” Salim went on.
“Please, take a seat”, Abu Najma invited Salim. “Let’s have coffee first and then you shall fix our namliye,” Abu Najma added.
“Najma will you prepare a coffee for our guest, habibti?” her father kindly asked her loudly enough for her to hear him, as she wasn’t in the same room with them.
“Akeed baba. Right away,” Najma answered and shyly proceeded to the kitchen and yet there was enough time for Salim to catch a glimpse of her face.
And he thinks to himself: Ya salam! God keep my mind safe. Lak look at her skin, so white and pure. I wonder how it feels, better than our silk for sure. I would tour all Damascus on foot just to see her face again.
As Najma brings her father and Salim their coffee, she leaves it on the traditional small table which lied between the two men.
“Tfaddalu. Enjoy your coffee”, she shyly says and retreats to her chamber.
“Shukran, Najma”, her father says.
“So how is business Salim”, he continues his word and sees the look on Salim’s face.
“It is good. Alhamdulillah. We have just received an order from Saudi Arabia. I was working on it before coming here. I am glad you sent word to me. I haven’t seen you in a while. How are you and your family”, Salim asked at his turn.
“We are all good too. We are enjoying the spring of our amazing city”, he added.
They go on chatting. As soon as they finish coffee, Salim says:
“I should have a look at this namliye now, with your permission. I have brought you one of my best nets.”
“Yes, of course. I will see you in. Please let me know if I can help you with anything,” Abu Najma went on.
“Here you are. Let’s have you fixed.”
While repairing the net of the namliye he just can’t think of anything else. Najma is all over his mind, his heart. She is all he can see. “Her hair should be black. I bet it is velvet-like,” he thinks to himself. She had her hair covered in a light hijab so he couldn’t see her. “Thank God I saw her face and those tiny delicate hands of hers.”
“Here you are, Abu Najma. The namliye is fixed,” he adds.
Abu Najma wants to pay, but Rayan refuses the payment despite Abu Najma’s insistence. He has a totally different scenario in mind. What a beauty, what a delight!
“Shukran for the warm welcome. It was a pleasure seeing you after so long a period of time,” Selim bid farewell to Abu Najma.
“The pleasure was all mine. Don’t be a stranger. Salamat to your family,” Abu Najma replied.
By God, this was love at first sight!
Salim’s mind was very busy. His body was there but his mind definitely wasn’t.
"We shall keep in touch, shan’t we?”
"Man if you only knew how soon I am coming your way. I am already on my way." And his brain started forging the plan of his life for the Najma of his dreams.
That very day the petal of love, at first sight, had touched his heart, making its every single valve beat faster and faster. Although he was married and had three kids: two boys and a girl, he didn’t have the woman of his dreams. For the mother of his children had been chosen for him, based on tradition as the customs of his time demanded. This time his heart was beating and boy, it was beating very fast.
Stay tuned to see how the story unfolds… Salim has fallen in love with Najma at first sight. He is bewildered by her beauty.
Photo Credit: Pinterest and The Capital of Jasmine
 Greeting in the Muslim countries “Peace be upon you. And upon you, peace, and God's mercy and prosperity."
 Najma in Arabic means star. She was the star of his dreams.