The Garden of Roses - Damascus
I love you, I do!
Bucharest. I wake up and walk half asleep to get a perfumed deep breath. I open the door. There it is, my rose. As soon as I stick my nose in it, the petals of the rose open as hundreds, and thousands, and centuries of years of stories. For now, let’s stick to the ones my Damascene Rose is whispering into ‘my ear′: stories of true love, life and heritage. Of loss and yet, having it all.
It was a beautiful calm evening in June. By now, the month of June had become a month of meaning and symbolism in her life.
She had just returned from Sicily. The rays of the Sicilian sun filled her heart with love and joy. The warmth and politeness of the people all along Taormina’s coast had melted away any traces of stress, worry and most importantly, heartache. The 'Bongiornooo!' of the hotel staff had caressed her with so gentle a tenderness and so deep and vivid a warmth that it transported her heart to the very place it started beating, Damascus, her hometown, the heart of her life.
Oh, Dimashq of the '80s...! That genuine and deep warmth that she couldn’t feel ever again since she settled with her family in Romania at the age of 9. The kind of warmth derived from the identity of the most ancient continuously inhabited capital of the world. For Damascus has never changed, irrespective of the historical turmoil that has befallen her.
The Sicilian sun had deployed her back home.
Mariam was preparing a cup of tea, green tea with a pinch of jasmine. She opened the tea jar while humming Brian Adam’s song ‘It was the summer of 69’ when her phone beeped. She sprinkled the tea into the teapot and grabbed her phone. And there it was. Another miracle already happening in June.
She couldn’t believe her eyes… Her mind started wandering, her heart beating faster and faster. She walked towards the living room and sat on the couch.
And she found herself sitting in the perfumed garden of roses of Al Jazeera 5, the 5th Island of Mashroo3 Dummar.
They were both in the garden, playing, surrounded by palm trees under the protection of the Damascene sun, just like in the old days. They chased cats and joyfully ran amidst the colorful and perfumed variety of roses - best friends and partners in crime!
“Marhaba, Um Fares! I have been waiting for Fares. We were supposed to meet downstairs to play with the cats.”
“Ahlan, ahlan. Come on in, Mariam! He is with Firas. Are you OK?”
"Yes, khale. I am fine. I am glad to see you. Where is he?"
“Hi, Fares! Why are you staring at me like that?”
“Your eyes… Who was it this time? ”
“C’ mon, C'mon, let’s go out. The strawberries are fully cropped. Let’s go!”
How can she be so full of energy and life with them being so mean to her? My God, she is so pure and innocent.
“Are you coming today?”
“I am right behind you. Now that we are out and about, are you going to tell me who has upset you this time?”
“Who do you think, smartie? All of them: Manhal, Rasha, Tarek, Dina, all of them. Why are they so mean to me? It just beats me.”
“You are exotic. Your mother is Romanian. They can’t understand you being different. They think you are Romanian.”
Actually, I think they are mean to you because you are so pure and beautiful. Gush, I love your sense of adventure.
Facebook - 18/06/2016 – 21:26
“Hi, Mariam! I was very glad to find your profile on FB. It was really great seeing you a successful career-oriented woman. I am very sorry for my childish behaviour 16 years ago. I have thought about you every now and then, and I have always wondered why I behaved the way I did. Please excuse me. I was very wrong! I wish you even more success in life and a lot of wonderful friends.
Enjoy being with your family.”
Facebook - 18/06/2015 – 21:43
INSERT CHILDHOOD PICTURE – PLAYING IN THE AL JAZEERA 5 GARDEN
"That’s you in the middle, right?"
Facebook - 20/06/2015 – 21:43
“Marhaba Fares! How are you? It is nice hearing from you after so long a period of time. How are Um Fares and Abu Fares? Are they in Damascus at present or abroad with you and your brother? My childhood friend, do you remember the garden celebrations we used to attend together and those sleighing hills? I remember wearing a pair of green pants…and those roses. I think we had an amazing childhood. Yes, I guess that’s me. Do you have other pictures, too? Our best wishes and regards to you and the entire family. You have a lovely weekend, Fares!”
Fares sends Mariam a photo of the two of them watching TV in the saloon.
“This is the only photo I found here… The rest are back home in Damascus.”
“Wow! This was our...my house, right?”
“Good old days… Nope.”
“Oh, yes. Yours?”
“This was my living room…we were watching TV."
“You are so right. Ours was different. You and I tossing around!”
“Yours was colorful.”
“Which colors? Do you remember?”
“Not really. I only remember spending Christmas time with you, the wonderful Christmas tree, the chocolate eggs, and the “cornulețe”.
“So you still remember our Romanian cornulețe, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. We had a wonderful childhood… Your parents, our parents are great people.”
“It feels like ages."
“And the du-te acasă yl3an abuki. Go home!"
“Oh, please stop. I am laughing my heart out.”
“That was your father screaming at Elizabeta, telling her to go home to sleep.”
“It is my beautiful childhood that has been the basis of everything I have created so far. She would remember that later. Elizabeta was very affected by him. What about your mom and dad? Are they still in Damascus?”
“The garden our parents used to take care of… My parents are in the States. Actually, they live in a small town close to my brother. They left 3 years ago. They came to Switzerland first, stayed with us and then left to the US."
“I have a ‘crush’ on roses… forever and ever.”
It's that place we call Home
“My aunt has been living in our house for some time now. We used to make jam out of those roses in our garden.”
“I can feel the taste of our childhood. Those days were awesome.”
“And your mom, she prepared delicious meals.”
“Fares how old are you?” Sorry… but I don’t remember. Yes, it is sad and terrifying what is happening there."
“I am 35 and you are 33.”
“I knew you were older, but couldn’t remember how much older.”
“How is Utsa? Uța Uța is Elizabeta, right?”
“Babusha, you mean? She’s good. She’s a dental technician, in a relationship, 31…”
“Please do send her greetings and to the entire family too. Did Victoria make her dream come true?”
“Which one of them?”
“Becoming a doctor? She was always studying… I gotta get my daughter Mary to bed. I am very glad we talked. Let’s keep in touch, old friend.”
“Yeap. She is a dentist. Married. Doesn’t have a Facebook account. Stopped working 3 years ago. Me too. Take care and kindest regards. By the way, your daughter… her eyes are very expressive.”
“She plays the ′construction worker.′ She always comes to the building sites with me.”
“So that’s what her father actually does?”
“I am an architect. She wants to destroy things, so she’s the opposite.”
“Lol. Gata? Is she off to bed?"
“How old were you when you left Dimahq?”
“I was 21. So it has been 14 years abroad. Now I gotta go, but it felt so good talking to you. Thank you and greet every person in your family. Bye for now and talk to you soon.”
“Keep in touch and nighty night @noapte bună!”
I guess this is it for tonight. I just can't believe he has gotten in touch with me after so many years. Miracles happen every day. After all, it is June.
21.06.2015 – 20:50
“Tell me, Mariam, did you live a long time in Damascus after moving out of the building in Mashroo3 Dummar or did you leave straight away to Romania? Was it hard for you going to school in Romania?”
“Hey, you! I am in the car. BRB. On my way home.”
“We lived for a while in Mashroo3 Dummar, then moved to the vila in The Vilas District. Afterward, we moved to Al Malki, and then to Bucharest. It was very difficult. In a way, I have never adapted. On the other hand, business-wise, I did. I have always missed the warmth of Damascus and of the Damascenes.”
It is this summer that Sicily has made me feel again the warmth, that warmth of people. Living here has been a challenge. I am quite sure it was the same for you, too. Did I see you before coming to Bucharest? I know we did visit you, at least we did once, yet I am not sure you were at home. And I must say that this is a very beautiful surprise for me, and I am glad we are talking to each other after so many years. You are present in almost all of my childhood pictures. I guess you are off to bed with your family. You have a nighty night and a good start to the week ahead.”
“Sorry for the delay. Was busy with my daughter… The picture is great. I love the food your mother prepares. I was so sad you moved away… You too. Thank you and best wishes.”
“No problem. I like the fact that you are dedicated to your daughter.”
“You look happy. That’s nice to see.”
“Yeah. I am. Thank you. It hasn’t been easy for me. At all. Among many adventures, I was married and after 2 years we got divorced. It was an international divorce, so pretty difficult. It was about time I got back to being me and even better. I have unlooked myself, eventually.
Nevertheless, it is interesting you remember my mom’s cooking."
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be. I am not. Just focus on me being very fine now… hi hi.”
“Men can behave like animals in some cases.”
This guy must have been deployed from another galaxy.
“LOL. Yes indeed. They are an interesting race.”
“You are a power girl. Whatever the reason for your happiness is… keep it that way. You shine while smiling.”
“Well, I am at peace with myself. That’s the main driver. It comes from within. Thank you, Fares."
Petal by petal,
She nourishes our path,
guiding us on this journey called Life,
For the love we have known
is one of a kind
Oh, Rose, we shall plant your seeds
wherever we go,
Just make sure you water our way...
... and she is in the heart of the Damascene Rose!
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-10)
Photos: Clip Art Queen & Pinterest