May I lean on you?
Oh, water me with a stroke of faith, of courage. Now!
I am so frightened, rose.
I am stuck in my shell… I need a harder one. My nails are broken. They, too, have abandoned me. What colour will I kindly ask her to apply when there is no base? My God, even my nails have forsaken me.
Will anybody protect me? Take care of me? Support me? Stop telling me to take care of myself… I can’t do it anymore. Why on earth would you tell someone to take care of themselves?
Will You be there for me? I just dream of You. Hence I envisage you in so many various and colorful ways.
Golpe. Tacon. Embrace and imagine your love. Exhale passion.
Oh, I would kick your ass. I would!
I guess I have always felt you were there. Yes. I have felt your presence. But had no clue this was to happen. How could I have dared to imagine such an encounter? You say there is a wall? Which wall?
“I am on the other side of the wall. I have always been. And always will.”
Helloooo! Can you hear me? I feel you there. My soul has been wandering out and about, relentlessly. I am looking for my shell.
I adore you, my dear sea. Will you see to it so that I may find my shell? It’s seven years, already. I have been wandering, desperately. My heart has burnt and spent years in Dante’s Purgatory. It inflamed me so - I had to revive from my own ashes. Oh, where are you, you wicked? You are so close to me that I can feel your breath. Your vibrations I sense and rest assured you are close. So close that in no time, we shall have met.
“How fast will my heart beat?”
“What if you don’t like me?”
“Oh boy, what if You don’t like me? Why so much fuss and stress about it? Just be yourself and the rest will follow.”
“ I love you, I do. “
“My dear Sea, have you seen my shell? You know me. Me and you, we are connected. I have been dancing el flamenco with your waves for years now…”
“Yes, I am connected to you. I feel your happiness, your anxieties. Moreover, I can sense your fear. The distance between our walls should be about 31 cm. Not more than that… You have been patient. It won’t be long before you are gone.”
“Do you think we will always be like this? As in me here, and you, on the other side? I have told you I have bonded with this guy…”
“Yes, indeed. He seems to have rung all of your bells ON.”
“Will you come to my wedding?”
“I don’t think so.”
He wrote on her wall
“So you took a picture of your childhood when you went to Switzerland?”
“I am happy to hear that … I took our picture. How is your Papi?”
“Baba is good. He sends you and your entire family his warmest and best regards. And Leticiaaaaaaaaa - as he used to call her - and we are taking very good care of him. I am glad you did… I am so glad you took a picture of us, of our beautiful childhood!”
“I am sorry for papa… I wish him good times and he shouldn’t worry, he is in good hands.”
“Don’t be. That’s his destiny… And ours with him. Our dear Damascene gentleman.”
“So you went to school in Bucharest? It must have been really hard.”
“Yes, it was.”
“Learning to write in Romanian.”
“Writing the other way round, having to read books in Romanian, grammar and all.”
“We have thought of the same thing at the same time. Lol. What is your sign?”
“Libra. What about you?”
“My sign you mean?”
“I like this name. I used to visit one fine restaurant in Damascus just because it had that name … and the beer… and good food.”
“Did we ever go there together?”
“I don’t think so.”
“We went to Mushroom Dummar. Sorry! Lol. Mashroo3 Dummar.”
“I remember visiting you in Al Malki. The rooms were so big and empty. Like really stylish.”
“I don’t remember that at all. This is before I left Damascus?”
“Very big beds – 2x2m.”
“I think that time you were not there. Only Vanessa.”
“You came to Julieta’s wedding I guess”.
“OK, I played with Vanessa in Al Malki house.”
“Good for you I was ‘left’ in Bucharest.”
“The last time we met was different. I was a little crazy. Poor you. Why did they leave you there?”
“You were a teenager and … age syndrome and I will stop here. Well, baba called mom and informed her that Julieta was to be married in one week's time. As you know, she didn’t want to come to Bucharest, because she was wearing the veil. She was afraid of not being able to adapt to Romania.”
“I am sorry.”
“Mom was like her daughter was getting married and had to be in Damascus within one week and of course, she took the apple of her eye with her. Plus finances… Vanessa wouldn’t stay in Romania without mom. It was something like that.”
“I want you to know that I got your letter…”
“Which letter? OMG. What are you talking about?”
“And I was very ashamed that I couldn’t answer.”
“Fares will you help me refresh my memory? What letter?”
“You sent me a letter 16 years ago.”
“Where was I? In Bucharest?”
“After meeting you in Damascus?”
“You were angry and had every right to be so.”
“Did I write it in English?”
“What did I say in a nutshell? I really don’t remember.”
“I never forget it. I am now answering. And I was a jerk. I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.”
“We are good, man.”
“But my feelings weren’t totally wrong.”
“Many years have passed. Circumstances have changed.”
“A big half of me was so glad to see you again… the other was exploring life. O.K. I spoke it up.”
“I am very glad you are telling me what’s on your mind.”
“You asked for it, 16 years ago.”
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
“ Do you still have it? The Mariam of today thinks it was nice being with you then.”
“Yes… but hidden under the lowest drawer in my room.”
“Dimashq, can you believe him? He says I wrote him a letter. I swear I don’t have a clue… He wouldn’t lie to me, though. So what do you think? Is he trippin’?”
“I guess not. He is telling the truth.”
“OMG. My life is so full of surprises. It’s a soap opera! How could one forget a letter they had written some while ago? 16 years ago. And you know I have a fantastic memory. Habibti, I wish I had an idea of what I have told him in that letter. I remember nothing. Nada. Niente.”
“You feel me. That’s enough. When the time is right, you’ll learn everything. For now, patience and enjoy the ride, your journey of life.”
“My journey of teenager amour, you mean? He’s my best friend, my family. I just can’t believe we are back in touch. Now I will never ever let go of this.”
Besides, miracles do happen in Damascus.
And just like the priest named Ananias had returned the sight to Saul before his baptism – Saint Paul – inshallah, the place shall elude this darkness.
Light upon Light, heart with heart, hand in hand, high conscience aligned, let the world revive
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind and did not eat or drink anything.
— Acts 9:3–9, NIV
The account continues with a description of Ananias of Damascus receiving a divine revelation instructing him to visit Saul at the house of Judas on the Street Called Straight and there lay hands on him to restore his sight. Ananias is initially reluctant, having heard about Saul's persecution, but obeys the divine command:
"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
— Acts 9:13–19, NIV
“I can write a text with my mind of today, if you want.”
“Did I write it right after coming back from Damascus?”
“Yes, right away. 3 pages.”
“Oh my! Fares, I just can’t believe it. When you can, please send those pages to me. Oh my God! Lol.”
“It was the first letter I had ever gotten in my life…”
“Didn’t I say anything nice about you?”
“Oh, I would love to… but they are hidden at home in Damascus. Hmmm… Nope.”
“Ah, in your room in Damascus? Good. OK, let’s hope one day very soon this war will be over, and we meet back in Al Jazeera 5, and we read it together. What do you think?”
“I was planning to go for a visit … for the last time to say good-bye.”
“Fares, with all that’s been going on, I really don’t think you should go, now.”
“If I do, I will get it for you.”
“When was the last time you went there?”
“I went 6 years ago for 10 days.”
“Wow! Lucky you. I never went back again, after 1997. I was in the eleventh grade.”
“In May 2012 when I decided "let’s go family", the country went on fire. And priorly, my parents had gone there by themselves. Weirdos!”
“My father thinks I am having the well-known midlife crisis.”
“It’s just because I think a lot of my childhood. And want to be home so badly, just to say goodbye for one last time.”
“I do hope ‘they’ won’t be laying a finger on our Damascus!”
“Let’s see. It’s not turning to a good side though.”
“No, not at all, unfortunately.”
“The strangest feeling ever is the one you get after leaving your childhood place and move on. You lose that wonderful place.”
Save Ghouta. Save the children of the Universe. Each and every single child of the universe deserves a childhood. Ours was a beautiful dream. And this used to be our childhood dream. Today it's just a dream... Ours was for real.
“I am sure it hasn’t been easy for you either.”
“Do you remember? We went to a dentist together, he was a Cherkasy too, I guess.”
"I like 'Mariam now'. She is a strong and happy woman. Wow! Really?”
“Well, the one writing you that letter was an unexperienced Damascene teenager who was surprised and shocked a bit at that time. Now I think it was lovely… but you were very crazy, like very! You hugged me like that all of a sudden."
“Yes, we did. The frontal tooth. I went with you. You even told me when getting off the cab that I was a jadbe (stupid) and to stop saying ‘thank you’ to everybody because they would think that I am stupid. Fares, you were one of a kind, man! I am laughing my heart out. I want to see that letter. Bravo 3aley! Bravo to me! Forza, I kicked you. Haha!”
“I hope I return to Damascus and get it back for you.”
“Oh, please do. That would be lovely. For us, not me, it will be nice to talk about it. I don’t even remember having written it, at all.”
“For the first time in my life, I had to ask a friend what macho meant.”
“Did I write that: ‘macho’? Oh my! Forza Mariam. Good for me. I am loving it. I am so sorry, but I am having so much fun. Fares we gotta read that together, one day. One fine day. It would be awesome.”
“This is SO beautiful.”
“I gotta go now, Mariam. See you soon?”
“Well, I gotta go too.”
“Thank you for being you.”
“Bye-bye! I am always me.”