Fairy Godmother Resigns

Since I caught liver infection, I’ve been in need of my fairy godmother, but she has not showed up in while, perhaps preferring to not mingle with me anymore, a wise decision in the myriad of terrible ones she had graced upon me in the past. But nonetheless, I missed her visits, now that I’ve been spending much time alone.

However when she did visit, it was abrupt and quick, like she didn’t want to be with me, or be around our house at all. I was thrilled to see her, appearing before me like she always did, but this time her eyes were tired and sunken, yet not affecting her youthful appearance. How old was she anyway? To me, it never seemed like she was aging.

Sitting over for coffee, she tucked a lock of hair behind her ears. “Why aren’t you coming here anymore?” I ask.

My fairy godmother chuckles nervously. “Well… I got a job. It’s taking all my time, sometimes I’m not even in town for several days.”

I can feel my mouth opening slightly in that dumb way. I took a sip. “I know the workforce in Syria has dwindled significantly, but I didn’t know they were hiring grandmas. Do they even know about your magical nature?”

She winked. “I suppose my magical nature kind of… helped, in me getting the job.” She put the cup of coffee down. “Magical creatures are in high demand.”

“But I thought no one was supposed to see you, except me. I just don’t get it,” I stared at her. “You’re a figment of my imagination.”

“Oh silly you,” she pulled a cigarette out of her Lucky Star packet. “I’m real. I’m real because you think I’m real. I’m the realist thing in your life.”

I hunched over the table. “It doesn’t make sense. I created you to fulfill my crippling emotional dependency and to be my friend, because I’m too much of a lazy, arrogant loser to make any. I imagined you as a figure with a specific job to cater to my needs and whims, to withhold judgment on me and assert my opinions because I’m too afraid of being wrong.” I tightened my grip around the cup. “You cannot just go and have another job.”

My fairy godmother fixed her shining, droopy eyes on me. It scared me, she was serious, unwavering. “You don’t know anything. You’re a sheltered twit with massive daddy issues suffering from a lack of purpose and I’m tired of your bullshit and your constant whining. You can’t go to the fucking supermarket to buy your own fucking cigarettes. I will not spend the rest of my life stroking your inflated ego. I’m exhausted. And above all this, you don’t even pay me!”

“I don’t have to pay you!” I shouted. “I made you. You wouldn’t even be here if I didn’t imagine you. You wouldn’t say all this dumb shit if I didn’t make you smart.”

She again made that move of tucking a lock of hair behind her ear, regaining some of her composure. “Listen, I don’t want be your fairy godmother anymore. I can’t fulfil your needs like I used to, I’ve become too integrated into the system, too human. Not to mention I’m happy with my job, I’m even thinking of learning a second language.”

“A second language…”

“Yes, French perhaps. My clients would like it if I spoke another language.”

“Your clients…? What’s your job anyway?”

“I’m a prostitute.”

A long silence stretched between us, so slimy it was as if we were wading through a swamp of shit. Dumbfounded, I carried our now empty cups to the sink. “A prostitute…”

“Yes,” she perked. “It’s really rewarding. You get to know all those men and how they feel. It was hard at first, but I got used to it. They’re not paying as much as before, but my needs are few, and I’m building a solid base of loyal clients.”

I stared into the dirty sink, following the pattern of poured coffee and apple peels. “How… how are you marketing yourself?”

“Word of mouth.” She replied. “One man comes, tells his friends. His friends tell their friends, and so on.”

“Wow…” I glanced over my back at her. “How do you feel about it? Is it ok to you, to sell your body like that?”

She shrugged. “I don’t sell my body, I sell sex. But since you created me, I carry a little of your religious guilt, but you also created me to manage around these things. So not only do I manage your religious guilt, but also the religious guilt of the men I sleep with.”

“You’re really getting around this thing, huh?”

“Yes, I am. And frankly, I’m enjoying the money. It’s not much, but it suffices.”

I turn around to face her again. “What the fuck would you need the money for? You only eat and drink for appearances and to keep me satisfied. You dress differently every time I see you so you wouldn’t need it to buy clothes. For what, seriously?”

“I’m giving all the money I earn to independent groups working with Syrian refugees. It feels good to alleviate the suffering of a few when there’s so much injustice.”

“How touching.”

She sighed. “I’m doing everything in my capacity. I have a thirst for life. I want to expand myself. I want to see the world. I’ve been confined to your circle, and honestly that’s not healthy.”

“The circle or me, personally?”

“Both. You’re leading a destructive lifestyle. All that coffee and cigarettes, no friends, no lovers, you’re not even writing anything good anymore. You don’t take anything seriously, especially your future. You’re also too cynical, too numb, like nothing matters to you anymore.”

“See?” I exclaimed. “That’s exactly why I created you. You’re supposed to tolerate me even with all my shortcomings.”

“Sweetheart, humans learn and grow, they get out of suffocating situations for their sake.”

“You’re not real!” I shouted, frustration engulfing me. “You’re not human. You’re not supposed to feel things. You’re not supposed to develop opinions. You’re my creation.”

She sighed. “Guiding you is weighing me down, emotionally. I think… I think you need to see a therapist, to get rid of that dictator inside you.”

“This is Syria, there are no therapists.”

“Then I’m sure you’ll find something on Youtube to help you.”

It was too much. My last lifeline was abandoning me, and now my nausea was coming back. “So…” I began. “You’re serious about this resignation thing.”

“Yes,”

“Well, at least, have lunch with me?”

She shook her head. “No, I have to go, a client is waiting for me.” She got up from her seat, absent-mindedly dusting her frilly blue dress.

I escorted her to the door, where she held my face between her hands. “Take care of yourself alright? Make sure to rest well and follow the doctor’s prescription, ok?” I nodded. “I’ll visit every now and then, goodbye.”

Opening the door for her, I wondered when she stopped fading like she usually did and started using the door. Alas, shit like this no longer mattered.

“Bye, fairy godmother.”

“Bye, dear.”

A Government-sponsored Life

“I don’t want to die, Ibrahim.” I tell him.

“Everything dies,” he replies. “Don’t be afraid of death. Fear dying without being satisfied with yourself.”

But Ibrahim, life is not a performance. Although there are people bent on assigning us roles and binding us in a specific timeline ending with the end of the play and the destruction of the stage, life is not a performance. Why the need to be satisfied?

“I’m not afraid of death.” I say, I lie.

I lie again. “I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to die before seeing anything beautiful in our region.”

There are plenty of beautiful things in our region, I remind myself, but seeing them, and participating in them, requires money. I don’t have money. I have an Internet connection, so I only get to see pictures and read articles about beautiful things in our region.

“I don’t want to die before witnessing a streak of hope.”

I’m so full of shit.

“That’s just it. Death is coming anyway, and I have immense respect for it.”

But there are people dying way before their time, and then branded as dying just at the right moment. “Martyred”, they say. Well fuck you and fuck your martyrs. People are being sent to die, people are being paid to kill. Fuck you and fuck your martyrs.

“I just want death to take a vacation.” I tell him. “I just want to hear about someone dying naturally of old age in our region. Just once.”

You can get killed in many ways here, and this is for the tourists. You can die from a shell and get buried under rubble, you can be shot by a sniper, tortured in an underground prison cell, commit suicide by exploding yourself, but they won’t say you committed suicide, no- you were “martyred”. Here, stay with me, this martyrdom culture is of vital importance to understand how savage we are, but with some good hard cash, hopefully you won’t have to meet any of us as you lay on one of our beaches which we’re not allowed into, because we’re too disgusting and poor to enjoy it, but there are always pictures and articles about these places, so really, no big deal.

Life is not a performance, Ibrahim. I don’t want to act. I don’t want a script. It will be issued by our governments anyway, and our governments lie; they lie a lot. Plus, there is the issue of the theater, and since we’re in an Arab country, the theater will be owned by the government. And since we’re in an Arab country, Ibrahim, we, too, are owned by the government.

Dear, and since we’re in an Arab country, too, no one will come to watch the play. We will hope, in the backstage, that it’s because they know the government lie, but it’s not like that, Ibrahim, it’s because no one gives a fuck about theater anymore.

People are dying in the streets, love, no one gives a fuck about theater anymore.

So no, spare me, Ibrahim, I don’t want to act.

Spare me the pain of getting a hundred papers from government officials, and then spending the entire week just to sign them from a security man, and then kissing hundreds of asses, licking hundreds of boots, just to be allowed to stage our play.

I don’t want to act in their play. We all know how it will end; you and I, dear Ibrahim, we’ll be martyred. People will stand up and applaud, but they wouldn’t know why they’re applauding, or what’s about dying prematurely that is so exciting to them, but they will stand up and applaud anyway, because we were taught that something about this whole martyr business is important. No one really knows why, but it’s important, so no one questions it.

Death is yet to take a vacation, Ibrahim. Death is just as tired and frustrated and depressed as we are. Death did not attend the play, though it surely knows the script. Death thinks it’s cliché. Though our lives are anything but clichéd, they’re just mundane.

I’m not afraid of death, Ibrahim. I’m just afraid of dying without really knowing what life is like. We don’t know what life is like. We’ve never known what life is like. We think we do, but we wouldn’t know life if it punched us in the face, Ibrahim. We’d probably run away from it when we see it.

But who cares? We’ll be martyred! Think about it, dear, it’s a lucrative business, this martyr thing, but not for us. No no, you and I, love, we just die. It’s a lucrative business for the big heads, for God’s men on Earth. People like you and I, Ibrahim, just die.

They call us martyrs so no one will have to think too much. Our governments are exceptionally kind, you see, they don’t want to strain people’s mind with bullshit like reasons why a young man in his twenties was sniped from a rooftop, or way a baby died under rubble. No, sweetheart, government officials, standing for the population, will come, watch the play, and go back home.

They have lives to go on with, after all, not clichéd lives, just mundane, like the rest of us. But the difference, dear Ibrahim, is that people like you and I, just die, so government officials can continue attending plays issued by the government.

I’m very sorry, love, I cannot share that dream of yours, of spending our lives away in an isolated island, in nudity, drinking and partying our lives away, and pissing in the sea. I also don’t want to act in that stupid, fucked up play, but I cannot get off the stage. The stage is disintegrating under my feet, Ibrahim, and yet I cannot get off it and go with you to that isolated island.

What if the government owned that island? Maybe our governments own all the islands. Maybe they own life as we know it, but as I demonstrated before, we don’t really know life, so don’t worry.

Until our governments stop issuing scripts, I cannot go.

Until our governments no longer own theaters, I cannot go.

Until people are no longer martyrs, I cannot go.

Until the people stand up and applaud because the whole stage fell apart, I cannot go.

Until Death comes vacationing with us on that island of yours, Ibrahim, I cannot go.

I’m sorry.

Revealing the Dove

Hello guys, this post is translated by me for SolidarityWithEgyptLgbt, which is a project started by me and some other friends. We document human rights abuses committed by the Egyptian government and seek to give those of the queer community a platform to speak about their issues.

This post was originally written in Arabic by a friend of mine, and it tackles a pervasive kind of sexual harassment in Egypt’s public schools for boys.

I hope you enjoy it, and tell me your thoughts.

Solidarity with Egypt LGBT

hqdefault

This is a translation of a previous post written by Ibrahim Abdella
***

All of a sudden, he’s stranded at the shoulders and his movement restricted, any attempts to enter are hindered by closing the classroom’s door with his bed, and some stand beside it as to warn of any person approaching. No less than six members gather around him, their tasks split between holding him down for easier access to the next step, untying his belt and the buttons of his school uniform, sliding it down his legs, and attempting to remove his underwear to reveal his “dove”.

What I just described are, in short, the steps taken to “reveal the dove”, and it’s an infamous practice widespread in boys’ schools in several cities, starting at elementary level until high school.
This “practice” aims at one thing, and it’s humiliating the victim through revealing his private parts forcedly in…

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Don’t Come, Late Night Translation of an Old Poem for the Broken Hearted

She tells me
with a dry smile
that she’s coming on Friday

My heart leaps out of my chest
I flounder
look at all corners
breathe slowly…
wonder
between glancing at her
and staring at my feet
if she had noticed the cracks in my breath
and if she would confiscate my emotions
like she did my heart…

I feign expectancy
while reminding her of my place of residence
and I watch her laugh
then leave
following her with my eyes
staring at her crooked figure
while thinking about what to wear when she comes…

She calls
he mother is sick, she won’t be able to come
in that moment
I was swept with a massive desire to kiss her!
thanks for not coming
and especial thanks to your sick mother
please
send her my regards

She knows
that the closer she gets
the space between us widens
but she
despite this
still insists on stitching my torn dress
I appreciate this but
the dress no longer fits me
so take whatever is left of it and dry your sweaty brow and leave me
to look for another dress

“Did you send your mother my regards?”
“Good.”
“Tomorrow? No, I’m busy, maybe next week.”
I say while searching the telephone book
for a hired, cheap assassin
and think whom should I kill of her family
so she won’t come next week

How to read the Syrian body: Lebanese racist ideologies and politics of difference

the interrogations of shamshouma

The story of the Syrian body as seen by Lebanese eyes is not a new one, it dates back to the time when Syrian workers migrated to Lebanon and became cheap labor, around the country’s largest institutional and urban development in the 1950s.And cheap labor, with time, cheapens the body itself and disciplines it. People then would speak of the Syrian worker as someone coming from dark places of Syria, unknown barbaric villages that manufacturepeople who were completely different from Lebanese. “Not all Syrians are backward”, the story went, “but these people who come to Lebanon and work in construction and other cheap form of labor, come “men wara al ba2ar”, they are dirty, ignorant and stupid”. Somehow labor exploitation disappears onto the Syrian worker’s body, thereby making it as ontologically different and alien, not just for middle and upper class Lebanese but for their fellow Lebanese…

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A Washed Up, Old Poem for Mother’s Day

When I think of what’s it like
to grow up,
I think it’s that moment when you’re old enough to understand
why your mother didn’t smile
that day,
or why she was crying
while washing the dishes.
You think:
“hey, I’ve grown a little bit.”

But it’s sad- it’s very sad.
You wish that moment hadn’t come when you’ve realized,
maybe mama has a life of her own,
too.

But you can’t accept it!
You just can’t.
Your mother is supposed to be that marvelous creature that radiated every morning,
that made the best of foods,
that had kisses with magic healing abilities.

She’s your Goddess,
and Gods don’t feel pain, but assimilate ours
into them.
But then you grow up
and think:
“maybe she isn’t a Goddess after all.”

Though you still can’t accept the fact she’s just a human.
She’s MOTHER;
she defeats the evils in the world
and protects you while you sleep
at the corner of her broken smile.

And like that,
mothers veer into our minds,
carrying the stature of a nameless creature;
not God, not human,
just a bunch of coherent words we run to
when we forget how to read.

You grow up to understand
that maybe,
just maybe
your mother had a good reason to have been so mad that day.
Maybe she had a good reason to not force a smile that dinner.

Maybe we shouldn’t have watched her back as the sound of the faucet’s water
covered the sound of bitter sobbing, while we tried not to make a sound and alert her to our presence,
fearing she will know
-like she always does-
that she’s not what we
initially
perceived her to be.

To realize that,
mama, too, can be defeated.
That’s what it was like for me,
to grow up. .

When They Ask You About Syria

They ask, what is life like inside Syria?

It’s many things, but mostly, right now, it’s exhausting.

It’s exhausting to those who, like me, do not reside in areas of conflict. It’s exhausting because we’re not really there and yet everyday life reminds us, snidely, whispering in our ears, that we are.

It’s exhausting because we don’t really know what’s happening.

It’s exhausting because you feel betrayed. But who did it? Who pushed the button? Who was the first to fire back? Who was the first to declare war?

When was the fruit plucked, and who tempted them to pluck it?

There surely is a culprit, but with so many parties roaming around it’s frankly hard to pinpoint the blame on one party when everyone seems and sounds guilty. Even you, in your little apartment, away from the chaos, are guilty.

Of what? I have no fucking idea. But you are, and you feel it all the time. You feel it when you eat, you feel it when you go down for a walk, you feel it when you have money in your pocket, you feel it when you wash the dishes, and the deliciousness of warm water on your skin is riveting.

Sometimes this guilt makes you feel like standing in a crowded street. There’s no place for your feet. People are walking around you, numb, drained, their eyes glassy, indiscernible. You sense that only you still possess enough conscious to avoid bumping into others. The rest of your fellow country people become terrifying; you don’t know them anymore. Everyone are distant, unapproachable.

But, perhaps, you’re the one who’s distant and approachable.
*
They say, I don’t read the news anymore.

Good. Good for you. How much is the yogurt?

A lot. A lot of money.

You buy nail polish instead. You’re not hungry anyway, you just wanted the yogurt because the yogurt is an essential part of the Syrian experience and you want the Syrian experience. You still want to feel that this is Syria and you are Syrian and you are eating that special Syrian yogurt that is unlike any other.

You cannot eat the nail polish. Now you’re hungry. And extra guilty. You bought an unnecessary item when many of your fellow country people have nothing to eat.

You apply the nail polish. There are no instructions to apply the nail polish so you have to figure it out by yourself. I’m sorry this is so but it’s just how things are. Stop whining. No, no don’t cry. Now now, there’s no point in lamenting the unbought yogurt.

The first layer of this nail polish is basically transparent. This angers you. You apply another layer. The first layer hasn’t dried yet, so they kinda mingle and collect instead of spread.

This nail polish is made somewhere outside Syria. It is laden with conspiracy. Even applying it is being conspiratorial! You are helping the enemy by endorsing in their products. Bad citizen. Horrible citizen. Absolutely unpatriotic!

No more nail polish, your mom says.

Your mom secretly paints her toes and covers them with socks.

You don’t like your fellow country people anymore, but you like your country, at least you think you do. They taught you to like your country, so you probably do like it. But you don’t like your fellow country people anymore, you’re certain of this, and you have a sneaking suspicion that the feelings are mutual. They don’t like you either, you’ve become a burden. One more mouth to feed. But you’re not hungry! I mean you just bought nail polish instead of yogurt, why do they have to treat you like this?

Why does everyone act as if this country is theirs and theirs alone? I have an idea! Let’s all create our own countries. Me, you, that man rummaging in the garbage. We could all make a country.

Right, you want a flag? I will help you create one, after all, this is a national movement, or maybe a goodbye party, either way, I will help you in designing your flag.

Oh you want the two stars in the original flag? But I wanted them first, so you can’t have them.

Seriously? Do you even know what the fucking two stars represent?

Me neither.

They probably represent something but it doesn’t matter, because I called for them first.

What the fuck, you can’t use my nail polish to paint your stupid flag. I call this whole plan off! Back to Syria, no country for everyone, return to your parents, play time is over.

You don’t want to go back to Syria you say? But you were just fighting for the two stars. Ah, right, you don’t know their meaning. Obviously you can’t use something you don’t know the meaning of. What will you say when diplomats and ambassadors ask you what they mean? It would be embarrassing to not have an answer.

Silly, you just created your own fucking country! Who cares what foreign ambassadors have to say?

Now that you have created your own country, we, as the international community, implore you to take Syrian refugees in. Open your arms. Haven’t you seen what is happening to their country?

Oh, you’re not watching the news anymore?

Good. Good for you. News lie anyway.

to be continued… sometime in the future… maybe

Give Me the Flute and Sing

Fairouz, one of the, if not the greatest singer Arabic music history has ever known. This song is a masterpiece, a combination of poetry and music that captures the soul in a trance, leading you to a place of unparalleled beauty, a place of love and salvation; it’s a celebration of the human spirit, of the human ability to find wonder in the details of our everyday existence. I present my average, and lacking, translation of the song. I hope you like it.
…………

Give me the flute and sing, for singing is the secret for immortality

and the soughing of the flute remains, after the ceasing of existence

Did you make of the forest like me, a home away from castles…
traced streams and climbed rocks?

Did you bath in perfume and dry yourself with light
drank dawn as wine in goblets of the unseen between sky and earth?

Give me the flute and sing, for singing is the highest form of prayer
and the soughing of the flute remains, after the ceasing of existence

Did you spend the afternoon like me, between grape wine
and tufts of grape hung down like chandeliers of gold?

Did you camp on the grass at night, and covered yourself with space
heeding not what’s to come, forgetting what had transpired?

Give me the flute and sing, for singing is the justice of hearts
and the soughing of the flute remains, after sins cease to exist

Give me the flute and sing, forget malady and cure
people are but lines, written in water.

My Country

My country is countless hours in a doctor’s waiting room, suffocating with ill people.

Stolen kisses in dark alleys and corners

Extra money in the hand of an officer

Long blackouts

An unfinished building that has become a landmark

Hearty laughter followed by quiet sobbing

Old tires kept in historical buildings

*

My country is elites disconnected from reality

And poor people too consumed by reality

*

My country is the forgotten lover and exhausted beloved

And above all, my country is a falafel stand with questionable hygienic standards, but you eat the falafel anyway, because it’s goddamn good.

Because you’re hungry.

Because it’s cheap.

Because it’s cheap.

Thirst

When I leave
I’ll take my desert with me
*
To carry the desert in your heart
is to carry a smoldering sunset
and a smoldering sunrise
it is to carry the weight of poetic words
unwritten
undocumented
*
The desert is heavy
with all its emptiness
yet its marvel is that
it does not resemble a shallow vase
but a place of wonder
a land of divine revelation
*
the desert is a curse
and a blessing
it is around you but you cannot see it
it is present yet not really there
Do not wait for the desert to reveal itself
like it reveals everything else
the desert is no mother
yet we are its children
it loves you but knows no commitment
it screams
but is solemn
hidden
yet exposed
*
we can only be free
once we recall
how the desert belongs to no one
and because we are the children of this desert
we, too, belong to no one