A nameless woman with ambition

She hooks her bulky statement necklace at the back of her alabaster neck skillfully in few seconds, then runs her hands smoothly and quickly through her light brown medium long hair, shaking away the residues of her failed-sleeping encounters last night and all other nights.

Automatically, her bland hands with no rings or even ring prints on them travel to her make-up kit to draw the subtle picture she creates every morning to hide the growing lines around her mouth, the edges of her eyes and on the top of her forehead. Someone threw a seed when she turned 29 last August, and then like weed through a petite garden, they proliferated slowly but surely all over her face with fine features.

The black kohl  mixed with few strokes of light-colored eye-shadow run over her eyelids to give the impression that she has had a good sleep, and has not spent the night fighting a gnawing loneliness and a gawking emptiness which seems to find no comfort in anyone else’s bed but hers.

They have accompanied her for the last 6 years or so, yet she never surrendered to them. Every night she would fight back for her right for few hours of sleep, and every night she loses, and every night they return harsher and stronger. But something inside her has grown accustomed to the nightly raids, even yearns for it, and looks forward to it. She has begun to enjoy the torture. It has become part of her existence ritual; fight the ghastly creatures who manipulate the thinning fabric of her mind at night, and roam around in the morning making sure no one sees the insomniac creature she has boiled down to.

Only her mother can feel her through the heavy layers of the darkness and silence. Being a too ambitious girl for a Middle Eastern society that looks down on females who outsmart their male counterparts, her mother believes she needs to focus more on getting married than her career. But she doesn’t have a career, she has a purpose. It has all started when she tasted the field of Academia.

An_Old_Men_Walking_by_Coimbra_Streets_(6237365663)

She knew she had a message to convey,  but the problem was she had no idea what that message is. The search has taken her from one level of success to the other, but never with a true sense of fulfillment. She doesn’t know if she should keep chasing,  putting everything else on hold or if she should just give up and go down the well-trodden path that all her girl-friends and peers have taken? She is certain they have countless nights of deep sleep. If they wake up in the middle of the night, it is to feed a baby or slip in within a warm engulfing wrapping hug. They never fight shadows out of their mind and bed, because night creatures are afraid of husbands and children.

She knows she shouldn’t give up. Because if she does, this hollow circle in the middle of her still-firm-bosom will continue to expand and swallow her. But also if she doesn’t, it won’t be long before her skin wilts and peels, and loneliness would finally get a chance to finish his horrid maps of lost treasures on her small face. Before she knows it, she will turn into the cast-away bitter friend whom everybody avoids on happy occasions because they are scared she will be envious or they will hurt her feelings with their happiness and togetherness.

She walks through the sleepy house at six in the morning, picks up her car keys, her purse, her computer, her papers, her cup of coffee, her smokes, her music, and heads down to look for her purpose of existence within the suffocating traffic and inhalations of board chalk.

 

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Posted in Acknowledgement, Ambition, Characters, Fiction, Identity, Life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Until the last moment…

Come…

Let me take your anger.. hear you scream and shout…

Let me take your fury and hear you cry out…

Come…

Break between my arms .. let the ice melt…

Let go the storm .. turn my collar wet…

Let the thoughts crack that wall…

Let all you feel saturate my soul…

Free the weakness .. hold me tight…

Pour the worries of the scary nights…

Come…

Let me hold you.. caress you.. wipe away your fears…

Surround you.. bring you back to cheers…

Soothe you.. warm your lonely angry heart…

Blend with you and be one part…

Come…

Take off the Warriors armor.. show me your fragile side…

I will tender that sweet little child…

I will bring him a twinkling star to shine his face;

A soft breeze to calm him with its grace;

A wicked wave to drown him in a moment of wildness;

Or may be.. a red rose to soak him in bewildering softness..

Come.. and let me.. let me give you;

My heart..

To send the pulse when yours weaken…

My love..

To send the light when you search for a beacon…

My eyes..

To read without speaking .. all your hidden…

And my arms..

To always break .. within…

Posted in Beginnings, Happiness, Life, Love, Poetry, Songs and music | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does the core want?

  • “Focus on the core!” he said.

His voice reverberated with passion knocking her head down on a promising soft yoga mat on the floor.

  • “Close your eyes and focus on the core!”

She doesn’t understand what he means by that. Gosh..these people! It’s her first class. Couldn’t they’ve provided a list of terminology or a what-to-expect document for new joiners? What’s the core? Whose core? Or which core?

  • “Focus on your core.”

Does she have one? Where would that be? She tried to relax her body on the matt, loosening up her stretched legs and letting her hands fall lifelessly beside her. The earth seemed to pull her down in a luscious hug.

It felt good to just give in to the palpable gravitating force. She was taken on a very soothing journey through a rotational ritual. No resistance. Just surrender.. surrender to the power of an infinite constant uncontrollable movement.

The sensation was overpowering; her abdomen was pulled back tighter, and a new level of awareness was being born. She saw her mind flowing like a bee towards a flower, towards the middle of her stomach. Her sensitivity was heightened and her blood circulation revolved around this specific part of her body like worshipers around the worshiped, like planets around the sun, like creation around the source of existence, around the centre, around the core.

That’s the core then!

Her right-hand moved slowly exploring the way to her belly button. When one finger found the sacred depression in her stomach, her entire palm unconsciously nestled over it.

  • “Breathe, inhale, and focus on the core.”

The voice of the trainer still reached her like inspiration from a parallel world. What’s IMG_0279happening under her hand was the only thing she could think of at that moment. While her hand went up and down slowly with her inflating and deflating belly, the action magnified enough to swallow her consciousness. The rhythm of breathing became all that mattered.

People around her laid hopelessly on their mats, striving for balance, serenity, stability or peace of mind, in an utterly tipped-off world running around with maximum speed on its edge, but the rhythm of breathing became all that mattered for her.

Where her palm is resting now, has become genuinely the centre of all existence as known to her at this particular moment. She is fully absorbed in the metrical movement of her hand over the core, rising with each deep breath gently up and falling with each exhale down. Her breathing tempo was life in its pure essence. Inhaling was life going up,  full of hope and potential, exhaling was life in its down moments when one has to let go of the possibilities , sadly but with grace and acceptance, because the rhythm is unstoppable.

Her core was continuously filling up with new chances with every new breath in. Yet , her core had the necessary wisdom to surrender to the power of the universe and let go with each breath down ; Natural law of life; no fight, just flowing with the earth beneath and our intuition.

Is that what her core wants?

The core doesn’t want to hear of conflict, of humanity dispensing off its compassion and understanding, or of men trying to be gods. The core doesn’t want to bear a sense of guilt and unexplained feeling of frustration as if it has left another core with a load of unfulfilled rightful expectations.

The core just wants to float easily over life, no struggles, just acceptance.

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The beginning of the affair…

He has a shoulder-length curly hair, flowing in gold, and summoning images of long flirtatious beach escapades under a delicate sun.

It was his hair that first caught her attention. Or may be it was the way it embraced a lengthy sturdy neck. She couldn’t stop stealing glances of a self-imposing adam’s apple decorated with throbbing veins and covered by a rough premature gold beard.

His face was long with wide but not fully squared-chin and he had a pointed nose. Just

 A Unique Take on Trees by Ildiko Neer

A Unique Take on Trees by Ildiko Neer

looking at his face makes her smell the romantic fresh crisp wet streets of Paris. He is so French and she has never met a real-life French hero before. She only reads about them in popular romantic fiction books, or see them in her approved list of romantic movies.

His eyes were so blue that they made her sad. His sleepy prolonged brown lashes made promises and broke them, all at the same time. He is moderately built; not a stick but not disgustingly body-built either.

He shows up every weekend in khaki shorts and a loose white or baby blue cotton t-shirt with a v-neck exposing the tip of a tanned hairy chest. She could picture him in her head while he slides it smoothly, carelessly, and confidently over his body in the morning.

He hardly checks his big metallic watch which matches perfectly the rugged arm. He is always so laid back. She could see it in his languorous smile to his two beautiful daughters, and the way he walks barefooted around the park, bathing his feet in the early Saturday morning dew, on the tips of a yearning grass.

Though she was confident he is completely out of her league, she thought she caught him paying her few glances across the buzzing weekend’s playground.

Last week, their eyes met and locked for few seconds. He didn’t look away as she challenged him and stared back blatantly, this time adamant to confirm her doubts.

“Mom, I need help, please!”

Her son’s voice broke the spell,  forcing her to violate the sanctity of a deliciously stolen moment. She looked away and held her son with a coarse hand wrapped in a frail wedding-ring. She could still sense his eyes lingering on her back.

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An old woman’s monologue

She sat down with those deep wrinkles cutting through her face. She looks old, but in fact she is not. She does look hurt, frustrated and lost.

lossy-page1-409px-Ancient_eter.tifHiding under her big veil, that covers her hair and the upper part of her body, she flicked through the countless TV channels with her loose-skin hands. She talked while  jumping mechanically from one channel to the other. Lately, she has been into talking.

” I love your father so much. That’s why I haven’t walked out till now. But I also loved you, y’know.  Before, I wanted to make him happy, now I want to see him happy. I think he deserves much better than this.”

She stopped for a while, never looking at me. And never explaining what’s “this”. For a second I thought she will not continue and won’t reveal more, yet:

“I am happy with my studying now- I look forward to those four hours, but I am not happy with the way I look. Do you want to hear something I haven’t shared with anyone before? I have always wished I was beautiful. I was never the confident woman everyone thought I was. Expectation, expectations, expectations… you always have to meet expectations. I never believed I was beautiful. Part of me was flying over the moon when your dad picked me out of all the rest. No, not that I married him because I thought I couldn’t do better, however, deep within I wondered if I could afford to lose this marriage opportunity.

“You know what too? Sometimes I wish I didn’t marry someone who is my age. Look at me.. and look at him. That’s why women are supposed to marry older men, they won’t have to see themselves growing so incapable and unwanted.

“Yes, if I go back in time, I will marry someone older, and then I wouldn’t have to be all stressed out or fret about aging.

“Stress brings wrinkles and senility… days have went, eras have elapsed and I wish I had download (2)exercised those 30 minutes per day, or accepted that job offer in Canada or that huge multinational I told you about  before. It would have saved me a lot, can you imagine? Can you imagine how all of our lives would have been different if, back at the time, he encouraged me genuinely to take on a real job? Supported me…

“Enjoy your husband’s attention while it lasts, dear. You have a chance now, but you keep postponing things until your kids grow older or whatever. Why?!

I can’t look at the past and remember anything now! I can’t even remember the milestones of my own children as they grew up. It’s like someone else took over my life.”

She stopped and left the room.. and me bewildered…

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The tragic finite man

But life…

What is life?

Just a quest to make peace with your fate, incidents that are imposed upon you, and the fatalities of your wrong decisions or the short-lived victory of the right ones.

Just a mission to dodge and dodge and keep dodging, while always focusing on the road ahead. A video game!

Oh, my! The human race is so wretched! Yet man thinks he is master of the universe; isn’t it comical?!

Humans invent social codes and traditions, then they get trapped within.

Humans formulate economic systems, which evolve and mature as if with a life of their own to crush people with dynamics that were never there in the first place, let alone planned for or anticipated.

Humans sophisticate architecture, their innovation and art spread airs of fake control and arrogance, and then it cracks or tumbles down or become another asset for society to lock us up and cut our wings.

How could we be in charge when we do not have a choice of our mere whereabouts? How could we have a key to the cage when we haven’t yet seen its bars? We are tied down hands and feet to a finite system, constructed upon a beginning and an end law, which in return is the outcome of the Here and Now measurement system.

How could we be the controller when the parameters have already been drawn meticulously for us?They are so elaborate and intertwined keeping us roaming in loops imagesunder the unfathomable layers of the universe, where man stands helpless with his finite brain, in an infinite galactic space, which doesn’t abide by the earthly time and place frame.

Every day, we wake up to unearth and discover but never to invent matter. Only rearrange the elements within the bigger circle.

Is this why we are so tragic and so great? Is this why we are a higher species? Is this why we are better than angels who do not have to deal with the devastating process of decision-making within preconceived constraints and upon which we have zero control, and  cannot tolerate? Even worse, we try to challenge it ignorantly at times!

Is this why we are essentially enigmatic? Because despite how small and knowledge-lacking we are, we still strive to keep our humanity intact. After all, there are still a lot of good people out there, those who do not give up on morals, compromise their ethics, or lose empathy.

 

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The death of a gentleman

Death has once more claimed another man of the very few good men…

I don’t know Bassem Sabry personally…

When I followed him on twitter, I was under the impression that he is my lovely ex-boss Bassem Hamdy Sabry. He once commented on one of my tweets and though we differed in opinion, I still appreciated how he has put out his comment.

As days went by and as waves of change continued to wash out Egypt, I discovered we have so many common friends, who were much closer to him than me. I knew Bassem from the eyes of everyone else; they all agreed he was a good man. Simple!

Isn’t it very rare to find a so- very- young man, who was able to attract the attention of so many boys and girls, men and women, and who all happen to endorse him as a special person even though they come from various backgrounds and with very different views on the same topic?!

His death, an addition to all the death news I’ve been receiving recently of people who have just turned thirty, has once more brought me into confrontation with my fears of death and my past dreams and hopes.

I have just turned 32. Though, I am basking in many blessings, I can’t quit sulking over the many things I wish to do before I am summoned to my final destination. To be specific, I can’t stop thinking of the many right things that I need to do before I die.

When I was younger, I used to have a clearer view of my mission on earth, my aim was to leave a mark in people’s hearts. I have always dreaded the concept of people coming and going, leaving no impact whatsoever and dying with the belief that they couldn’t have changed anything. I never want to be like this. I want to create my own legacy. I want to live with passion, rise above the mediocrities and help people live with no regrets, as if every day was their last day.

But the days come and go.. and I am still where I am, if not going backwards. Every time I hear of a young death, I stop and ponder over my life.. and every time I succumb to trivialities and illusions forgetting the only truth; death comes to us all, and that includes me.

Bassem’s death has shown how this man in fewer years than mine has worked on himself first and in the process touched upon the lives of many others, probably not ever noticing he is doing so. He has invented a legacy by becoming the gentleman that this world lacks. The fact that I am writing this piece to mourn him when I have never actually met him testifies to how he was indeed one of the few good men.

Bassem was not a celebrity, but he was one certainly for his network and friends. In return, they have made him a star among the community which matters. He has proven that all which remains for us after we die, is how people will look back and think of us.

Would they pray for us? Would they pay us a visit when it is so dark and lonely? Will they ask God to forgive us? Would they forgive us themselves? Would they still share their good and bad moments? Would they still remember us?

I tried to run away from the news of Bassem Sabry’s death yesterday, but I couldn’t anymore. And on these very very sad days when we have to accept that God is claiming all his good people, I see no point of being sad over Bassem for I believe he is in a much better place.

Instead, I want to console my friends and our generation, who are condemned to deal with the loss of the gentlemen in an era that hardly brings any. I also want to send a tribute to the family and the house that raised such a personality, what a great and enjoyable journey this must have been.

My dear friends, I am so sorry. May Bassem rest in peace, may we all continue to pray for him, may we all continue to remember that life is so short, and that we can create legacies no matter how young we are. Please continue to have the picture of the good people in your hearts and minds, and never stop working on yourselves and on your children, for may be one day we will raise the perfect gentleman and the pefect lady.

 

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Once more.. nonsense about LOVE

The endless discussions about love…

It’s amazing how the conversation never dries up when the topic is about this elusive emotion. Love has left world leaders helpless and violent. It inspired poets when it was generous to surround them and when it was unattainable. It caught us off guard when we were teens, and made us act like teens when we were supposed to be older and wiser. People have exhausted love, and didn’t get exhausted themselves.

Some think they have experienced it, not realizing they were deluded -but is a bliss as they say. Others were so lucky as to taste its sacred fruit but wasted the opportunity to have an all-out life changing experience because they wouldn’t just take the risk. And there are those who were born on a quest to find love but sadly died deprived.

It’s always about love. Why? Because love is our sense of security, it’s our reassurance that we exist in a purer form other than the carnal base. It brings the best in us; the hope that there might be an angel within who can be a guardian of someone else out there. It’s the urge to take care of someone and be taken care of too. But in that case, why a mother’s love to her son and daughter does not suffice?

We fall in love.. it seems so genuine, so true, so relentless, so adamant and willful to stand the test of time. We look into someone’s eyes, our heart skips a beat; this must be true love, the one that is here to stay, the one that will impart meaning to the picture, the one that will fill up the emptiness in the middle of your chest, so you no longer feel impaired or incomplete.

But time drags love…and that which has earlier been so true, becomes so fake, that which was an unfathomable existence, ceases to exist. We refuse to believe love can evaporate, may be we mistook a mirage for a sweet mystifying lake. We blame ourselves, we must have mixed up infatuation with love. Our minds with the cultural and moral pressure must have coated sheer desire with a sublime ethereal view to justify the feeling and create a guilt-free experience.

As we grow older, we become more suspicious of relations; “is this true love?” the tagline of human tragedy. Here are some of the expected answers: If it’s true love, it will hit you right in the face; instantly you should be captivated. Noooo, what about physical attraction, doesn’t it happen immediately too? Or does it just grow on you? Well, it doesn’t make any sense, the non-genuine fleeting emotion (Desire) must be the one that kicks in first. So love must be something that is cultured and nurtured by time. Oh! But here comes another smarty saying; no, love doesn’t grow on you, addictive habits do, though. Is love just a habit?

Do you realize this could be the most enormous illusion  we have woven around ourselves over centuries of self-deception? It could just be a wrongly translated manifestation of our need to soften an obscure background of a very dark reality, the same way a spoon of white sugar lightens up your deeply black coffee, enough to make the bitterness swallow-able.

love-wallpaper-background (1)Is there something called true love? Does it really happen? If it does, should it last forever, or can love actually wither and die? Does it, like some of the optimists believe, grow and mature changing in nature along the way, but never disperses or disappears?Well that could shed some light over the whereabouts of the blood rush, the anxiety, the missing, the pain, the longing, the fear, and all the other mix of early-relationship emotions later on and after few years of togetherness. Has love matured? Or are we being resistant to the truth reinforcing itself: Love is a mortal and a transient element of this life or even worse a complete illusion.

If we go with the optimists view, does that mean love has mutated into habit? Why not?! Your lover becomes a given of daily life, you are settled, and you are guaranteed a victory now kept on the shelf, minute after minute, your eyes lose it’s ability to notice it.

But then again, this entails that love is just a synonym to the excitement which accompanies all the first-times. The fear of losing, the mystery of getting to discover someone new, and the urge to feel special, endorsed, and acknowledged.

That’s another problem. Getting noticed, endorsed and acknowledged is a need that can’t be satisfied. It’s something innate within human nature. does that mean we can love more than once? If yes, do we have to stop loving someone to love someone else, or can we love simultaneously more than one person?

I can see you wrinkling your nose in disgust, wait a minute! Are you sure it is your heart that is talking now or is it your pride? Is emotional exclusivity (which is an invention of modern society by the way) conditioned by the essence and nature of love or by our competitive uncompromising pride?!

So, what is love people? All of you out there, anyone knows?

In the middle of the darkest hours, when it usually seems so bleak and challenging, I still couldn’t 100 percent give up on the concept of love. I can’t deny its existence, because as an abstract emotion it attests itself in the world around me, subtly but confidently. And because on a personal level, I am still held prisoner by its mysterious powers.  It’s true I don’t have a definition for it too, and I struggle as anyone else with my moments of despair, frustrations and lack of faith, but…

I can affiliate Love’s existence with freedom of choice. Love is that very conscious decision you take every night, with full awareness and complete free will, to sleep and wake up beside that special someone every night and every morning, even when the tough gets going and the going gets tough.

That’s what love is all about; the minute you find yourself going to that same bed because of your responsibilities, commitment and duties, it’s no longer love for me.

As for the question about the exclusivity of love, I will leave it up to you to ponder over.

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By the Pontes of Italy.. She Sat Down and Wept! (2)

So, once more she was back in Rome’s airport, few steps away from the center of her dream;

Rome from the top

Rome from the top

the city she has woven zillions of visions around; the city which has kept her going until now, sustained by the hope that one day, she is going to be part of it.

With her luggage she ran to catch the express bus which will drop her at Termini, the central station right in the heart of Rome, where she could pick up a cab to her hotel in the St. Angelo area.

Despite the teary skies, she still kept her mouth stretched with a heartfelt smile; how could she not be happy or even dare complain or moan about the weather. It’s Rome! It can choose to be whatever it wants and she will just continue to love it, just the way it is.

Behind the bus window, Rome glittered under the soft rain droplets. Down the streets, modern and old buildings embraced past and present. People ran away from the rain, and people slowed down to enjoy the rain.

In the traffic light, a man tried to impress the passengers with an acrobatic show, hoping that in this city of arts, someone will stop and acknowledge him. She wasn’t sure if he was just after the money or if he was  on a quest for an audience to witness his talent.

After a long battle with her crippled bag under a-now-heavy rain, she arrived soaking wet at the hotel.

An exquisitely dressed young handsome Italian man, received her with an immaculate distant bookish hospitality. The man was provokingly decent in his dark blue dry suit. He was too composed for her taste; how could Italians be so cold?! Wet from head to toe, she would have preferred some more sympathy and help than his; “How can I help you?!” Well; Help me, please. Take the luggage, offer a towel, say something nice, show her the nearest bathroom or get her into her room for God’s sake. But all she got from the speaking statue was: “you can stay in the lobby at the other end, because your room won’t be ready until three more hours!”

What?! F****! She would have slapped him easily and shoved his arrogance down his throat, if she just wasn’t so tired, and so relentlessly insistent to have a good time despite everything.

She walked helplessly tired, wet, and cold to the lobby. She took off her shoes and socks, breathed in deeply and managed to attract her own attention to the stereotyping trap that this incident had set for her. She shouldn’t generate a judgment just because the first man she met in the hospitality business in Rome has no idea what the word by definition means.

______

She could sense the phone buzzing in her lap merging with a strange low murmur of: “Signora!” What? She is not a Signora, why is she hearing Italian? The word was being repeated slowly, and her phone was still buzzing, she was being ushered into consciousness bit by bit after a fatigued slumber on the lobby’s small couch.

Her eyes locked with charming confused hazel grayish eyes. Was it the trance of sleep or are they really so deep? She couldn’t make out any other face features of the person who was waking her up. It is definitely not the receptionist, his eyes were stony and cold, but this.. this is so warm.

Before she was fully aware and before she could make any sense of where she was, her eyes traveled slowly to the phone that was vibrating its last breath out, as the battery went dead on her! Of course! With the excitement of going to Rome the previous day, she forgot to recharge.

– “Signora!”

Finally, she looked up-

Oh! That’s definitely not the guy she encountered this morning. In fact, he is not any other guy she expected to call her “Signora” down the streets of Rome, and – surely- not on her very first day or in this small old hotel. He is also definitely not the guy she wants to meet in her current miserable condition!

Suddenly, she was too conscious of her messed up image. She was experiencing a moment of female vanity; being too aware of how completely unfeminine she must have looked. Her pants were muddy all the way up to her knees, her hair is probably horrible, and her face is so pale and sleep deprived without a single drop of makeup.

– “Hi..”

She whispered, immediately breaking eye contact, realizing she needs the distraction. Sleep was evaporating now and she could feel the tears pricking the back of her eyes. Tears?! Stop the silliness.

– “Your room is ready for youuuu now, Signora. We are verrryy sorrryy forr keeping youuu waiting for sooo long!”

Yes, you should!” Of course in her head, the live never crossed her tongue. In reality, she was struggling to overcome the mesmerizing effect of the sweet Italian accent. She fumbled  with her scattered belongings all around the room; luggage, bag, mobile, laptop, ah-yes, of course.. her shoes and socks, really?! Kill me .. kill me now!

She knelt down to pick them, turned around as she went up again, and …

–    “Oh… Sorry!” he apologized.

They almost bumped head to head…

–     “No problem..”

–    “Please let me help you with your baggage.”

Eye contact…

–    “Ok!”

Where did that sound come from, now? It’s totally not hers! Seems she is still not fully awake.

__

She walked into the perfect feminine room; the small cozy one with the white baroque bed and pink accessories, and the dreamy paintings of romantic school landscapes and melancholic figures, whom she has always pictured as herself.

She stared at the buildings down the street and imagined what is happening behind closed doors

She stared at the buildings down the street and imagined what is happening behind closed doors

The minute she stepped in she forgot all about the bad experience earlier or about Mr. Grey eyes behind her, who was showing her around the room. He must have said something about breakfast and Concierge, she couldn’t make out what it was exactly, as she stared away through the window that overlooked one of the oldest streets in central Rome. The residential buildings were pieces of art. They were so close; she could see what’s happening behind the windows of the building before her. Oh! She won’t have any sleep tonight; She will reconnect with her old habit; sitting and imagining what is happening behind closed doors; make stories of people, and play with their destinies all without them even knowing that she is doing so.

It was still early in the day, and the rain had stopped for some time. She showered, changed into a warm comfy, yet flattering outfit, and ran down to the reception to get a map and kick off her tour. She looked for … oh … she doesn’t remember his name. Well, he wasn’t there anyway! The girl at the reception for the afternoon shift was very helpful, Valaria, she loved how her name sounds, it just made her smile and made her feel like she could speak Italian.

Valaria told her how to get around the sightseeing areas close to the hotel by foot. Few seconds and she was on the road; walking along with a silly smile on her face, an umbrella in her hand, a backpack, and a brain that is trying to register every single detail to ensure it sinks pretty deep inside her heart.

She talked to Rome as she walked. She sang to her too, she recounted all the stories and tales she has imagined to have experienced between the streets of the city.  She also told Rome about its aging sister Cairo; the resemblance between both of them was unbelievable, except that beside Rome, Cairo looked very old and senile. Nevertheless, for eyes that could see beneath the superficial, there is something that testifies to ancient beauty. Cairo seems to have given up on life, while Rome as throughout all of its history, is still hanging on playfully to life. That’s why she had felt home all along, this was like being in Cairo when it was still young, bright, cheerful and hopeful.

The road up to the VaticanThe day was full of tours across the Vatican dome and museums, the fantastic streets leading up to it, with the most hospitable sweet Italians stopping her on the way to chit chat or flirt or offer their services. Even non-Italians seemed to pick up their sociability as well. As they queued up to get into the Vatican, tourists around her were very supportive offering help with taking pictures, thoughts, and artistic analysis.

The loveliest thing about Roma is the fact that everyone in Roma becomes part of Roma. Doesn’t make any sense, right?

Once you step foot in Rome, you integrate with the beautiful image; the experience of living like the Romans. Everything in Rome strives to keep its special historical atmosphere. The smell of the past rises with pasta sauces to hang in the air, it is spread and circulated over the tunes of the decorative chiming of the cathedrals’ bells. The way Italians and specifically Romans talk to you, the way they decorate their shops, or the way they handle every tiny detail of their day, complements the romantic perception all of us have of Rome in specific and Italy in general.

One has no choice but to  melt with the colors of the picture; act like the people in it, dress like them, walk the way they walk, sing the way they sing, linger over the sunshine the way they linger, smile like them when it rains, use one’s hands to emphasize, or even get angry the way they do, remember the saying: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, that’s absolutely true.

Tourists around Piazza Del Venezia

Tourists around Piazza Del Venezia

She tried for a couple of days to just walk around in her tourist shabby clothes, but she couldn’t. Italiane ladies make it hard not to dress up when walking around. Dressing up in Rome has a completely different aspect. You are not doing it to stand out or for the attention, you are doing it because the whole set up is so beautiful, you don’t want to distort it.

When she returned to the hotel on her first night, she saw posters all around with the picture of the nice guy she met earlier. The poster said he was an image consultant and a personal shopper too. She saw him sitting before a computer beside the reception desk, when she walked in around 9:00 pm (life stops in central Rome with sunset- literally the only outlets that remain open are restaurants for dinner and cinemas).

–  “Hey,”

She looked a bit puzzled seeing him behind the desk and on the poster she was holding in her hands. He realized she was confused so he said in his tantalizing Italian accent:

– “Ah, yes. I am the concierge for the hotel, but I also provide these two services to our guests and their friends.”

He smiled, looking her up and down, probably wondering how come she could look so clean after the scandalous image he saw in the morning.

– “Ah, I see. Nice!”

Silence. She decides to head to her room.

– “My shift is over now, would you like to join me for a drink in the hotel restaurant? It’s our happy hour.”

– “Thanks, but I don’t drink,”

He moved around the desk and started walking towards her. And as if she didn’t just decline his offer, he was guiding her towards the restaurant. He asked:

– “Oh, really. Where are you from?”

– “Egypt, but I don’t live there- I live in Qatar, not sure if you’ve heard about it.”

– “Of course, I have been to Dubai once for a business venture but it didn’t work out- I am quite familiar with the Middle East. But you don’t look Egyptian at all”

They were now seated on a nice table by the window. This street looks as charming by night as in the morning. Will she ever stop drooling over Rome?

– “Am not sure if that is a complement,” she laughed

– “No, I don’t mean anything. I know lots of Egyptians and they are all very nice. You just don’t look the way they usually do, your features are more Mediterranean.”

– “Well, thank you… I guess!”

A moment of silence as he got himself a drink, she asked for orange juice.

– “Well, I am only here in Rome for four days, one of them is already gone. I want to still get to enjoy the artistic and historic side of the city tomorrow, which will not leave me much time to enjoy modern and shopping Rome. So I was wondering if you could assist me with my shopping escapade especially that am on a tight budget too,” she said.

–  “ Sure- we could do it anytime you like. I can take you to some nice shops that will give you the Italian experience you are looking for and you won’t have to pay as much.”

–  “Excellent- how much will you charge me?”

–  “Nothing,” he smiled.

–  “Nope- I have to pay for your time.”

–  “We will discuss it later then.”

– “OK!”

Her stomach was twisting, she didn’t eat anything since her early lunch. She has to go

Her first Spaghetti in Rome

Her first Spaghetti in Rome

out and start looking for a nice spaghetteria somewhere close by.

– “Alright, I have to go now. I need to go eat something. It has been a very long day.”

– “Great- I haven’t had dinner too. Let’s go get some pasta or pizza.”

Hell, yeah. Why not! She has been alone enough for the past week or so. She can use some company, plus the streets are really empty now and she will be sort of worried to go wandering on her own.

___

The second day was all about running around the streets of Rome, inhaling as much as she can of its beauty. She met up with a British student who had just checked in at the hotel and who was waiting for his friend to arrive. They were on a European train tour, and he wasn’t sure how to get to the Vatican. They got to know each other as she showed him the way to this part of Rome, which has grown quickly to be her favorite.

The boy actually studies science, yet he had a good taste for art and history too. She found that pretty interesting. Ever since she set foot in Italy, and whether in Trieste, Venice or Rome, the one thought that struck her was how the Italian renaissance was actually a celebration of the marriage between science and art.

Art and Engineering

Art and Engineering

When sciences have breakthroughs they find a way for artistic manifestation. The ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and the older Muslim Scholars all had one thing in common; they mastered science and arts. Never once was a field looked down upon by the other or disregarded. To think how we kill art in our science students by shutting them off the beauty of words and the voice of an expressive paint brush or any other literary field, disgusts her. And to isolate our artists from the science world projecting it as the world for the strict and cold at heart, freaks her out.

That day, she marveled at the Colosseum, the surrounding Roman forums and temples, the basilicas along the way, the gardens, the roman statues watching over the ancient city, the Pantheon, and lots and lots of museums. Other than Luxor, she couldn’t think of any city that has as much monuments and ancient history scattered around it’s corners as Rome does.

ColosseumFontana di Trevi

Beside the  Colosseum, she was looking for a miniature of the building for her husband. She stopped at one of the stalls, then from the other side she saw this sleek well-built man coming close:

– “Buongiorno!”

– “Buongiorno!”

– “Can I help youuu, signora?”

– “Yes, please. How much are these small Colosseums?”

– “10 Euros.”

– “What?” she said in a tone that shows dissatisfaction with the price.

– “Alright? I will give it to you for 5, if you accept to have dinner with me tonight?”

–  “What?” she said in a tone that shows confusion about such a blunt offer.

The guy looked super handsome and he was super serious. He doesn’t even know her and he is already inviting her to dinner. Is that how they do it in Europe? She wasn’t sure if she should feel offended and make a big deal out of it, or just laugh it off.

–  “Is that the only word you know?”

–  “No thanks, I can’t.”

He smiled.

– “Why? You are in Rome, you don’t want to make new friends in Rome?

She laughed.

– “No thanks. I just want to take the Colosseum and then travel back to my husband and kids.”

It was his turn to laugh.

– “Chill, it will be just two friends having dinner.”

God- people around the stall were beginning to stare, they want to see the girl the guy is trying to convince into an out-of-the-blue dinner. It was embarrassing.

– “Listen, here is the Colosseum for 5 euros. I will wait for you here tonight at 8:00 pm. I don’t want your number or anything. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

Putting on a charming smile, he handed over the artifact to her. She smiled back, muttering a shy Grazie under her breath. What was that?! It felt like some scene from a Narrow streetsmovie. She started laughing as she turned her back. Rome was all set to give her the experience full blast, and damn it.. she just loved it. Not that she intends to meet the guy, but the attention is definitely good, all women like it whether they admit it or not.

__

The next day she met up early with Gabriele, the concierge and the personal shopper. As they walked down the streets that were leading to all the nice shops, he showed her around Piazza del Venezia, the Spanish Steps, Fontana di Trevi, and lots of other wonderful places; they were all part of Bella Roma.

DSC00563She had an amazing time, and bought some bargain stuff too. But sadness was around the corner. The next morning she will have to say goodbye to her ancient city and to the friends she made over such a short period of time.

Back at the hotel that night, she had to say goodbye to Gabriele. He wasn’t going to be at the hotel in the morning before she leaves.

–  “Well, I hope you had fun,” he said as he dropped the bags before her door.

– “It was great- Rome and Romans are captivating,” she said.

She was feeling uneasy under the pressure of the fact that she is going to be on a plane with her back to Italy tomorrow morning.

There was silence.

–  “Okay- I had fun too, it’s nice to always make new friends… from around the world.”

–   “Well, whenever you pop in Qatar, you have my number.”

–    “Sure,”

Was there sadness in his eyes too? Of course not, she is just romanticizing the entire experience.

Gabriele left, and she was wide awake and alone with her luggage. It was time for packing. SpaghetteriaShe looked out of the window; the street was sparkling with dim lights beaming out of the tall old lamp posts. She could see light coming out of some windows in the building before her. Voices in Italian laughing, shouting “Bouna sera” over kisses and clicks of wine glasses mixed with the smell of marinara sauces and fresh baking. It was so warm and so unfair; she was born to live here.

__

She hardly slept. She woke up quite early in the morning. One more place to pay homage View from top of Castello di St. Angeloto before she goes;  Castello di St. Angelo. It was truly the best saved for last. For what is better than an aerial view of all of Rome to end her trip with. Climbing all the way up to the top of the Castle, she gasped at the view unfolding before her. She sprayed the city with her kisses, virtually hugging its colorful rooftops, statues, river, people, mini cars, vespas, churches, and greenery. In few hours, all of this will be just a memory, a dream, a wish that she will cast once more upon the stars.

She wish she could flow freely with the waters

She wish she could flow freely with the waters

Outside the castle, the pontes (bridges) spread to connect this protective building with the hustling and bustling life across the Tiber. She strolled lazily across one of them, and she stopped halfway wishing she could flow freely over the running waters beneath her.

And so, right in the middle of the ponte, she sat down and wept!

 

 

By the ponte, she sat down and wept!

By the ponte, she sat down and wept!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The F.A.I.L Message

The word pops out of the screen hitting her in the face, right between her eyes. Her insides are clutching, cutting communication routes between any Oxygen and her head. She feels dizzy.

She lays her head on the palms of her hands, closes her eyes trying to shut off the four letters that have just reinforced her worst fears. They are still flashing boldly on the inner sides of her eyelids.

Inhaling a deep breath to calm down, a sharp trace of pain rises in the middle of her chest. “Oh, God! Relax. It’s just a paper!”

Voices from so many years ago, bang in her head:

–  “So, do you think you are graduating with first class honors because you’ve been studying in a private university? I mean, do you think you would’ve been as successful if you were studying in one of the real public renowned universities?!”

– “You’ve always been like this. Once you face the real challenge, you either back out or lose your enthusiasm. Grow up!”

– “I want to see you for once start something and finish it.”

– “I’d say you focus on one thing that matches your capabilities and stick to it. Don’t be too ambitious”

– “What do you want really? Just ensuring your life is full of drama even if there is no reason for it to be.”

– “It’s OK, dear. Our families are full of talented people. But we’ve all failed to make good use of them.”

– “You definitely have a talent, but you need to work on it.”

– “You are a great person to be with. But you are too strong for me. You are too successful I think, we are not suitable for each other!”

– “You are not as good as you think you are.”

– “I definitely enjoy being with you, but that’s not enough to be counted as love. Am sorry!”

– “You are always in the middle, you need to have a clear cut stance!”

The words resonate over and over.. again, shoving her to one corner of the room. They were all trying to tell her she is a failure. Some did it boldy, spitting the words right into her artworks-000054147434-lelkx1-originalface, others did it diplomatically, while her closest among them tried to offer her sympathy by demonstrating examples of other failures. What hurts her the most is that she doesn’t have any evidence to prove them wrong.

May be; may be… they have been right all along… may be she wasn’t born to be a star or a shooting star or anything… maybe she is just another one.. in the crowd! May be her small fingers is not going to change the world; their prints won’t be noticed on history’s wall of fame!

May be she is born to be forever teased by a mediocre talent.

From a very far distance, she hears the voice of her son screaming out  an imperative: “Mommmyyyyy, come here!”

Yes, dear!

She looks one more time at the word “Fail” stamped on the research paper she submitted few days ago in an attempt to run after her dream one more time that could be the last too…

She pulls the laptop screen down, rises to her feet, and goes to answer the calls of her now-crying-boy!

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