I am trying so hard not to mock what is going on around me or to get angry. I try to analyze everything that is happening logically. So, I try to control the tone of my voice, look into the speaker’s eyes, and listen carefully to what he is saying. Isn’t this called tenderness? I think so, but in my head, some words make me think, “I don’t know why, but I don’t believe you. You are a liar. This is bullshit, but I am going to smile and nod my head. Yes, I am having fun. I hope you too.”
I comb my hair using my fingers, touching things on the table in front of me. I remember that I must write my name and my address for the café. I drink tea from my cup. I realize that I am a little bit unfocused, so I stop and tune back in. You are still talking. I nod my head twice. I forgot to send a message to my parents! Shit!
People recur frequently. People who show an interest in me and people who I show an interest in too. Reactions are also recurring, but my indifference is increasing.
There is a new game I would like to play. I stand up behind a glass pane, and there is a lot of stuff around me. If by coincidence, you happen to pass by, and if you dare, you can ask me to tell you a little bit about myself. Some of the stories I carry I will give to you. Some of them I will try to hide them behind my back. You are not stupid and afraid like me, so you will see that I am hiding something.
Is it my turn to talk now? All right! Where do I begin?
The First Story
I see my memories like a short movie in my imagination that repeats frequently. Every time I discover beautiful details that are stored inside of me. I would love to go back and embrace those around me for a longer time. I try to partition everything. I laugh at some of my foolish actions. I laugh at myself, and I find that everyone is who remembers those situations laughs with me.
I remember those who loved me, and who I couldn’t love back. I had the right to that. I believed I was madly in love with others, but I see now that my feelings were fake. Was I tricking myself or tricking them? Fortunately, they didn’t believe me either.
I remember other names and recognize that I loved them truly and that I should have loved them much more.
I go back, and I dig deeper. I remember people I’ve known who were like poison. I wish I could tear them up.
Every single person has his piece inside of me.
I open my booklist, and I see a lot of tacky books that I have read. I throw them all away.
The Second Story
Some old friends try to tell me stories about things we did together; I can’t retrieve them. I am astonished by their kindness to me. Were we that close? I don’t remember the details, but I did not intend to be as kind as I was at the time. Now I am happy that I was.
I feel thankful for those who were never mad at me, and whose actions weren’t aggressive towards me despite my childish attitude. Gratitude for all who didn’t remove me from their lives without justification, because I tend not to hurt others. It was my curiosity that was killing me and my fear of the unknown. I am thankful for everything and everyone that contained me because I now hold them inside of me. I am grateful for people who did not throw their anger in my face but laughed when I did something stupid. And even for the people who were mad at me, but then came back to me as if they were never gone.
The Third Story
In my absence, my parents moved into a new house. Every year I visit them, I feel like I am no longer at home, but rather like a guest. I ask myself if I came back to our old house, would I remember the details?
My mother asks me, “Do you remember your baccalaureate? When your physics teacher was over our house, he said one hundred and ten bombs were thrown in just an hour. How can your daughter study there?”
I find it hard to remember the sound of the bombs.
My mother laughs at me again and says, “Do you remember when you were home alone, and some of the militants were shooting in our neighborhood? That day you crawled on the ground until you reached the door, then you bell the rang of our neighbor. She let you in and offered you some tea.”
I scoff at my mother, saying, “I didn’t do that! I never crawled on the ground because I was afraid!”
The Fourth Story
I read a lot of bad news on Facebook. Rapes, fires, murders, crimes, diseases, libel. I feel so much hatred towards this spot of earth, then I go back to just feeling sad. I hope that nobody will be forced to live through this kind of suffering from the bottom of my heart. But for those now living through it, I pray that they will be strong enough to face it. Although they must live through these ugly experiences, I pray they can carry only love in their hearts.
The Fifth Story
Going to the cafe, the swimming pool, or to a dance was not for fun or companionship in my family. It was an act of rebellion. Here things are becoming simplified. I go to these places just to have fun. Is this childhood or maturity? I need to rescue myself from my past.
The Sixth Story
I found out a long time ago that my sense of hearing is so weak. I can hear, but sometimes I cannot perceive what is being said. As the number of people around me increases, it gets worse. I am often silent, and when I do comment, it is generally some meaningless remark. I am aware of that now, and I feel blood coming out of my ears.
The Seventh Story
A month ago, my friend died. It hit me like a blow on the memory. I felt sorry for everyone I knew, and I felt sad. This was the first time I felt I belonged to a group. I felt their sorrow. How many pleasant memories I shared with them. I have not been writing for a long time, and all those details that I had been missing rained down on me— dance parties, sleepless nights, laughing, their desire for happiness between the violence, and my will to say no.
I miss the chatter and good-natured jokes. I look now in some people´s eyes, and I see that they don´t recognize how much I love them. I laugh and feel overloaded. I hope that one day they can realize how much I loved them and their childish attitude.
The Eighth Story
The bombing in Beirut occurred one day before I graduated from university. My parents were fine, my friends were okay. But I am not okay! I am sorry I wasn’t there with you to hold you when it happened.
I read all the angry comments and insults on Facebook. We are a country that relished violence. Everyone wants to kill politicians. Seriously? Killing? More violence? How barbaric we are!
I am proud of my small achievements. I look at them now as one thing from many I have neglected.
I remember a lot of people who made me sad. I know they didn’t do it on purpose. I long to tell them that I am not angry with them, but I love them, and I feel sad that they couldn’t fight their own sadness or let the sorrow influence them to this extent.
Many days pass by, taken for granted. I hope that everyone can be brave to fight their fears and hatred they face.
The Ninth Story
I was today at a milonga. I didn’t want to dance in the final hours, and my partner didn’t want to dance with me either, but I decided to stay. Everybody around me was dancing, then they came to my table, chatted a little bit, and then left again. Many were asking why I was staying if I didn´t want to dance. Some of them were also trying to find an answer to convince themselves. Not everything matters. I won’t allow the sorrow to control me again. It is there. I know that very well. But I am not afraid of it.
Those who have been dancing, harmonizing, criticizing each other, if they only knew that a month ago, my friend had been killed in Damascus. He also used to love to tango.
The Tenth Story
When I met you, I had the feeling that I was greeting my memory; my soreness from it. All the prisons and words, the war, the university, all I´ve been running from. I see him now in front of me, fine, laughing, joking, dancing tango and practicing my favorite profession; writing.
I didn’t know if I wanted to hug him and tell him that we are okay or leave. Just as I left my hometown, my family, my university, my friends. It is my habit to leave everything.
Like an old wound, I was feeling you in my memory.
The eleventh story
I feel something heavy sitting on my chest. I am totally aware, but I cannot move, and I don’t want to open my eyes because fear fills me like a genie on my chest. I am not a believer, but I know some verses from the Quran. I repeat them inside me like I am trying to throw the devil out. There is someone in this room sitting on my chest. Climbing toward me like he is obsessed with me. Those feelings go on for countless seconds, but I know they will go away because this is not the first time. I feel the urge to cry. I return to feel my toes and fingers. I can move my hand. Yes, he is gone. I change my position of sleep. He is gone; there is no need to worry.
The Twelfth Story
I don’t want to trick myself. It isn’t the war, not my family, not my friends, and not my teachers. It is altogether, me against them, giving different reactions. How interesting what another person can do to you.
The Thirteenth Story
I have two different lives: one that I live and another one inside my mind. My mother used to fear that in my childhood, so she tried to snoop on my notebooks and drafts to learn more.
Literature is my real scandal. I fear that the people who know me find themselves between the margins of my words.