Monday, December 13, 2010

Now a Mother

It’s that hideous hospital odor. It makes my heart race. I feel faint. There is also that metallic aluminum smell. When will it be over? Sweat and pain. It’s endless. I smell everyone’s agitation. The nurses smell horrid, even my own perspiration stenches. I don’t want anyone to touch me. I am scared and tired. When will it be over? I hate the starchy sanitized towel they give me to wipe my face with. I am screaming so loud because of the pain. I never knew my voice could be so irritatingly shrill. I am surrounded now by strangers. I can taste a nauseating smell, I cannot escape it, and it’s coming from me. It’s my body straining, changing and transforming. I am no longer a girl, I have transformed. I am now a mother.

Home for the elderly

She awoke each day to the same nauseating smells. Every odor seemed to be the same combination of old, musty and stale. It was like rising from bed in the middle of a bowl of sour milk. She already felt like a corpse. Her body had become unfamiliar, frail, and hunched. She could hear her cryptic steps. Even her breaths didn’t sound or smell the same; they were wheezes and acidic gasps of a person being forgotten.
Everything around her offended her. All her familiar surroundings had vanished, leaving her miserable in this sterile incarceration of the elderly. The smell of death permeated the air. One by one the population of the prison decreased. Yet replacements arrived of new aging hopeless inmates adding to the chemical concoction of these walls. There was no longer the wondering of what tomorrow will bring because she knew it would be the same putrid, intoxicating smells.
The smell that kept her up most nights and the one she could never get rid of was the smell of unfulfillment, of a life spent in vain. A road not traveled, and one that will never be. It stank. It reeked. It came out of her body without permission and it was the most vile smell of all. She tried to wash it off, to cleanse herself but it stuck to her like a relentless shadow. She would bear it like she has tolerated all the other discomforts and now she would wait for death row.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Star

Standing there, she is untroubled by the gazing eyes and knows that this is common practice. She is so attractive. She stands fluttering her brightly colored feathers and waits for the opportune time to start her melodious entertainment. She has to wait until there are just enough souls gazing at her. She knows this will be the highlight of their day and she understands their inability to go through a day without her. She glides gracefully and gets her curvy figure in position. The anticipation of what will come depletes all the oxygen, and there is silence. She stretches her neck and the musical magic starts. Her exhilarating charming humor dazzles everyone. No one can deny her vivid vibrant art and everyone encourages her to maintain the performance. She cannot refuse them, they have come for her and she has existed for them.

Blind (Monologue)

Backdrop of a darkened sky, no lighting. Reduced spotlight on him. He is sitting on a park bench, his back to the sky. He is wearing classic outdated slacks with leather shoes, his shirt is tucked in and he is wearing a small vest.
Some tell me it's the most beautiful thing they've ever seen.
(Pause- looks out)

Others tell me, it's so mundane, they hardly notice it happened. They just realize it's time to turn on the lights.
(A light gets turned on from a nearby building)
Since, both these descriptions mean nothing; I rely on those who explain that they feel a chill run down their spine when it happens.
It's like a child who has been weaned from his mother's breast and no longer feels the security of her warmth.
The process is so frequent yet so magical and miraculous at the same time. It really makes us feel our insignificance.
(Throws a coin into the air in front of him)
The fact of the matter is that who lives, who dies, who laughs, who cries, who suffers, who yelps with joy, take her into their consideration. Their suffering is darkened by her absence and their happiness is magnified in her presence. She is dependable and versatile like clockwork and will never stop rising and setting.
(Pulls out the chain of an old pocket watch from his vest pocket)
I understand how we are only a dull speck in our galaxy, especially in comparison to her. She is the liveliest star. If the earth represents a grain of rice, then the sun is the size and taste of a watermelon. She is sweet, refreshing and pleasurable especially in summertime.
So, I realize how grandiose our universe is. And how I trivial I am. Yet I'm standing here, watching the sunset, waiting again to fill the void and to feel, hear, sense, touch what they tell me they see.
(Pulls out a small sculpture of Olivia from his pocket)
Olivia once told me that she saw all the shades of purple, orange and blue combined in her favorite sunset. That sight was so beautiful; she recorded it in her mind. So, whenever she feels overwhelmed by life, like so many of us do, she closes her eyes
(He then closes his eyes)
and feels the security of that beauty.
Of course, all I know about color is that it is a concept that humans have made to identify the different shades of the spectrum they see. For me, orange is tangy pigmented citrus with drops of juice trailing from her lips. Purple is sweet scented lavender perfume that is always on her nape. Blue is so humdrum like me that they have named our earth, the blue planet.
The lonely silence of the night without her is dreadful compared to the busy intensity of the daytime. I can hear the reassuring hustle and bustle of everyone I know, including her, going off to work, to school, rushing, pushing, shoving. Then, the magnification of the earth's music till it reaches the peak of the symphony, followed by the fading and the dying out of the instruments one by one.
These are worthy muted tones that accompany the sun setting.
At night, the silence of the moon and the darkness which is what I was born into.
It is daylight because I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, she touches me like a tender lover. Her departure is not so dramatic because her touch slowly fades, and I feel reassured that I will awake the next day to her glow. I have seen her beauty and I revel in it.

Thump

The thump was not feminine. It couldn't be. Could it?
She took another arduous awkward step towards her chair. She could not believe how cumbersome her movement had become. She was sticky and sweaty like summer humidity and felt like there was not enough air to breathe. Although it was wintertime or so she thought.
The ripples of extra flesh were spread out everywhere like an endless highway.
She had long ago lost her voluptuous figure. She could not remember when it had gone. It was almost as if it had been kidnapped. One day she gagged when she saw her reflection. She did not know how many years ago had passed since then, and did not want to find out. Now, mirrors were one of her biggest fears.
Her breath was a labored heaving. She was scared to use her voice because it was quiet, and feminine. It was the only thing that had survived all this time unhindered.
Her shadow was alien even to her. She did not feel like she had aged as much as was apparent on her face and her body. Yet she had.
She wanted to hold back her emotional clenching whimpers.
The dark room was nothing but shadows. She was a slave to its walls. They had witnessed it all and this petrified her. The old rustic creaking wood with each decrepit step recounted her story.
She trembled as she pulled herself toward the drawer where her box was located. She thanked God that it was locked. She tried to deter herself because of the knowledge of everything that will come with it. She was starting to be panic stricken at the idea that she might open the box. She couldn't control her irritating shaking whines.
She held the box still hesitating to open it. She was burdened with regret, it is so heavy. It's like constantly carrying your children while always having your feet in quicksand and never arriving at your destination. She wished she knew what would have happened if she hadn't made these choices. Would she have had different things to atone for?
Or would she have been where she needs to be or at least where she should be? Her life had been difficult but whose life hadn't been? She had solely supported her three siblings. It's not that she was given a choice, there were no alternatives. She was the eldest and the sacrifice had to be her life for theirs. This is what she was meant to do.
There were three souls on this planet who are better off because of her.....Actually, only two souls. Samir was now in his parents arms. She wished daily that she could join them. Yet she feared dying alone and wondered how long it would take for someone to realize that she had passed. Would the stench of her rotting body be the first sign? How long would that take? If she wasn't buried right away, would that mean she would not go to heaven? She would end up in an abyss, lost with all the other confined souls. She was haunted by these possibilities.
To dissuade this rational she picked up one of Tamer's family pictures which he sent twice a year. Behind it was her sister Samia's graduation photo from university. She had gotten married to her university colleague and they have been living for years in the Gulf. She was alone now with the movie of her life being constantly replayed in her mind. Her unspent tragic life was continuously stabbing her chest like a serial killer that could not satisfy his hunger. Her heart so strained from all these years of blistering strife.
She mustered all her energy and opened the box. Her eyes swelled immediately at his sight. He was so handsome, so elegant, so perfect. He was everything she ever wanted and she never knew that she could love so strongly. He was her elixir to youth and infinite happiness. Yet he wanted more than she could give. He wanted her for himself and for her siblings to take care of themselves. She couldn't bear not living up to the responsibility that God had given her. It was her choice. She chose them. They needed her to provide for them. She had become pent up to her situation. Forever entangled in fulfilling the hopes and dreams of others.
She had heard that he also had waited for her for many years unable to love someone else. Then, hopelessness had overtaken him like the vast ocean. If she had chosen differently. Would she have had now a life of her own? Would she have had children, a husband, maybe even grandchildren? Would she have aged better, remained beautiful, taken better care of herself? Would she have been happy?
The easy thing now would be to die. She has done her duty, She was no longer needed, so why should she still breathe? All these emotions and this doubting are exactly why she didn't want to open the box.
She strained her wobbly body and started praying. She pleaded God, to grant her the patience and the understanding to comprehend his will. She begged God to let her understand his purpose. She supplicated God to reassure her that she had made the right choices. Most of all she prayed with all her might that God switch off the voices in her head. Her pleas were continuous like the radio station and she eventually fell asleep on the prayer rugs amidst prayer, tears, and repentance.
Today was just another day in her life. She no longer counted nor did she know what day of the week it was, not even what year it was. It was a day like every other day in her life. Her only company were her thoughts and they were her nightmare.