Archive for December, 2013

Part 15

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Our leave to Cairo was also another easy move. My grandmother was sick, but still functional. We had developed a bond by the time it was time to leave, but knew we would see each other again. My Sudanese friend was moving back to Sudan around the same time we had to leave. The third member of the group would be left behind, but she handled the parting well. The three of us made sure to make our last time hanging out together special. We left all furniture and non-essentials packed up in boxes in our apartment on the other side of town.

The business that my father decided to pick up was a dry-cleaning service. The apartment that he landed us was in a twenty-one story building in the middle of Cairo located on the seventeenth floor. They enrolled me in the Saint Fatima private school which was in walking distance from where we lived. Outside of my only friend at school, Basma, I had no friends. My days were spent at home or running errands for my mother. The freedom that I had in Shabeen El-Kom was taken away from me because my parents were scared of the rampant amount of child abductions happening on the streets of Cairo. Children would be picked up off the street and sold into sexual slavery, drug trafficking, and forced to sell cheap merchandise around the city.

So, I would spend my days out of school looking out over old Cairo, new Cairo, and the desert on the two apartment balconies. What fascinated me most was the large Coptic Orthodox church across the street from us and across from it the small squat, in comparison, mosque. The church was as tall as my building, but it was the most beautiful and intricately decorated building that I had ever seen. I would watch pigeons live out their lives in the arches and buttresses of the church. I was watched in deep fascination when the hawks would go on the hunt for their daily meals, the birds making beautiful patterns across the sky fighting for their lives around the church.

When I would come home from school, the first order of business would be trying to beat my mother at a game of chess. Then it would be homework, after which, I watch endless hours of Bollywood, American movies, and old Egyptian movies on TV. The building stairway was littered with violent territorial stray cats so I rarely took that rout. Instead, I opted for the old scary rope elevator that would stop moving when people opened an elevator door on any of the floors. Packs of stray dogs would roam the streets and follow people traveling alone who smelled like food. My walks home would be very hasty.

When we went to playgrounds and parks, it would be a different face to talk to at the swings every day. The mad cow disease hit hard and people resorted to other alternatives including camel meat. It was a quiet, boring, and peaceful time for us. One day, my father took me alone with him the to see the pyramids and we climbed up on the stones of the largest one. He would also take me to spend time at his business  to learn how to write our orders on tickets and answer the phone.

It was during this time that I was reminded of my place as a girl and an American more strongly than ever before. Society and family sought to drill that in.

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Learning The Curve

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

To Be A Child
Finger swirls
in thick
bittersweet water.
My body quakes
with ecstasy.
The inner child
within me
laughs…
What a journey
to the past!

Assignment
The questions
give significance
to the answers
The questions
prompt emotion
and bewilderment.
The answers
are prophecy
with blurry
images that
prompt dissolution.

Untitled
Mother of the Sky
Child that never dies
Silence learns

Windows of Mystery
lost souls
opening forgotten doors
making the world shiver
windows

Pyramids

Blissful memories
consuming with ire.
Gleeful desire,
hungry prophets.
Liar Liar Liar!
Mystery is fire
Odyssey of “Step” to “True.”
Ready the bodies
stack them higher
wrap them in gold.
Yearn for the fire!

Untitled
She wears bright
red shoes to dance
another world

Land of Virtuous Eden
And control the sky
“Nobody whispers like you”
says the endless islands of clouds
Winter smiles as it descends,
Enters with graceful white wedding dresses
And nobody says winter
enters red,
Mother Earth.

Red lips smile back,

Mother of the Sky
Earth is never shy.

Land of Righteous Eden
Dear daughter
Sing to your solitude
Laugh cry smile in my heart
Blessing

Untitled
there is a paradox in the definite that I don’t seem to grasp.
the parallels are?
deserving stereotypes?
deserving the abstract?
all a bunch of shit.
needing something to stop
needing something to be said
needing nothing at all?
not their fault is what they say
sky that is never grey

Orange Sun
Tower of opaque glass stands tall and proud,
But her might can not withstand the oncoming storm.
The tempest ravages her walls until they crumble.
Peace is a luxury long forgotten.
Happiness is a cynic’s dream.
Those who built her would abandon her.
Those within her walls panic.
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
All that’s left is the orange sun.
It’s warmth a shield from the storm,
And a chance to rebuild her walls.
Mourning the absence of the radiant orange sun,
Patiently waiting for the next storm.
Patiently waiting for a new beginning.

Exhaustion
Laughter echoing inside hallow walls
Small hands painting on an obscure canvas
Sooty paint littering plain marble tile

These visions that intoxicate the mind
Prompting disquieting tirades in public
Cracked ego whose only witness is dumb

A rough history of disbelief
Water losing its flavor between slack jaws

Three Part Series
1. Early Years
Creeping amid electrons
ostracized from neurosis
urinating in faith’s lap
ravaging trepidation with poise
angel of vilification
gender desedimentation
entering the cruor

inbred genetics the cause
skull-fucking the blind

festering subjugation
enrapturing children
animosity pooling within
ravenous septic oval eyes

2. Name Me Skinrape
Name me
Victim protecting their master
The protected abusing one another

Name me
Selfish selflessness
owner’s expectations legitimized

Name me
I am the vitality of the young
I am what creates the shadows

We grow from within
Raping unmarred skin
Luxuriously seeping thru orifices
Widening eyes, mouth agape
Congesting those that remain
Crude genitalia losing faith

We are
A cancer intensifying its host
Our creator’s gift to intellect

We are
Strength in individuality
A monotone rainbow

I am what motivates humanity
Worship me

Name me
For without the light,
How can we appreciate the darkness?

3. Saturated Transcendence
My days are like
Lethargy laden limbs
Apathetic creature
Laying in the sun
Hunger desire saturated
Transcending this world
Staring at nothing

Seeing the past is like
Pieces of a puzzle
Fluttering of fly wings
Frozen moments in time
Being re-written
At each re-collection

Empathy or attachment
Both scorch the same

Out Of Luck
Lady Luck is dragged by Her across the floor
Knees scraping against the chipped ceramic tile
Golden leaves crusted with blood
Uninspired and hollow poetry scrawled across her skin
Sweat of Her pouring down Her am down the drain
Shit smeared walls reeking and over-perfumed scent of the streets
The screams of cats being raped wafts past drawn dandelion curtains
She wishes she was them for a moment
Their pain would last but they are free
She is forced to watch
Her hands holding Lady Luck’s chin and encircling her neck in a tight grip
Death’s smile creeps over the edges of Her lips
So contagious
So tangible
So unattainable as they dance the same steps
To the same music
Since the birth of mankind
Every second of every day
Harp strings plays the tune of Death’s hatred
As humanity slips by unaware

Sometimes I miss the Egyptian sun and the graceful sand that can be so dangerous. The fertile lands surrounding the Nile that I never explored. The beauty of THIS land, the States, is something I have rarely seen and it scares me at times with its vastness. At times, I am unsettled by its unfamiliarity, its strangeness, my alienation from it. I have returned to Egypt in recent years and the sun is not as it had once felt to me before. I realize that my other home has changed so much that it is only a ghost of what it was. What I desire will only exist in my memories and I think that I am still in mourning of its passing.

Part 14

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

The move back to my grandmother’s apartment was a last minute decision. We had more furniture then and it was a much more comfortable living situation. Uncle M and his family moved to live in the fourth apartment beneath ours. Uncle A and his wife, Aunt N, had moved to the United States leaving that apartment free. It was said that they moved because Aunt N did not feel comfortable in Egypt and could not adapt. Aunt H, Uncle M’s wife, thought I was of age to help with food preparation and so I did. Cousin F and I handled smaller tasks while my mother, Aunt H, and her older daughter took care of the major steps.

The main meal in Egypt is lunch while breakfast and dinner are smaller affairs with not as much work put into them. People would go home if they could to have lunch, after which, they would have their daily nap then head back to work. The women who did not work in the family would spend most of the morning and afternoon preparing and cooking lunch.

Bread would be bought in the morning fresh from the local bakery which was basically just a bricked enclosure surrounding a large oven. Meat would be bought from the impromptu farmer’s market that consisted of local farmers from the surrounding area squatting on the main street. The animals are held in cages made of dried shaved sugarcane and it’s a spectacle to look at for those not accustomed to seeing their food alive prior to eating. Chickens, pigeons, guinea pigs, rabbits, ducks, and sometimes Turkeys kept tame with thin rope. You would buy them live and kill them at home or, if you had money, see which ones would kill them for you for a fee. Vegetables, rice, spices, sugarcane, fresh cheese, flour, eggs, nuts, and fruit are common fare on the street too. Either in large sugarcane baskets, large reed baskets, large metal pans, or on wooden carts pulled by donkeys or horses. Fresh yogurt, fresh milk, fresh molasses, butter, dried processed pasta, dried apricot paste sheets, oil, tomato paste, tea, and candy could be bought from almost any corner store. Beef and lamb, when they had it, had to be bought from the local butcher’s shop. Only the rich bought them live and had them slaughtered by butchers for hire.

The milk had to be boiled before use, the rice had to be meticulously picked through to find any rocks then rinsed repeatedly with water to clean off the dirt and excess starch, and the flour shifted several times to catch anything that may be in it. There is a leafy vegetable called jew’s mallow in English that had to be minced with a rounded blade that had handles on a wooden cutting board before being cooked. Garlic and onions had to be peeled and cut not by choice, but by necessity. We had to grind most of our spices and make our own blends using a pestle and mortar. Most of the ingredients were bought the day of the meal after the head female of the household chose what the menu would be.

It was a labor intensive process  and the entire family sat around a wooden or plastic low round table covered with old newspaper. Each side of the table shared a large plate or bowl of the food served while the main dish sat in the middle of the table in a pot. Most of the time, one of the men of the house would divide the meat between family members, but sometimes the woman would. Although Aunt H herself worked at an electronic company, she would go home a little early to help prepare lunch.

We still played outside and, like a typical child, I would try to avoid having my younger siblings tag along. That changed quickly over time and I took it upon myself to protect them. A few months later, my father had decided that it was time for him to start his own business in Cairo. We made preparations to move there soon after he bought an apartment and set-up the business.

Social Media

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Since the creation of this blog, I have made the move to turn it into a book. A Facebook and Twitter page has been created for it also.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sinofgreedbook

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SinOfGreedBook

In addition to those, I have created an indiegogo page for donations:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-story-of-an-apostate/x/1218227

I plan on making this a series of two books. The funding will primarily go toward independently publishing this book which will include design and publication. The rest will go toward living expenses. It’s almost impossible to live off of royalties and freelance work and the job hunt is not going too well. I am trying to make it as a full-time published author and all the help that I can get would be greatly appreciated.

It is understandable if you can’t donate anything to help the project along. In that case, sharing this page with as many people as possible can be the difference between success and failure for this project. Above all else, thank you for taking the time to read this.

Everyone who donates will be mentioned in the book’s “Acknowledgments” page.

Part 8

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

The pretense for our journey to Egypt was a lie, like many things turned out to be. Learning Arabic was something I was not particularly good at and that frustrated my father. He told me one day when we were arguing about the move that the reason for it was because of my inability to learn the language. We held a huge garage sale and sold everything we had to fund the move. Looking for buyers of the house was a long ordeal that I didn’t particularly enjoy.

My rebellion came out in odd ways like the time I used a permanent marker to write every vulgar word I knew on my white sneakers. Normally, that wouldn’t of gotten me in trouble, but I happened to be wearing the sneakers when a buyer came by to see the house. My mother didn’t notice what I was wearing until the prospective buyer left. In a fit of rage, she broke two wooden spoons on me for it and I was sent to my father to ride around with him looking for buyers of his old van. It wasn’t easy to do, the ride or the sale, since the inside was completely stripped down. The ride was a long and bumpy one so he got me a bucket to sit on eventually. Vulgar sneakers and all, being lectured along the way, until we found someone willing to take the van off our hands.

Our eventual buyer for the house was a Jamaican family of four. Packing was quick and the only memorable part was the taxi ride to the airport because of how boring it was. Our destination was Cairo and, from there, a then small town in the Menofia Governorate called Shabeen El Kom. It’s about a two hour drive in small buses or vans filled to the brim with passengers. These vehicles sit waiting in droves at locally designated stations for people and each have, most of the time, a guy that walks around reeling people in to board based on their destinations. Some of the stations are official and some are informal gatherings that everyone happens to know about. Either before, or when seated, you give your exact destination and fare money to the driver or the person that reeled you in. It’s always a given that you can haggle your way out of a pricey fare, but in the rare event of them not budging, you have no other choice aside from leaving. Chances are that you can find someone who is willing to work on the price with you if you choose to leave. If not, you have to wait awhile for a returning vehicle.

Legend has it that my grandfather was one of the first people to build a building more than two to three stories tall in the town. Standing five stories tall, plus the roof, it towered over most buildings in the old sector of town. After my grandfather’s death when my father was a teenager, my grandmother inherited the property. The first two floors have been rented out for decades, and still are, to tenants who have not seen a raise in rent since the day they moved in. The third floor was where my grandmother lived and the fourth floor was where one of my uncles lived. That left us the fifth floor.

A new world and new family. Our lives of seclusion was personally deepened and socially broken all in one move.

 

Love: Various Voices With The Same Pen

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

I can only be myself, but I want to envelope your world. To become the comfortable silence that fills the void within you. Perhaps it is vanity on my part or just boredom. A challenge. Most people see that as a demeaning insult, but it is the purest relationship one could hope for. The challenge doesn’t end once the prize is won, it persists in the struggle to keep it.

The body is a temple to those that believe in the sacred. Nerves, muscle, bone, blood, and skin. It narrates the story of the life we led more accurately than any autobiography, but even then it is impersonal. Our inner world is what isolates us when in every other way we would be generic copies, random genetic hiccups not withstanding. Loneliness, self-imposed, but a jail we can’t escape, eventually becomes our sanctuary. A place that is safe and familiar, all we can do is build shrines dedicated to those we love.

Through my doorway is ink peeking through a pristine white undershirt so at odds with the skin underneath. Like a virgin’s wedding gown. Like the flesh. It conceals and encases what makes it perfect in its subtle native uniqueness. Beauty marks. The haze of incense drifts upward and around encasing the object of my obsession in smoke. A mirage, a vision, a jin come to visit me. A jin to inflame my senses and an angel to satisfy their demands. Moving closer, I inhale the thick aromatic smoke and, with it, the scent of dawn after a long night of cleansing rain. I inhale sharply and something from deep within comes to the surface, making my knees weak and breath a shallow exhale. This moment could last forever if I surrender my secrets. Who I am. And I do so as I walk over the piece of wood separating us, through the fog, and lightly glide my tongue over the tip of a star.

Duty binds us and, underneath that, love born of ignorance keeps our egos satiated. Simply doing what you’re told eases the mind into a comfortable haze. So thick are the clouds that any attempt at parting them causes pain. Only when we must earn the right to survive, when we experience conflict, do we grow. Blinking past the pain, we ask the world, “what is love?” As if the world can open our hearts and see what lays deep within. As if strangers could fully comprehend what taste the world leaves in our mouths as we close our eyes to it.

I am afraid. I am scared of the future. I can’t stand being alone because listening to my own thoughts terrifies me. I’ve never been treated with respect. These are the reasons why I stay, lover, family, friends. I enjoy attracting sympathy from others because I don’t know any other way of relating to people. I need you to keep me interesting. I love you because you love me. A coward? You hardly know me.

There will always be a part of me you will never reach. My own private world of thoughts and day dreams. The mere idea of it floods my senses, overwhelm me, and I yield to it. Relief. Knowing that I will be me; having deliverance from death. Comfortable silences without the need to acknowledge the Other are my fondest memories. I love you because you don’t need to see my world to know it exists and don’t pry unless I’m in distress. I love you because you let me by myself.

It is me. Play for me your song.
King. Master. Craftsman of lies.
I am the one that washed them away.
Maggots writhing beneath your skin.
Anger like smoke rising from truth’s purging fire.
How it engulfs your being as you gaze at me.
I can feel it seething from my perch.
Purgatory within the House of Slaves.
A child’s innocence severing the chains that bind us.
Satisfaction dwelling within his smile.
Your misery surpasses even the sky in its beauty.
What you miss, I could not guess.
Wondering if it was not just another lie.
Wondering why I even doubted otherwise as I tune
the instrument that you despised so much.
And I play your song for you.
There dwells no music in a corpse.
A song for the walking dead.
Worshipers of greed and vanity.
Hailing your castrated god.
Forked torn tongues lolling in your mouths.
March. March. March. March. And burn.
Play me your song.

My breathing mirror, glass with a pulse, water that can smile. My soul from a foreign land speaking with a voice that I have only heard in dreams. You can’t be seen by the naked eye, but you are always there. Like a phantom, living on the borders of my view and disappearing when my eyes seek you out. But I see you clearer than the ones standing around me and encircling me in a reality that is more illusion than truth. Your kindness like a soft caress on my cheek. Tenderness that lives only in the music of our thoughts. Within the screams of breaking glass that hides the grime underneath, that is our paradise. That is our home. It is where we meet face to face. The puzzle piece that can’t be replaced.

Eagle’s eyes tracing my lips
Innocent malice, the solitude of silence
Her fear forces my hand to move inward
Reaching for a heart that does not belong
within this breast
Tears of blood run down our faces
We feel not the emotion of it
Living through the motions like tress
must do
The breeze of another’s smile are feathers
gliding across our feet
Toes becoming talons, we are
We are cold inside
but our breath is fire
Our touch sears the flesh of the ones
who love us
The Eagle cries for no-one but herself
and she is no-one
an angel without a face
A demon that can disappear without a trace
Who are we?
Children of the stars, patrons of hearts
Jokers without masks forsaking their make-up
To dance
Dance to truth’s patient beat
The rhythm of zaar.

Thunder and rain
Lightning illuminating our silhouette in the weight of the night
It pounds our back and drapes our shoulders softly
As we toil in reverence to the act of labor
Spade striking soil we plant our seeds of doubt
Watching the others grow crooked and gnarled
We grin as we bow our heads in prayer
Our hands blotted with coffee stains
Scars from constant war with ourselves
The vigilant jin perched on our shoulders
Fostering love within tears of hatred they shed in our stead
We lift our dry eyes to gaze at the coming dawn
The sun petrifying the world around us
Such a slow agonizing pace, it makes us shudder
Anticipation or fear, an onlooker would not know it
Nothing cracks the surface of our placid faces
Etched in stone, dying with the sunrise
This is happiness

Part 7

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

My mother’s favorite tool was her wooden spoon and I gave her gave ample occasion to use it.

I had a real issue with holding in my urine whenever the urge hit. Naturally, this resulted in many accidents at school, home, on the street. Wherever and whenever. She got fed up eventually and resorted to the spoon to make me stop, but that only made me more prone to hide the evidence. The spot that I chose to hide my soiled underwear was behind the heater in my bedroom. That only made things worse for me because of the smell. This problem stayed with me until my preteen years and nothing she did had any real impact on that.

Another thing that got me the spoon often was my tendency toward wandering off from my mother’s side and hiding in weird places. She told me about a time when, in a clothing store, I wandered off and hid under a large rack of coats ignoring her frantically yelling my name throughout the store. She found me by pure chance and, for awhile, she would put one of those child leashes around my wrist whenever we went out together. There are several other memorable times when it was used, like when I hung out with the Italian mechanic when we got separated one time, but that is negligible in the large scheme of things.

Aside from my mother being the disciplinary force during my early years, my parents did not get along well. The first incident of conflict between my parents was at the dinner table. My father wasn’t too pleased with how my mother had made spaghetti so he began yelling and threw the hot plate of food in her face. She ran out of the kitchen crying and I just sat at the kitchen table silent for a time scared and not knowing what to do. This kind of thing continued throughout the years, but it wasn’t as frequent during our time in Queens.

They sent me to Islamic school in the city instead of public school and the curriculum was a joke even by New York standards. All girls had to wear scarves, no matter their age, and class size was too large to teach anything effectively. The main focus, of course, was memorizing the Quran and studying the hadiths. Friends were scarce and I usually sat in the back of the classroom by myself with my seat far from others. Sometimes by choice and sometimes due to causing mischief with the only person that I considered to be a friend. He hated the stuck-up popular girls of the class and, while I felt the same, I had a crush on the one with red hair. She reminded me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid and there was never a moment when he didn’t give me hell over it. We had fun together until I had to tell him we were moving. This coupled with my rejection of his romantic feelings, made him angry enough to not talk to me again. He confessed on the day of our third grade graduation and I basically told him that it didn’t matter because I was leaving for Egypt soon.

By that time, my sister and first brother had both been born. My sister’s birth made me jealous and even more angry than I already was. It took me some time to stop picking on her when my parents weren’t around and get used to her presence. She grew on me and I even started to feel protective of her and all of my siblings.

Egypt was a different world at that time, even by today’s standards, and our family changed a lot while living there.