Archive for the ‘The Birth Of Apathy’ Category

Part C

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

His hands insecure and trembling knows that they expect him to finish the job. It’s always the same thing. Born a man and expected to carry everything the world has to offer with no complaints. Expected to stand with strength that he doesn’t have. The hatred he feels for himself lashes out to the world. Bitter and alone. Young and weak. Rotten before his time. Tired of the struggle so soon with nowhere to turn. Surrounded by loved ones that have no love to give. “It will end,” he says involuntarily. The words sliding past his lips, dripping down his chin, as he suffocates to death. His legs, numb and tingling, bang against all the shit he bought in his life to fill the void as his body sways with the tide of the wind. The corners of his mouth lift in a smile that belies the innocence of an inexperienced heart.

The Beatles wondered about those that embraced themselves and rejected the world. But what about those that accept neither? The truly alone. Where do they belong?

The oldest voodoo city in the New World. His home was the swamps where the women would tease the shackles of society with their freedom.

Raindrops fall and the silence beckons. Butterfly wings engulf the vision. Last breath drawn while he hides behind a smile. The nights drag on and he comes to her for her warmth and innconce. Without realizing. Without knowing. How his self-centered kindness and caution made her bloom. How his empty promises held her captive and how much he meant to her. How much his abscence filled her world with echoes of laughter faked behind a screen. The rain poured down slits of conrete being held fast by the hair of children lost within the whims of their parents. Smoldering flames between them char their skin littering the ground with ashes. Like ants pushed out of line, they wander, leaving behind the tyranny of existence. His boots crush their ashes beneath his smug gait and his wandering hands dismantles their hair from their entangled prison. The carefully stacked walls fall like carefully constructed truths whispered between lovers over torn cotton sheets covering a mattress pockmarked with cigarette burns. Faces worn with age peek in from musty curtains and so she is left to pick-up the pieces of her loneliness. The ultimate betrayal. The solace of lies.

The rain fell and washed away the years of polish. Over their eyes and trimmed nails. Under the sediment that is dragged along number fingertips. Showing off bullet wounds like medals on their sleeves. The only thing that they have to hold on to is pride to mask the weight of their sacrifice. Money slips through their fingers like it does the rest of us. No meaning in the rate race and survival is the only option. Coffee and cigarettes on a street corner avoiding eye contact. Connected by a mutual disdain for each other and the human condition. Women and their purses litter the pavement and streets. Men and their belts mill around behind newsstands and between brief cases that bulge with self-importance and dank resignation. Cigarette butts tumble from between the fingers of the homeless like…

Like the beat of boots against uneven concrete.
The soft sizzle of burning tobacco wrapped in thin paper.
Like the rustle of crows’ wings above the current of smoke.
Broken smiles hiding behind insincere eyes.
That creep between the cracks of our lives.
Brief silences surrounded by the cacophony of lies.
Whispers screaming the truth down greasy hair.
Past starched collars and torn jerseys all the same.

Beautiful how the silence makes their limbs sweat.

Part B

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Just as there is a fee for everything else in life, there is a fee for opening the gates to your heart. People do not see you. You are just a flutter of wings above their heads. They will destroy you. They want nothing more than to destroy who you are. They will break you in every way. They want nothing more than to break your will and create an obedient slave. You think it’s a joke. That it can never happen to you. You toss your hair and laugh while bowing down to the same master who hides behind a smile and soft hands. Until, one day, the truth will beat you down. Your body violated and no longer your own. When you can hardly think straight, they will hammer at your mind. Every insecurity and fear will be magnified and confirmed to be true. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Your isolation and loneliness will be absolute. They will become your world. The entirety of your existence bending to their will. So, what will you do then, proud one, gaudy one, “strong” one. Oh, but it’s your fault, isn’t it? You allowed this to happen. Isn’t that what you said about the others? Yes, that was before they broke you. That was before you became a doll.

Walls of green surround us as we travel and into the moon we fall. Every detail sharp and as crisp as the weeds rustling in the wind. Her fingers trembled as she clutched her cigarette. Her past and present tumbled from her lips. Her words tripping over one another, but why?  Faster and faster as Father Time drags his hands down her thighs. Our faces become our masks as we dance to the ramblings of ghosts.  My heart reborn as a Ruby embedded in a fallen angel’s chest. I, the demons and I, stain her soul with paint richer than blood. The grinning moon graces innocence with pain.

She came to me dressed in sheets of white cotton. A pearl necklace around her neck. Eyes full of hope and desire. I sold her out to the Demon limping with his lacquered cane. Preaching to me about God and his angels in a cemetery surrounded by statues of Mary piously staring down at us in prayer. He came to us, lies tumbling through his loose lips and eyes cold with hatred. Would I be lying to say that I did not know what he would do? To save myself, I saved her. She left as she came, with blood stained feet and a broken heart. Our shared trauma fragmented in her mind until the day she dies.

Part A

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Along the river of memory, there lies a village of song where the eyes of women meet in harmonized experience. Shared lives of duty, men, and children. But no matter who looks and pries within those encrypted hearts, they turn away or lash out in fear. Men who fall in love with the hushed tones of the wind cascading down fields of dead grass and the low pitched call of hawks competing with him for dinner. They tread through a world that they barely understand every night. Forever a visitor in a strange land. Seemingly delicate, thanks to youth, and nimble hands kneading primitive dough, she finds herself slipping along the currents of her own thoughts. In her innocence, unaware of leering gazes from the villagers following her every movement. What was once graceful fulfillment of her feminine duty becomes a lewd act. Traveling still, she finds herself wandering through back alleys entrenched with the permanent scent of the living. Beneath layers of filth, she senses the threat of scavengers and predators. There are stories left untold in the rustle of dirt encrusted sleeves and torn heavy duty khakis that have not seen the inside of an office in years adorned with more piss stains than a used cloth diaper. Uncertain steps transition into a slight sway of the hips as she readies the thin large round iron baking pan for eventual baking. But that is also a lie, she knows, as she lifts her gaze from the floor of the bus to catch a glimpse of the scene unfolding outside the window across from her.

The old man ambles down the block with the odd grace of those who wear another decade around their shoulders. It’s not just the old straw hat or the well-tailored dress jacket or the loosely fit slacks that gives it away. It’s the slight slump of the shoulders one gets when letting the mind wander too far into the past. Like a blanket the body tries to envelope itself with to block out the present that they resent so much. The ugliness of the world around them. They watch their descendants resort to drugs, alcohol, and an endless sea of faceless strangers on street corners and in abandoned buildings, inevitably becoming an active part of what they are trying so hard to forget. The young ones, they didn’t choose this existence but it chose them and it sinks its claws into their hearts with the tenacity of a rabid animal. We want to protect our children from the world, but sometimes what we want most is to protect them from ourselves.

The bus passes a woman sitting in her car checking for traffic before a right turn and she examines her face. How the artificial light illuminates her cheekbones and slides down each meeting at her lips. It dawns on her that this woman must belong to someone like most women here tend to. She imagines the woman’s face titled back against the car seat in pleasure for brief moment. Does her lover caress her neck with worship in his eyes and every feeling he holds within hanging on his breath as he runs his mouth over her ear? Does she reward him with a smile that is for his eyes only and so it will remain even if they do not? The passenger on the bus wonders and sighs to herself in resignation. The other woman’s lover does not do these things, she decides. Their love life is probably as boring and as passionless as the best porn flick that is available on tape. Fingering, blowjob, penetration, dirty talk, few position changes, and end. How she longs for passion as the bus rolls on past the woman in her car.

How she longs for life.

Part 36

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

The routine in our house was usually that after my father would come back from dawn prayer the mosque, he would be sitting in the kitchen reading the Quran. We would wake up and be asked to turn on a recitation tape or CD and then make wadooh, ritual washing of the body, before praying morning prayer. Only after we do these things are we allowed to sit down and eat breakfast. If my mother was not up, then he would wake her, but on rare occasions he would make and serve us breakfast. Any deviation from that routine usually resulted in a long lecture about our duty to our creator. How we don’t forget to eat or go to the bathroom, but forget about the one that created us. My mother would be cranky in the morning when he would push her to do her prayers and make breakfast a lot. She could not start a day right without a cup of coffee. Light and sweet with milk and never cream. She would have several cups during the course of the day too. It was a bit of an addiction for her.

During summer break before University started, my eye sight became really bad. I used to have perfect 20/20 vision, but I noticed it deteriorating during my late high school years. My father blamed it on me watching too much TV and being on the computer too much. So, I hated myself for a while for having to wear glasses just to see the board at school. That summer we also visited Egypt for the first time since we had lived there. Cousin A, Uncle M’s only son, was enrolled in the pharmacy program and his youngest sister was enrolled in the music program due to her grades being low. Cousin A always had an interest in me since the days that we were very young and used to dance on the roof top together. We were left sometimes to “get to know” each other and he basically showed off his collection of pirated Egyptian music on his computer. We would all watch censored American movies together and I brought over a Sailor Moon tape for us all to watch. Cousin AT, his younger sister, who I used to have a short sexual tryst with when we were younger, had gained almost as much weight as I had at one point. I did not understand her decline in self-esteem, but it finally dawned on me later on what happened. My mother told me many years later that she was circumcised at the age of thirteen because she was found flirting with boys from the balcony. Her father, Uncle M, had also tried to push my father to circumcise me when I was born, but my mother advised him against it. Her reasoning was that some studies showed that being circumcised usually made a girl more promiscuous instead of curbing the desire like initially thought. Their older sister, Cousin AM, was married and it looked like it was against her will sometimes. Her husband would be over and he would put on an air of being playful and try to get me to joke with him, but I would tell him off every chance I got. Most of the people in the household would take it as humor, but we both knew that I did not like him. At all. From what I saw of how he treated his wife and from what I have heard, I gathered that he was an abusive husband. Nobody did anything about it. Cousin AM was a math teacher like our grandmother was, but he ended up making her stay home and quit her job.

We also had visits from our two male cousins that lived with Uncle S’s divorced wife. He sent her money on a semi-normal basis, but the family all claimed that she was mentally ill. They also claimed that she abused them. Uncle M would sit the children down and whisper to them the stories of how their mother would not feed them and would force them to do grueling household chores. He would force them to recount them and reenact them with demonstrations. The children would look vacant and troubled and when he did that, which was an almost impossible combination to see displayed in a person at the same time. Aunt’s S’s family rarely came over anymore because of the hate and rumors that Uncle M’s family were still perpetuating since the last time that we lived there.

Uncle M’s family was well off at that time because they were reaping the benefits of the rented properties that my father owned. They were stealing some of the profits for themselves and not telling my father about it and were not found out until my mother did the math. Not only that, but my mother had to leave some family heirlooms behind and my Uncle had thrown them away without consulting with any of my parents about it. Despite all that, their collective hatred seemed to grow and spread to everyone and everything. We only stayed a week and decided to spend the rest of our vacation at our apartment in Alexandria which was where my baby brother took his first steps.

When I went out, despite being a bigger girl, I noticed a lot of the leers and suggestive behavior that I was willfully oblivious to when I was younger. Whether that was because it wasn’t as common as it was during the time that I visited or I become more experienced and aware with age, I can’t say. That wasn’t the only thing that changed over the years. Gone was the live animals being sold on the streets, you only found those at night in the big cities like Alexandria, Tanta, or Cairo. That, or in the smaller farm villages at any time of the day. Uncle M’s family, before we left to Alexandria, bought a bunch processed meat and other supplies from a small grocery store. No more killing the animals yourself. I instantly remembered the time that my father had tried to get me to kill a duck and, when I would not, he made me hold its wings so that he could do it. Or the times when I would be fascinated watching my mother kill chickens and the bemused feeling that I would get when she would try to kill a rabbit by herself and fail. There was also a lamb that was killed on our balcony in Cairo and it was flooded with blood by the time the affair was over.

Egypt had changed and it was continuing to change while I was not there to experience any of it. Just the aftermath whenever we were able to visit. Soon my first year at Rutgers University would begin whether I was ready or not.