During one of the great lockdowns of 2020, I finally convinced my mother to sit down after a long day of Zoom-ing to watch a movie with bowls full of bizr and a vodka 7UP for each of us. But my grandmother stood smack-dab in front of the TV and asked me to thread not one but four sewing needles. Her eyesight isn't as strong as it used to be. Since my grandmother moved back from Vancouver to live with us, she has always asked me to play her music from old cassette tapes she's hoarded over the years. I
you spend years wondering if thisis the soil you want to shoulder,the soil you want to be shouldered by. the paroxysm of wanting a deathdoes not come to you as pinprick but onestretched out into idiosyncrasy foran entire people.your entire peoplewanting death. theirs or theirs.
to kill or to die. you know something must die. the emotion rises within youlike a biting pledge. you want to
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البحر لوحةٌ، واسع وهادئ كأنّ لا موج فيه. كل شيء يتحرّك من حوله إلّا هو. لكنّي أشعر بكل نسمة هواء. ببرودة المياه. أشمّ رائحة الملح، وأتذوّقه على شفتَي. أقف في وسط هذا البحر، كأنّ لا عمق فيه. أنظر إلى رجليّ، فأرى السمك يسبح حولهما، ثم أرى انعكاسي، مبعثرة الوجه. جامدة. أتيتَ من الخلف، وضعتَ يدك على كتفي. نظرتُ إليك. وجهك هادئ تماماً كهدوء هذا البحر. سألتُك: متى آخر مرة بكيتَ؟ أخرجتَ من جيبك قطعة من الزجاج، أمسكت يدي ووضعتها فيها. هربَ السمك، ثمّ انفجر البحر. استيقظتُ. في حلمي انفجر البحر. بل بيروت، مجدّداً. لكنّها في حلمي كانت
Photograph by Margaux Chalancon
We're picking out a name for you again. Shamsah, Badiʿat Al-Jameel, Ashaʿ, Siʿlat. We tussle with the name, looking for something grated, a song that scratches the throat. Ruqaya, Zawʿabah, Sughal. We finish and start again, feeling for a name that slices like a blade, a razor to the tongue. Rayḥāna, Ruwaha, Tiamat. But nothing hits and we need to find a name for you because the jinn, like most things, are impossible without one.
We had one name before. Hashem, from Al-Hashm, meaning to crush, or crumble. It's the nickname of the prophet's grandfather who broke
There's a blackhead on my chin. I probe it every morning. I poke; I prod; I nudge; it won't budge. It's been there for a month. By now, I have given it a name. I call it Charlotte, mostly because it rhymes with harlot. I see it several times a day. It sees me, too. Sometimes, I catch its unsightly gaze staring back at me shamelessly, defiantly. "I'm here to stay."
It's a lesson in coexistence. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger-and every so often, uglier.
It's Tuesday, and I think, today is the day. It has to go. It's almost