Tuesday, 27 March 2007

A Storm of Loyalty

Minutes turned to hours, hours to days, and days to weeks, and our friend's mind reached her time after time, his eyes could look deep into hers as he looked into the night, he could smell her distinct rosy scent, fresh..it wakes up one's conscience, her brown hair cascading like a waterfall rushing down the highest mountains. She was the last thing on his mind before he surrendered to sleep each night, her face was the warmth of the sun that woke him up every morning, she was the intoxication in his sobriety, he was drunk in her mirth, the thought of her could make his heart reach his throat.

This trip was his pilgrimage, his past sins would be forgiven when he finds her, his soul would be washed by angels as she smiles at him, when she did..back in the days..he would literally feel that his life was complete, he would not need to eat or drink..the thought of her content was enough to break all rules of physics, he would become an ultra human, one who is powered by the most noble of all human emotions.

He was heading her way, from cities of obscurity, and palaces where the balconies look onto clouds, from longings inhabited by estranged tales of love, with a kind of joy and happiness never before imagined by the layers of sadness wrapped around his neck, he was like a poem not yet written.

One evening, as the seamen finished the day's work, the skipper gathered them and said he was feeling a storm in the air, he predicted it to hit them later at night, they lowered the sail, made sure all the ropes were properly tied, and waited for their enemy to charge, the rumbling of thunder announced the close invasion, lightning was like the distant shining of swords, the crew prepared for war, what war is this? man against nature, they knew it was an unwinnable battle, their strife was to survive, to remain standing, life is a strife against all kinds of elements, and this was one of life's tests, they sailed into their enemy's territory, as it forced into theirs, and with every minute, the wind became stronger, the ship became a kite, as it swayed right and left, the first attack of waves into the ship became stronger as the waves were getting higher, rain made it worse, water was surrounding them, it fell from above, came from beneath their feet, in a united charge of nature's powers.

The crew sought refuge in the ship's belly, on the lower deck, and as they sat there..they felt that the hands of Zeus and Neptune were bound together underneath them, water rose higher as the wind grew stronger, no one could tell what had happened next, except that few had made it out of the storm, the last thing our friend remembers was Jaffar's attempt to steer the ship out of the storm, he was the strongest among the crew, and the only possible match to its might, he had remained on deck throughout the night, by the first light of dawn, it became clear that Zeus and Neptune decided to conspire with their brother Pontus to bring Jaffar among them, Jaffar had managed to save the ship with his own demise.

Saturday, 24 March 2007


His comprehension of the politics of probability could not grasp the coincidence of fate he has just witnessed, he was on a ship in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and before him stood a man who found freedom where he had lost it, Cordoba was the uniter..it was the divider, where dreams came true and where they were lost. and now..this man..this prisoner of inhumanity was eulogizing the lost moments of freedom he had found in non other than The Grand Library of Cordoba, where his own life rocketed before plunging back down.

Jaffar turned out to be a man of wisdom, despite his ill fate, he conquered his own estrangement of land, of humanity..he compensated it with knowledge, and what better place to seek freedom..intellectual liberation..than in Cordoba, he learned to read..in Arabic, as he read the masterpieces of minds past, he cherished the few hours of freedom he could have whenever his imprisoned world reached the shores of Andalusia, where beauty of face and place, complimented the beauty of mind, where people were masters..as they were servants of enlightenment.

For the remainder of the trip, Jaffar became the companion, the nights of our friend's days, they became each other's freedom from their respective captivities. Jaffar taught our friend about Africa, the vast plains of Zanzibar, its infinite landscape, where the sun meets the moon, and the sea meets heaven as they both carry the distant mountains like a mother carries her child.

Their sailing in each other's minds as they both sailed west gave them the will to reach their own destinations, Jaffar's freedom was within his reach as our friend revealed his identity as the keeper of the grand library, the knowledge within the books in Cordoba was within our friend's chest, and with every mind trip they took together, they reached the stars above..as they reached the plains of Zanzibar, the gardens of Andalusia and the endless fortunes of Metropolitan, both men became brothers of fate, they bonded in their separation, and their countless separations were diminishing with each passing hour on board this vessel of fate..of faith, the faith in tomorrow, when Jaffar is a free man, and our friend is re-united with his land, his soul and his dream..of finding her, and in doing so..finding himself.

Thursday, 22 March 2007


It was a hot day in Metropolitan, his longing for Cordoba matured under the midsummer afternoon sun, as he crossed the busy markets heading to the port, he couldn't bear this heavy feeling lying over his chest..he felt like an unfinished symphony, a bird shot down in flight, confused..disoriented. he has found success in the years past, but he was constantly misrepresented..misunderstood, it felt as if he spoke a different language, no one could understand him, nor could he understand.

He searched among the vessels..asking seaman after another whether any of them was heading to Andalusia, and with every "No" he heard, with every denying nod..he became more determined to reach her, even if he had to walk along the shores..following seagulls, until he reached Gibraltar. His heart skipped a beat when a man finally pointed at a white boat in the distance..it was heading to Tangier, he ran like he never ran before, he looked for the skipper, "Take me with you" he shouted, the skipper looked down from the boat at this man on the pier.."This is not a boat for leisure..I carry spices". our friend hurried up the ladder, and in one leap he was facing the skipper, in another quick move, he took out a bag of golden coins.."Take me as far as you can..and I shall give you two more of these", The skipper smiled; "What makes you think that I wouldn't take all your money and throw you in the middle of the sea?!", our friend grabbed the skipper by his shirt, "I would swim the rest of the distance".

The skipper maintained his calm as he fixed his wrinkled shirt..seamen are patient by nature, he grabbed our friend's hand and lead him to a small room below deck, "you sleep here..you rise at dawn..and you work for your meals".

The man became ecstatic with joy..his lifelong dream of returning home was coming true, he threw his small pouch in the corner and got himself ready to start working..he thought that the sooner he became part of the crew..the sooner he would arrive, he grabbed a mop..ran up to the ship's deck..and went on with cleaning his new found kingdom..he was always a philosopher of fate, he ruled a kingdom of books in Cordoba, then a kingdom of fortune in Metropolitan, and now he was the master of the mop, and his pride was greatest with this third reign, this ship was the carrier of his longings, this kingdom was different..it represented a promise, a realization of fate, bearing his heart, his dreams, his future and his past, it was heading west, where Cordoba is.

He was crossing the ship right and left..staring into the horizon..trying to unfold the distance like one unfolds a rug..wanting to see further than he could, and with every breathe he took, his estrangement became less painful, as his lungs realized that the air filling them was becoming more and more familiar.

On the evenings aboard the ship, he would have supper with the seamen, then take a corner on deck..lay his head and look up to the stars, he remembered the old man, and his lessons about the stars, "There are 88 star constellations, each month, a number of these constellations rise in the night sky", and as it was July, he knew that the 6 stars in the western sky where the stars that made up "Hercules", the bright one in the distance was the Northern star.

Few days have passed into the voyage, and still he couldn't get accustomed with the constrained life on board a small ship, the constant rocking of the ship made him uneasy..he couldn't sleep..as his thoughts took him on trips of time and space, and as the ship slowly sliced the sea, truth became more and more resident in his mind, he has finally done it..he has killed his defeat, conquered his fears..and he was now realizing the meaning of the victory he achieved over himself, he never thought that one day he would get over his expulsion from paradise, he never thought that one day..somehow, a hidden force would torpedo his being into heading in the direction of Cordoba once more, it was like The Forbidden City to him, he could never set foot there again, "the only certainty is that there is no certainty", he thought to himself as he went into a philosophical trance, nothing stays the same, kings can become peasants, peasants can become kings, the sea can turn into a desert, and foes can become friends..time makes its own decisions..and we are but players on the big board of life, we think we're successful, we think we're on top of the world, and then suddenly..we discover that we were sitting on the tip of an iceberg, below us are miles and miles of hidden truths..and the tip was melting under our own feet.

His chain of thought was broken by a fellow seaman..the shadow of a huge man of African descent stood above him, carrying a lantern, he kneeled then sat beside our friend. "I'm Jaffar" he said..our friend smiled and kept staring at the stars, Jaffar sat there, as their silence was only broken by the sound of the waves splashing against the ship, Jaffar took out an orange he had bought in the market by the bay before their departure, he pealed the skin off the orange, and presented half of it to our friend as he laid, feeling disrespectful..he sat up, took his half, thanking Jaffar, and for the next few minutes..they both ate their halves..contemplating their next moves.

"How long have you been a seaman?" our friend asked.."Twelve years and four months..ever since I was sold in Zanzibar, I was a boy". our friend sensed the pain in Jaffar's voice, his vessel for freedom was someone else's prison, his promise of victory was this man's betrayal of defeat. Jaffar started narrating his tragedy; "I was taken away from my family..sold as a slave, I've travelled the world, but in doing so, I was still a prisoner, I saw gold, silver, precious spices..but I was always the man to move it from one master to another, I could never own any of it." Jaffar had the body of a gladiator, but with every word he uttered in the broken Arabic he spoke, his tender heart as innocent as the baby elephants in Africa came undone, and with it, our friend's attention grew, he was taken by this gentle giant's ordeal.

"Have you been to Cordoba?" our friend asked, "Yes..a noble city of noble people" Jaffar exclaimed, "The only place where I felt free was in Cordoba" he went on.."I felt free as my mind felt free..I used to visit The Grand Library of Cordoba..until it was lost in a fire", our friend jumped on his feet like a possessed demon..Jaffar snapped up as well, thinking a rat had bitten our friend..they both stood there..facing each other..each not knowing what to do next..until Jaffar shouted asking if our friend was alright..bringing him back to reality, our friend sat down and held his head..trying to stop his mind from escaping through his fingers.

Saturday, 17 March 2007


On the Morning of his rebirth, he walked out the room..where he spent the previous night in contemplation over his existence..his purpose in life, the Sword which he had hung on the wall for years has finally poked his conscious, his soul was uneasy as he realized that the man he was, was nothing more than a pawn on a chess board, he walked to the fountain in his courtyard, and submerged his head..baptizing his soul in ice cold water, he declared a revolution..promising his past, his present and his future to return to his origins..the noble man who roamed the desert, lending a helpful hand to the destitute and the poor.

His exile was now even more foreign, as his inner estrangement was more than his bearing, he gasped for the air of Cordoba..no air is like the air of Cordoba, even his lungs knew that the air filling their corners was foreign, he couldn't let go of the memory, that old man had a very enduring gaze..his eyes were those of a man who had witnessed the beginning of time.

Our friend was full of mysteries yet to be unraveled, his golden past inscribed in poetry was a prologue to his future, this was the beginning, and the best was yet to come, he remembered a free soul he had sought back in Cordoba, she had the beauty of Ancient Queens, the grace of Greek goddesses..and all the pride of Andalusia. If perfection existed, she would've been the one to prove it, she could argue with men over religious rules, then have a philosophical duel with the greatest philosophers, and with one look from those deep brown eyes..she would turn the world around, she had Cordoba at her fingertips, and when she walked under the moonlight, one would think that the moon was actually under her spell, clouds would clear..and the full moon would light her path..as she walked by the Great Mosque of Cordoba, worshipers would be taken away from their prayers..but beauty isn't a distraction, it's a fortification of faith..a sign of the greatness of to whom prayers rise.

She knew the art of Andalusian singing, her velvet voice was heard miles away..people would sit in their gardens and listen as the wind carried the tunes from afar, even foes of Cordoba laid arms as her singing penetrated hearts..united humans for a fraction of time. Madness creates genius, or vice versa, but one thing was for sure, his sanity hanged by a thread as he sat there; an exile..a king, a man who had sold his golden past for a present of silver..and a future of sand, he spoke to no human for 3 days..Silence is like being in labour..Zacharias was ordered to abstain from speech when God promised him a son, The Virgin Mary was ordered to seek asylum in silence as she carried her noble son to her people.

He thought of her, and all the words in the world came to his mind, but none were actually spoken, thoughts travel faster than light, he wondered what had become of her, he packed..walked out of his gated paradise, and headed in the direction of Cordoba..where his soul had remained, in search of her, in search of truth..he never found any truth after he had left..everything was tainted in a shade of darkness, nothing paralleled the scent of cordovan jasmin, or the purity of the flowing streams of Andalusia, he sought his past..he wanted it, he wanted her..to be his future, his fuel was Esperanza..Hope.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

The Sword

Deep in the Arabian Desert, where sand storms wage their conquests over more sand..there lived a man; each day..he rides the wind on his White Arabian horse, and roams the desert in search for nourishment..water, and knowledge. He has grown up with the beasts of the desert..he has become a seasoned man..with the shrewd sunburned hawk eyes he has mastered the talent of character judgement..he could tell if a man was honest, brave, noble..or otherwise from the first few words he utters..his demeanor and his conduct.

One day, as he crossed the plains..he came upon an old man..exhausted and thirsty, and like the noble Arab he was..our friend hurried in the old man's direction..quenched his thirst..and shaded him with his own turban..he then took him to his tent, fed him, and left him to rest..the man slept for 3 days..only waking up to drink some water.

On the fourth day, the old man woke up..and looked around, he didn't recognize his setting, as he looked in the distance, he saw his rescuer outside..building a fire..it was almost dusk, and our friend was getting ready to fix the evening meal, the old man stood up..and walked in the direction of his host.."Thank you", the host looked up at the old man, he smiled and nodded..and gestured to the old man to have a seat beside him, he pointed at some shrubs..requesting the old man to pass them on..and without saying a word..he grilled the meat..turning it every once in a while..as the old man looked on..glancing at the host every few seconds..in an attempt to unlock the mystery within this loner..who saved his life..gave him shelter in the middle of nowhere.."Who is this man?" he thought to himself, he looked at the man's hands..rough, and full of old cuts, his eyes were glowing in the fire light, "Great Night" he said..pointing at the stars above..and trying to get the host to speak.."I've always liked the night..I'm an astrologer, I read the stars".

The host became intrigued with that last statement..he looked at the old man and in a deep husky voice said: "Are you really?" as he tore a piece of meat and presented it to the old man..he asked him to read him his fortune after dinner, the old man nodded as he battled with the meat..the last time he ate was almost a week ago.

Later that night, the two men sat before the fire, exchanging stories of their pasts, but the host kept to himself one detail..how he got there..and why he was living alone in the desert, the old man..in his fortune telling manner, started reading some signs aloud: "You are a man of Honor..you save the weak, you honor the old, and you respect the desert, he who doesn't respect the desert is doomed to be buried within its dunes.."

The host didn't react, he just sat there attentively..trying to decide whether this man was true to his claim of fortune telling or if he was just another con artist.

"You have fled your land..not in fear, but in disappointment" The host's eyes flashed with un-concealable astonishment at what he just heard, "You shall return from your estrangement..to your land..and you shall be King" He then went over to his pouch, and took out a sword, an ancient golden sword revealed itself, the sword was decorated with ancient Arabic poetry, about honor..battles and victory, as the man read the inscription, it seemed as if the ancient poet was resurrected and was talking to him..and no one else, the old man had his wish..he now has the host hooked with wonder as he slowly untangled his mysterious identity.."I come from Andalusia, Cordoba..the jewel of the west, I was once the keeper of the Great library in Cordoba, until that ominous night..when the flames ate the one thousand year old sanctuary of knowledge, ancient transcripts were lost, I was punished..imprisoned, and exiled out of Paradise for my sin". The host confessed.

The old man scratched his beard as he listened on to his host..he now knew that this was no ordinary coincidence, he himself was heading to Cordoba when his ways led him to the lost paths of the desert..he was heading to seek knowledge..enlightenment, and when he was lost..he was found by the keeper of the Great Library of Cordoba, "What strange fate?" he thought to himself, but he now knows that his destination was no more. The two men made a pact, the old man asked the host to promise him that once he became king, he would make him the Grand keeper of the library in his land, in return, the old man would teach him the signs of the sky, the mystery of the stars and the hidden secrets of asteroids, the host presented his hand in a sign of agreement, and the two shook hands and spent the rest of the night conversing about their past journeys.

During the following few weeks, the old man's side of the deal was being kept, he taught our friend the names of the stars, ancient myths about the cosmos, and the art of finding direction through star reading, he told him he needed to befriend the stars..and when they're confident of his loyal friendship, they themselves will reveal more secrets, these are not taught..they're gained.

The host informed the old man of the books he used to keep, he told him of a book that discussed philosophy; "The mind is the road to salvation, people are blind not by their loss of sight, but their loss of insight", books that discussed the beauty of heaven, "Cordoba was heaven on earth..you could smell the blooming jasmine as its branches dangled from the walls of people's homes, as musicians recited songs of love and longing in the distance, where the sons of foreign kings came to seek knowledge..they learned Arabic, and spoke in the distinct cordovan dialect..they saw it as a privilege."

A few days later, the old man asked the host's permission to head on his way..thanking him for his generosity, hospitality and his nobility, reminding him of his promise..the host hugged the old man, confirmed his promise, and saw the old man off on the outskirts of the desert before returning to his world among the sands..he examined the sword the old man had given him..reciting the ancient poetry on it..before concealing it within his prized belongings..a book, an old piece of cloth belonging to his father, and now..the sword.

Years passed, and our friend has now found a new home in a new metropolitan on the edge of Arabia, a growing land..where the now exiles of the lost Andalusian cities have found home, the jasmin, the fountains and the libraries are now stories of the past, tales for books, they've been lost..forever. When man becomes arrogant, he loses his pride.

Our friend progressed in his life, reaching new heights as days passed, he now owned a grand palace on the highest hill overlooking metropolitan, his palace was reminiscent of Andalusia, the scent of jasmine saturated the air, as the sound of flowing water from the several fountains presented a relaxing effect, servants crossed the corners of the palace..you could almost hear Korsakov's "Shehrazade" playing in the background, as the man sat and pondered at his fortunes, he remembered the old man.."That man was right..I must find him, and keep the promise I made". he summoned his advisers and told them to seek an old man..a fortune teller, he gave them a description of the old man..and ordered them to find him.

A week had passed before word came that the old man he sought had passed away a few years before, as he crossed the desert, a group of thugs had attacked him..he was defenceless, and he was killed, The man wept as he heard the news, "The old man gave me his sword, his prized sword, and I left him to his fate, I wish I hadn't accepted that sword, I wish I never met that old man", he walked into his room and closed the door behind, the sword was hanging on the wall, he removed it and read the inscription once again:

كفى بك داءً أن ترى الموت شافيا وحسب المنايا أن يكنّ أمانيا
تمنيتََََََها لمّا تمنيتَ أن ترى صديقاً فأعيا أو عدوّاً مُدجيا

A man's sword..is his mind, his fortune teller, his golden future inscribed in poetry, his use of the sword is optional, defending himself is one option, and as one defends himself with this particular sword, its magical powers are revealed, it fights with you..for you. There comes a time when you have to pass the sword on , it is the responsibility of the next owner to decide what they do with it..some choose to use it, some choose to hang it on the wall..but swords are not made to be hung on walls, neither are minds.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

On The Wisdom of Silence

There's a certain charm in Silence, maybe stemmed from the idea of self restraint..Patience, replacing self expression from the outwards..to the inwards..Silence is an act of inner self expression, a dialogue within..the most honest dialogue is the one within, it might be as peaceful as a mass prayer in unison, or as brutal as a war..no war is more brutal than the war that rages within one's chest.

I'm captivated by Silence, it radiates with Mystery..it penetrates walls, sometimes silence can be louder than all the physical noises around us..we co-habitate with those as they become part of the background of our life paintings, but Silence..has its allurement, a certain promise of betterment.

Silence begets Wisdom, as it engages the mind in a series of observations..turning into a series of contemplations, it's an embedded cleansing system, Silence washes the soul; reaching the point of soul cleansing is a long journey, unearthly..as you engage ultra-human powers in the process of unintentional meditation, deep breathes are often expressions of deep thought, they result in an instantaneous physical comfort, they're also signs of soul cleansing..deep long breathes only take place when one is silent, you've just had one..you were silent.

I get into these philosophical moods, and every once in a while, I walk into my "lighthouse", and look out..and almost always, what I see is a flash of an idea, un-photographable, un-recordable, but describable in an unearthly manner, it's soft..hence comforting, light..hence comforting, and silent..hence comforting.

Silence gives a feeling of Eternity..an Immortality of Thoughts.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

An Untold Tale

On a distant port, there's a lighthouse, and every night, the lighthouse keeper spirals the one hundred and thirty steps leading to the top, and starts the daily ritual of cleaning the lenses and mirrors, he oils the lighting system and turns the powerful lamp on..and waits.

He looks out the window into the sea of darkness..in search of light, ironic..since his purpose is to be sought, darkness makes the sea infinite as it removes the thin line between heaven and earth, tonight marks the twenty fourth year since his first night here, but just like the past anniversaries, his celebration was marked by one thing...being here.

He throws a couple of logs into the fireplace in the corner and lights a fire, the sizzling sound of burning wood breaks the melodic echos of the rushing seawaves as they hit the rocks on the pier; earth, wind, water and fire..all melt into one tonight, as they become the guests of honor in the lighthouse keeper's party. He puts the kettle on the fire and brews some coffee, the aromatic scent of coffee reminds him of past days, happy days those were, people who passed, people who took the very same sea he's watching over and sailed away..into the sunset, leaving behind the lighthouse..where the sun rises, as they left behind the man who rises to his duties as the sun sets, he ponders at the mysterious concept of time, day and night, light and dark...he's a man of light, although he makes his living out of the existence of darkness, without it he would've never been able to build the little house on the hill, he would've never been able to grow a family tree of his own.

He takes out a book; James Joyce's "Ulysses", a lighthouse keeper reading Ulysses!!..he thinks to himself with a subdued smile.."Thank God I never ended up being a college professor, I would've probably been blind by now..or crazy, probably both".

The kettle adds life to the party with its announcing whistle, he pours himself a cup of coffee, looks out the window again, and returns to his book, pausing every once in a while..looking out the window..and looking at the bright stars above, he's been looking at those stars for the past twenty four years, and by now..he knows each one by name, although it is only him who knows those names..he named them after stars in his life; his wife, his two daughters and his son..his mother and father are also there..a bit higher in the night sky. He knows where to find each one as they move across the horizon, and amazingly, sometimes..he feels the presence of one or the other..as their star shines a little bit brighter than usual, a cosmic sign of comfort..his stars are here, when he wants them.

Day light is approaching, and his role in his own Ulysses is drawing to an end, he provided guidance to so many lost ships in his past, he still remembers the thankful faces of sailors who had almost lost hope of ever seeing their families again, until they saw his light in the distance, those sailors are still thankful, they still check on him whenever they're sailing close to that lighthouse, they bring their sons and daughters..introducing them to the man whose light renewed their lives..showed them the way home.

He turns off the lamp, the big lamp in the sky has taken over now, he extinguishes the fire, tidies up the place, cleans the lenses and mirrors again, he takes one last look out that window..scanning the scene as far as he can see, he shuts the window, descends the one hundred and thirty steps, and shuts the door behind, as he walks back up the hill for the last time, his time as a lighthouse keeper has come to an end, and from now on, he will be a character in Ulysses, a philosopher..a man of enlightenment, and a retired man of light.

Funny how his relationship with light..influenced his mind, light was his bread earner, light is his food for thought, he still watches the sea, the stars and the night, he still sees the faces of his stars as he looks into the night sky, and he still feeds the fire with fresh logs; from his little house on the hill, he made his own little lighthouse..for minds, and hearts.