Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sitting in the Doorway

Today one of the most extraordinary "firsts" had happened. All people who knows Attawie, those who went to the same universities she's been to, and even those who are used to see her in the near grocery shop or those who lived in the same building, they all knew when Attawie comes she comes with a bag. Her black back bag: where you can see the water bottle on one side, the mobile phone on the other. The bag which always carries her wallet, keys, a book she's reading at the time, a sketch book, a notebook, the memory desk which serves as an MP3 player and a recorder at the same time, a camera, digital organizer & dictionary, the university file, and other things if needed. The bag she considers home.
Today as I was getting ready to leave home around 8 am, when I forgot to wear my watch thinking it was ok because I got my mobile with me, I got a weird feeling. I went to the institute of art where I am a graduate now and I'm registered as a painting student only. But as a special girl as Attawie, I took an approval from the administration to work in any department I feel I want to. I've been a student there since October 2005.

When I got there I found out that today was the first lecture for those who registered for Graphic. I had a word with the instructor and that was it; this was my first class in Graphic as it wasn't on the syllabus two years ago. I worked for three hours and it was time to go home.

When I got home my dad was there, watching the news. As I took off my left shoe I remember I should get some shopping before I took off my clothes. I put it on again and told my dad it wouldn't take time and I'll be back in few minutes. That's when he decided he should go out too. Then we both went down in the same lift, each one of us headed to a different direction.

After I finished shopping I went home. In the lift I had mixed feelings and thoughts. When I got to the door I faced the truth, I had no key. To top it all I had no cell phone.

First thing came to my mind is to go to our friends and call my mother in case she would call and can't find me. We had two families in the same are, one living about fifteen minutes walk and the other would take at least twenty minutes at best. The far people are friendly but I won't go without being well dressed and a touch of make up. As I was too messed up after working on my first Graphic work., so I decided to go to the nearest and have some fun with their baby son. As I reached their building the problem was I never been to their home alone and I really can't remember in which floor they were. I remember the place of the flat but not the number. That reminded me of the necessity of cell phones. I went to the super and asked him about the number but he didn't seem to want to give any help. Therefore, I had to explained to him the situation. He decided to check the system for me. Their building was huge I imagined the system just needed typing the name so we can learn the number of the flat. That moment shocked me when the man handed me a file full of papers with excel columns full of names and numbers. I though "Yeah I found it".

Looking through the names I wondered if I can find people I know who happened to be there. But that took so much time that I asked the man to check for me. I knew he knows them, and I know he knows their sun. I've seen him talking to him once and daah he's the super. It took a pretty much time to find their name and that's how I went up to find nobody's home!

I thought my father could be home already and now it's ok to go home. I asked for the time and it was about 12:50 pm. As I walked back home I passed by the shopping center in our building. When I ran the bell it was still nobody's home. I kept walking back and forth in our floor and went to the very far end where I've never been to but with my baby girl cousin who I used to take for a walk when she wants to go out when they were visiting from Germany.

I counted the minutes, and then started to count the steps. I counted the ceramic in the ground, and then counted the steps from the lift to our home, which by the way were only 15 steps. I tried to sit a while and then walk another while. I even did some jogging when there was no one around. Then I discovered a place where none of the magic eyes can reach and I started to do some stretching and athletic moves which helped me a lot after God knows how many times I sat on the ground.

People started to get home after doing some grocery just like myself. Then kids were brought home from KGs and after a while the older kids got home by themselves. Later, I could smell the food being cooked. Different smells started to roam the floor. In a while fathers started to come for apparently lunch hour because it was followed by the sound of the war between the spoons and forks against the plates.

I didn't feel hungry. I know behind this door the delicious chicken mom cooked last night was waiting in the fridge. Or it could be the cup cake I ate on the bus after I thought a little piece won't harm my appetite for lunch.

Time passed by and I had my shopping outside the door with me sitting next to it. I felt I was alone, helpless, and for the first time I was a real stupid. People kept passing by. No one bothered to look at me except for a child who was carried by her mom and I kept playing pica Bo with her till they got home. The noisy neighbor came with his eldest son. They were loud as usual. Once they got home the son told the mother he got a good mark. They were shouting I could hear every single word. Later the sister and the middle brother came. Few minutes passed and the youngest came all by himself. The brothers all looked the same.

I felt invisible. All those songs about people who don't care and the darkness of life came to my mind. That inspired me of writing a poem which I'll share after editing it.

I tried to think of something to cheer me up. But there was nothing. I looked at my wallet and I thought "there is something to make me feel better". It was the photos I kept in the small pockets. Let's see, I haven't had a look at them for a while. The first photo was supposed to include one person but my sister and her best friend wanted to take a photo together when they were hanging out in a mall. My elder sister and her best friend who happened to be the sister of my other sister's friend (two sisters are best friends of other two sisters), they both jumped in the photo with their sisters after they found out the machine charged too much money for one photo. The photo had two faces; one is pressed from three sides, a big forehead with tiny eyes and a nose, a big forehead with a big nose. I thought wow; it's great to see this photo first. The two friends are in Qatar now.

Then I thought let's see who would cheer me now. When I picked the next photo it was my cousin who lived with us about a couple of years around 1993 till she got married. She is now a mother of three children. Unfortunately I haven't met the youngest yet. He was born after I left Baghdad.

The third photo was empty. Yup empty because it used to be a cousin's photo which my sister and I kept fighting over it that it ended up in two pieces; one white (which was with me) and the other the real photo was lost. So I just have the back and the name. But I can still remember the face he had. He was in his early grades and looked funny. He's now studying his master in Jordan. Then the next photo was for another cousin who's also studying in Jordan.

Then Morbido's face was there. She was smiling at me. I thought she must be getting ready to start her day. She's studying in the States. Then Joy's photo was there too. She had this big smile on as usual with a skeptical look in her eyes. She's working in Baghdad. Last week I was chatting with her she was worried that the group of six (Joy, Shabnim, Blessings, Maro, Morbido and I) will remain spinsters. Maro got engaged but her fiancé is in London struggling to get her a visa. There were no more photos.

I checked the next pocket where I found Sosa smiling with her tiny lips. She was an adorable child. And she still in the other two photos one with a very short hair and the other she's all grown up with make up. At this moment she is studying in Jordan. Then dad's photo came in and I still can't remember where he said he was going and why should it takes him this long. Then came my eldest sister's four photo; one she was only three years old, the other she was in her first grades, another during her high school age, and the fourth was taken during her engagement. She looks an entire different person in each single photo. Short hair, two pony tails, freaking bhang, and the she reached a beautiful hair stile made her look like Rachel Green. She is married in Jordan and studying Master's degree in Media.

Then bunch of photos left in the third pocket. They were a collection of my cousins, aunt, uncle and grandma. They are scattered in the States, Germany and lately my grandma was visiting Mexico.

I was still alone in the doorway.
I kept a close look at the movement of the lift and made a kind of theory that I can go down without missing my dad if he was at the same time going up. And it did work not just because I was counting the floors right but because my dad has not come yet. And the theory was proved right.

I sat for a while in the building entrance. There were so many people out there waiting for their kids to get home. I thought how come some kids reached home and had their lunch and those still yet to get home? A man and a woman were talking. He was Jordanian and she was an Iraqi. He asked her for how long she's been in UAE and how it was to live in Baghdad. She told him she left Baghdad 6 months ago and now it's too dangerous to stay there and it was so hard to stay alive living there.

I had to choose between staying in the floor giving myself a backache sitting and walking, or sitting in the building entrance and catching a cold, which by the way I already have now.

And that's how I welcomed my 24th birthday.

* Later, my father and I joined by my mother and a friend went to Dragon Mart, which is something resemble china town. I had a hotdog even though I don't eat junk food and it was the first time to try mustard in the sandwich.

Happy Birthday Attawie

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Blogger aNarki-13 said...

Well, there's your movie script right there: the one you mentioned a few posts back.
just add a few flashback scenes (using the photographs as a start) and some music (the poem maybe?) + some twists and voila. one movie ready to go :)

you can think of what happened as maybe a chance to look back at your past, and forward to the future..

salam to S and everyone. cheers.

3/07/2007 7:28 AM  
Blogger David said...

Naughty C-Box wont let me comment! So, I wish you a Very Happy Birthday Attawie!! :D

Ok, now I will read your post. :)

3/07/2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger David said...

I feel as if I have shared a day in the life of Attawie! :) There were times that I forgot my keys when I was a kid living in my parents house. However, I was a very skilled innovater. It didn't take me long to figure out how to "break in" to the house. I knew the lock to my bedroom window was faulty, so it wasn't hard to get it to open. The hardest part was unscrewing about ten screws that attached the storm window to the window frame. Well, I broke off a tine from our steel leaf rake and used it as a screw driver. :)

I did not know that Attawie always carries a black back pack! Maybe you should send me a picture of you with the bag, so that I will know that for sure! ;)

You certainly stayed busy while you were waiting! Well, I would have been bored too. However, it sounds like you really enjoyed the chance to look at your pictures, so the time was well spent. :)

Now why would Joy think you would remain a spinster? You are very smart, and from your drawing of yourself, I think that you are a beautiful woman! So, it seems to me that quite a few men would consider themselves lucky if you took a fancy to them! :) Hey, I have an idea. Why don't you make a drawing of Morbido so that I can compliment her, as well. :)

Sorry to hear of your cold. I hope it will be gone very soon!

Once again, Happy Birthday! :)

3/07/2007 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Happy Birthday Attawie! I wish you a wonderful day!

3/07/2007 12:29 PM  
Blogger attawie said...

we can make a movie out of the simplest day of our lives. We just need a producer.

It would be great. I like acting and singing, and you know what I did sing Evanescence's "Hello" if you know it. The sound was wow not just because I like my sound a7m a7m but the echo was terrific. The poem is done but I'll post it on Luke's poetry blog, or maybe just share it here or will add it to the post.

Flashback scenes won't be a problem. If you'll be the director then you'll check my diary books I kept since high school
Violin, it won't take much. You just need to give me some hard score and the audience will leave the theater once I start struggling to read the new notes. So I recommend it if we stick to old music that I know.

Thank you. My sister told me she wasn't able to comment on the Cbox too.
I meant to share the last day as 23 years old. I should have wrote "and that's how Attawie said goodbye to her 23rd year" it would be better; maybe still there's time to edit the post.
We lost our key once back in Baghdad. We had to pull the AC out to get in. it was around 1995. Life was still safe in Iraq, at least in our area and we didn't have any safety windows.

Skill and innovation might work with you but living in a building is an entirely different story. We live in the 13th floor and the building has 19 stories. It would be quite dangerous to even think about it.

@ Tim,
Thank you and welcome to Attawie's blog.
Here's the poem I want to share:

I’m the invisible girl living next door
I'm the invisible girl drinking coffee alone across the street
I'm the invisible girl studying alone in the library
I'm the invisible girl singing in the shower
The one who always walks on the sideway
They say she never came here
She never lived here
I'm the one pouring tears at night
Smothering the sobs with a pillow tight
I'm the one doing everything right
But no one ever noticed that
They never see me, never hear me
They never know me, never cared
I party with imaginary friends
Where I'm the mistress of laughs and dance
I’m the one living a thousands lives, inside my mind
No one heard my thoughts,
No one cared for my believes
No one knew my phone number;
No one knows where I live.
Don't want to be a shadow in the street any more

3/07/2007 3:54 PM  
Blogger David said...

Attawie, this poem makes me think that you are feeling very lonely. Well, I suppose that blogging friends are not much different from imaginary friends. Still, there are some people here who do care about you! I can't speak for everyone else, but you are not invisible to me. I think your words and your art are very real and meaningful!

It must be hard for you to be separated from many of the people that you care most about. I hope that you can see some of them soon! Also, I hope that you will find some new friends who will really see you and like you for who you are. :)

3/08/2007 9:17 AM  
Blogger aNarki-13 said...

heyyyy i got your phone#! you're not invisible on this side :D

i understand how you feel.. and i liked your poem very!

oh, i once in my highschool years leaped over the neighbor's outside wall (in iraq we have outside walls, not fences - and that was because OUR wall was simply too high, 2metres+) cuz i forgot the key to the outside door and no one was home and didn't want to wait in the street.
so, over the neighbors' wall, then positioned a barrel near the dividing wall between houses, and jumped over that to our house.

3/10/2007 6:56 AM  
Blogger Caesar of Pentra said...

Happy birthday and Women day, dear!

3/10/2007 10:43 AM  
Blogger attawie said...

If you check my very first posts you'll find that I started blogging because I was new in UAE and I still don't have friends.
I wrote the poem long ago but it didn't make sense. it was only few lines. I've only seen invisible poeple on tv. I had many friends then that I didn't relate to it.

these days I'm fine. I don't have close friends but at least I have a nice group of ppl to hang out with from the university and another group from the institute of art.

@ Anarki,
Yup, I believe it's true. but you know what, let's keep it between you and me: when writers want some lines to rhym it means lies could be behind these lines ;)
this rhym too :P

I understand what 2metres+ means, we had 2 meters+ wall too. but we used to have a very short one but around 1997 we had the new big one.

@ Caesar,
Thank you.

3/11/2007 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Through Grace Peace said...

تبرىء الكلمات في القلوب

ثم همس الرب في قلوبنا...
الكلمات تصل حيث لا يقدر السلاح

سألنا حكيم قريتنا، كيف ينزل الدفء
على النفوس والشيطان
قد ألقى بسمومه المفضلة
خوفاً ويأساً وكراهية
على القلوب البريئة
كما الرماد من محرقة السعادة

كيف تنام عيون الايمان
وسرير الأمل
تفترشه ملاءة القنوط الشاحب
وعيون الحنث الفاسدة
تنتهك حرمة الكلمات المقدسة
وتسعد باغتيال هدايا السماء

وسألنا :كيف يبتسم الخير
ويصفع الكره الفضيلة من وجه الخجل
و أتباعه يشوهون ويحرفون فى نفوس ضحاياهم
حتى يصل الاعتقاد
بأن الإثم فضيلة والقتل عدالة والكره هو الحب

تحدث الحكيم
بصوته الخفيض وقال
أن للشيطان أتباع
يغتسلون في أنهار النبيذ في حادي*
وبعشق السخرية الفارغ
يحصدون نفوساً مغشوشة جنيت بمنجل الانتحار

مستحيل أن يكون الطريق إلى الفردوس مرصوفاً
بجثث الأبرياء - عبر نهرٍ من الدم
اعتنقوا مد الحق وجزره الرائع في قلوبكم
تقبّلوا الشك والعار أينما كانوا
لكي تدركوا أن النفس تسعد بالعطف وليس بالانتقام

سطع صوته كالضوء وقال:
ابحثوا بشجاعة في أعماق قلوبكم
بلا نفاق ولا خداع ولا إجحاف
وحين تلمسوا الايمان هناك
ستنزل الكلمات الالهيه دواءً للقلوب
مثل مطر أبدي يجذبه البحر دائماً
حتى يرتفع ليملأ حرم النفوس
بودٍ عميق هادىء ويغدو سلاماً
على شواطىء العزم الالهي.

[أرض الموتى في الأساطير الاغريقية*

3/12/2007 2:26 AM  

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