Saudade

“So, tell me something sweet in Portuguese.” I told Sydma, my Brazilian friend who is leaving the country tomorrow: being the last foreigner I personally know in Syria. “I wanna learn something new.”
“Well, I have pride in one word that only, we, the Brazilians, say.” She told me as I inspected her beautiful features. She has the same look I see in everyone’s leaving the country eyes. A mixture of confusion, a touch of guilt and lots of puzzled emotions about leaving a country whom they really liked yet can’t stand handling anymore. “Saudade is the enjoyment of remembering, a feeling that comes to you when you remember things from your past yet you feel good about them.”
“That’s nostalgia, right?” I say, trying to think of a similar word in Arabic. “No! Nostalgia is not always a good feeling: we are talking about a genuine feeling of happiness that comes from remembering things that are long past.”

I laugh and go on experiencing saudade.

I consider myself to be a lucky person, really. When I was young; I wanted a lot of things that people considered abnormal: while all kids wanted to grow up to be doctors, my family had a hard time dealing with my wish to grow up and become a journalist and a writer. “Writers don’t get paid, my son, and journalists are sinful in general,” that’s how my father decided to handle my dream, “you ought study hard and become a doctor.”
Ten years after this conversation I managed to get my first job in journalism. I remembered that conversation in my first day in the office and I smiled.

I’m twelve. My uncle just got himself a Made-in-China video recorder; which was a small miracle back then in Syria. It wasn’t the usual flat screen camera where you’d see what you’re recording on a small convenient little screen and play it back to entertain the people with photos you just took of them. It was the huge one with a little lance and a microscope-like eye spot where you see what you’re recording in black and white.
I took charge of the camera after much negotiations with my uncle who didn’t want to give his precious new toy to a minor. My mother, however, used her influence and got me the video recorder. I spent the afternoon taking videos of my uncle, his family, doing interviews with them and playing pranks on them.
That night, and after everyone went to sleep, I slowly went to my uncle’s room; got the camera, and connected it to my little TV screen in my room the way they said I should in its little English manual. I sat there and I watched the movies with sleepy, yet contented, eyes.

I’m not born yet. My mother is in her wedding dress. I see the video years later and she looks amazingly content. She has this long black hair which was softly decorated with white little pearls. She is smiling to the camera and smiling to my father. They feed each others pieces of little chocolate cake.

I’m 19. Eyad and I are sleeping in bed. He wakes up to me tossing and turning. I had a fever. He jumps off the bed. I see his naked body as he dressed up fast and called my mother. I see his body glowing in red due to the fever and to my blurred vision. I go into a trance due to the fever. I wake up in what seems to me like minutes, but it’s not. I have been in a semi-coma for 8 hours. I see Eyad’s face. He looks tired and worried. I reach out to him and try to sit up but he forced me to go back to sleep. I point to my throat and he brings me a bottle of water. I cough. His eyes are tearing. I cough again and he produces this voice, like he is in agony himself due to my pain. He reach with his lips towards me, he kisses my forehead and whispers that I should go back to sleep.
I wake up the next morning to find myself sleeping on his chest. He was sitting in bed, asleep, and he was hugging me with both arms. I was wide awake but I didn’t want to move. I just wanted to stay in his safe arms forever. I smile, and I go back to sleep.

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