Randa Awad is schrijver en publicist, afkomstig uit Syrië, van Palestijnse komaf, en nu in Utrecht woonachtig met haar twee dochters. Awad schrijft korte verhalen, poëzie, theater en artikelen en in 2018 verscheen haar boek ‘Homeland, Bread and Memory’. Als internationale kunstenaar, levend in Utrecht, deelt ze op verzoek van Residenties met enige regelmaat haar visie op de Utrechtse samenleving. Ze schrijft voor ons verhalen en gedichten, ze werkt samen met internationale kunstenaars die een Residentie zijn aangegaan en organiseert activiteiten. Randa vertolkt zo het perspectief van internationale kunstenaars die in Utrecht leven en werken. Als schrijfster die niet uit Utrecht komt, vindt Randa het leuk om verhalen te schrijven over haar ervaringen in het buitenland, of over ervaringen die ze meemaakte in de asielprocedure, of in Utrecht.
Randa heeft interesse om een online leesplatform voor tieners te starten. Dit onderzoekt ze samen met de bibliotheek. Beter gezegd, Leen, de dochter van Randa heeft interesse om zo’n platform te starten en Randa ondersteunt. En daarbij gaat het hier trouwens ook een schrijfplatform. TikTok zet momenteel veel tieners aan tot lezen, Randa en Leen willen tieners aanzetten tot schrijven: “Je gaat schrijven, omdat er een boek is dat je desperately wil lezen, maar dat niet bestaat”, zeggen zij in navolging van schrijver Taran Matharu.
Samen met haar dochter begint Randa een Tiener Schrijfwerkplaats. Ze zoeken tieners die mee willen doen. De locatie is in het Muntgebouw (naast Lombok). Schrijf jij al gedichten, verhalen of column, en wil je beter worden? Doe mee! Het maakt niet uit in welke taal je schrijft. Je krijgt begleiding van een professionele schrijver: Randa Awad. De Tiener schrijfwerkplaats is gratis!
Foto: Randa Awad was met haar dochter Leen (14) en met Residenties-coordinator Lidy op het International Literature Festival Utrecht – ILFU. In een bomvolle zaal deden zij bij het Young Adults-programma inspiratie op voor het online leesplatform dat Leen wil beginnen.
Bijeenkomst 16 december 2021
Randa en Leen gingen met Rami en Nedaa (eveneens schrijvende tieners) in gesprek met een tiental vertegenwoordigers van de Utrechtse literatuursector. Van Mooie Woorden tot HKU en van DOCK tot aan ILFU waren mensen aanwezig om over het schrijven door tieners en het aanmoedigen ervan te spreken. De tieners zelf waren duidelijk: “Schrijvers zijn vooral oude mannen, dus ik vertel m’n vrienden niet dat ik schrijf. Het aanmoedigen ervan moet eigenlijk op de basisschool beginnen. Maak ook duidelijk dat het een echt vak is, waar opleidingen voor bestaan. En liefst wordt het ook iets waar je trots op kan zijn, en met je vrienden over kan praten.” Tijdens het gesprek ontstond het idee om iets als The Voice for Writers te beginnen: jonge schrijftalenten doen mee, krijgen coaching, onder meer van Randa. De jongeren worden beter en delen dit met hun vrienden. Winst voor iedereen. Dit idee wordt komende tijd nader uitgewerkt.
Optreden Le Guess Who?
Op vrijdag 12 november 2021 verzorgde Randa Awad een optreden met het Flame Quartet. In de Bibliotheek op de Neude vertelde ze over haar leven, over de stempel van vluchteling, over ellenlange bureaucratie terwijl je eigenlijk gewoon wil schrijven. Nadat ze ook literatuur had voorgelezen, trad het Flame Quartet (die elkaar leerden kennen op het Utrechts Conservatorium) met met werk van onder meer Philip Glass. Dit dubbeloptreden vond plaats in het kader van het U-programma van Le Guess Who?.
Anderen over Randa Awad
Marian ter Haar: “Een mol die bovenkomt en om zich heen kijkt”
Begin mei 2021 sprak Marian ter Haar (bestuurslid Residenties) met Randa Awad. Die eerste kennismaking resulteerde in dit korte portret:
“Randa zet haar blik op de Utrechtse samenleving voor ons om in verhalen en gedichten die een nieuw licht schijnen op ogenschijnlijk vertrouwde zaken. Het helpt ons aan de inspiratie om eens opnieuw te kijken en te heroverwegen. Ze ziet zichzelf als een mol die een eigen gangenstelsel heeft en geregeld ‘boven komt’ om te zien wat er zich afspeelt…wat haar verwondert en verrast, wat haar raakt en verbijstert.
Voor Randa betekent haar Residentie een verruiming van haar horizon, de mogelijkheid om het schrijven en publiceren op te pakken, tegelijkertijd geeft het lichtheid en perspectief aan haar leven. Dat komt omdat Residenties haar verbindt met een netwerk van (internationale) kunstenaars en plekken waarmee ze nu samenwerkt en activiteiten organiseert. Residenties biedt haar de mogelijkheid de transformatie die ze doormaakt, te verbeelden in haar verhalen, soms heel persoonlijke ervaringen die haar, door het aan het papier toe te vertrouwen en te vertellen, van outsider tot insider maken. Residenties in Utrecht maakt het voor haar gemakkelijker in contact te komen met andere kunstenaars en liefhebbers van literatuur en theater, dat maakt het mogelijk haar outsiders positie te gebruiken om actieve stadsbewoner te zijn. Voor Randa betekent het werken aan haar Residentie een waardevolle binnenkomst in wat zij de mooie kant van Utrecht en Nederland noemt.
Ze geniet van het gevoel samen te komen door een gedeelde liefde voor verhalen. Het vertellen van verhalen, het delen van ervaringen geeft vertrouwen dat je verhaal ertoe doet. Vertrouwen dat je ergens bij hoort en je leven met anderen opnieuw betekenis kunt geven. Randa geniet ervan samen met andere schrijvers en theatermakers avonden te organiseren die van waarde zijn voor hun en voor de stad.”
Gina van den Berg: Over taalonderwijs en Randa Awad
Vanuit Nieuwegein is Gina van den Berg, programmamaker nonformele educatie en culturele programmering van de Bibliotheek De tweede verdieping, aan het verbinden (een term die ze sleets noemt), en is ze anderstaligen Nederlands aan het leren. Een daarvan is resident Randa Awad.
In bibliotheek De tweede verdieping hebben we in 2016, vanuit een gebrek aan laagdrempelige taaloefenlocaties in Nieuwegein, de Taalbrigade NT2 opgezet. We startten met 16 vrijwilligers en een vluchteling, maar inmiddels kunnen we bogen op 50 vrijwilligers en jaarlijks zo’n 250 deelnemende anderstaligen. Voor corona was het elke vrijdag een gezellige drukte in onze bieb. Nu doen we spreekuren in kleine groepjes in de bieb en online.
Drie keer per week komen digitaalvaardige deelnemers via het scherm bijeen. We praten over van alles – over het nieuws, het verschil tussen een windje en een briesje, en spreekwoorden in hun verschillende talen. Zo leerde de Turkse Erkan ons het prachtige gezegde: ‘Als je me een letter leert, ben ik veertig jaar je slaaf.’ Het drukt de importantie van taal uit. Al is het doel van taal overigens, in mijn optiek, dat het juist bevrijdt. Dat taalvaardigheden je de vrijheid geven je eigen weg te bepalen in de maatschappij, je onafhankelijk maken van anderen, je te kunnen uiten.
De Syrisch-Palestijnse dichter en schrijver Randa Awad is regelmatig online aanwezig. Ze woont in Utrecht, waar ze op verzoek van Residenties regelmatig haar visie op de Utrechtse samenleving deelt. Ze werkt samen met internationale kunstenaars die een Residentie zijn aangegaan en organiseert activiteiten. Awad schrijft korte verhalen, poëzie, theater en artikelen en in 2018 verscheen haar boek ‘Homeland, Bread and Memory’. Het zijn beeldende, kritische en beschouwende teksten.
Gina van den Berg
Programmamaker nonformele educatie en culturele programmering
Bibliotheek De tweede verdieping, Nieuwegein
20 mei 2021
Ik lees ze in het Engels, want in het Nederlands schrijft ze nog niet. Omdat ze ook dat wilde leren stak Lidy Ettema van de Residenties haar nek voor haar uit en kwam ze bij De tweede verdieping terecht. Zo kan Randa oefenen met spreken en bouwt ze haar netwerk uit. Zodra de bibliotheek weer activiteiten kan organiseren, vragen we Randa te komen optreden. In het Nederlands. En Randa zal haar sporen achterlaten. En uit die sporen ontstaan weer nieuwe netwerkverbindingen, met prachtig werk tot gevolg. Poëzie als oesterzwammen… misschien zijn truffels wel een betere metafoor.
Randa Awad publiceerde in 2018 haar boek ‘Homeland, Bread and Memory’. In juni 2021verscheen haar tweede boek ‘Hide and Seek’ dat door Al-Aaydoun Publishing and Distribution in Jordanië is gepubliceerd.
Haar uitgever schrijft: “The Palestinian-Syrian writer Randa Awad dedicated her book to the children of freedom in Arab countries, to the children of the land of oranges and olives from the river to the sea, and to the Syrian girl “Rayan” who currently lives in Turkey”.
Buiten deze publicaties om mogen we met toestemming van Randa mogen we hier korte verhalen van haar publiceren. Randa schrijft zelf in het Arabisch, en wij publiceren ze in het Engels (zie onder).
Residenties in Utrecht en Randa Awad zochten samen naar een vertaler voor Randa’s werk. Tot voor kort werkten we met een vertaler die de teksten van Randa, die in het Arabisch geschreven zijn, herschreef in het Engels. In de persoon van Desiree Custers is nu een vertaler gevonden die de oorspronkelijke Arabische teksten direct naar het Nederlands omzet.
Desiree zegt: “In haar roman “Schaduw Tussen Twee Bladzijden” (werktitel) schetst Randa Awad een intrigerend beeld van hoe het is om als vluchteling, vrouw, en moeder asiel aan te vragen in Nederland. Maar haar roman is naast het verhaal van vluchtelingen ook een weerspiegeling van het Nederland waar ze onderdeel van zijn geworden. Dit is wat mij aantrok om de roman te vertalen. “Schaduw Tussen Twee Bladzijden” is een voorbeeld van de literatuur van een nieuwe generatie Arabische schrijvers die hun ervaringen in ballingschap beschrijft. Ik hoop dat Randa’s roman meer Arabische schrijvers in Nederland inspireert om hun verhaal te delen. Ik zie in de tweetaligheid en het onderwerp van de roman ook een mogelijkheid om het te gebruiken voor educatieve doeleinden. Arabischtalige nieuwkomers zouden bijvoorbeeld de Arabische en Nederlandse teksten naast elkaar kunnen lezen.
Randa is ook blij: “Since one year Residenties and I have been looking for a way to make my novel exist in the Dutch language. On one day I accidentally saw a seminar that was broadcast through Media Center entitled “the reality of translation between Arabic and Dutch”. Desiree was one of the translators who participated in the discussion. After I sent her a message through LinkedIn, we started communicating and talking about translation. For me, it means a lot to continue with this project translating the novel into Dutch. As if I gave my memories and my eyes to the audience to read this experience in Utrecht, and broader in the Netherlands, and to take them to places in the Netherlands where they will be moved hearing what happened inside AZC and discover things they don’t expect. For me, to translate my novel means a lot because place where it happened is here in the Netherlands and mostly in Utrecht.”
Eerste gedicht Randa in het Nederlands
Gedicht- Randa Awad
Als ik mijn droom kan kiezen,
als ik het recht heb om over mijn lot te beschikken
zal ik gelukkiger zijn dan een zeemeeuw
waaraan de zee een vis heeft gegeven,
Maar ik ben de vis en ik ben bang voor de zeeën,
omdat ze vrij zijn als ze woedend zijn
en vrij als ze het zich veroorloven
om ons te verdrinken
of ons op nieuwe kusten te gooien
Als ik mezelf kon veranderen
zou ik een zee zijn
transparant en zout
Dan zou ik de kinderen niet verdrinken
zodat moeders niet huilden
zodat de zeeën niet overstroomden
Maar sinds ik een kind was ben ik
de golven wiegden me
tot ik in zeeschuim veranderde
Vanaf die dag
wanneer het hoogtij is
besef ik dat mijn moeder
zich mij herinnert en weent
Poem- Randa Awad
since the grandfather recognized the blue emblem of the UN
the UNRWA building surrounded the camps.
The homeland transformed into a tent,
the tent transformed into a house,
the grandfather transformed into a refugee.
It is the blue anxiety,
the blue dumps everything
the UNRWA flag flutters beside hurt and hope
the UNRWA building was painted blue
the refugee supplies card was blue
the logo above the students ’notebooks,
the walls of the houses
the water barrels were blue too,
and a blue heart for disappointments.
We shrink while Blue expands
reaching other lands
the Syrian war destroyed my primary schools,
and dreams in the form of scars.
I tasted loss in Europe too
it was a terrible blow to loss my shadow,
a drained smile, and a constrained file
a woman who was shattered but does not scatter.
In the darkest nights
like the gravedigger burying the seeds of strain
twigs escaped the crack in my brain.
I endured a lot of pain
raising ahead like a tree
chasing the light flow to grow
One day in the AZC
not only a tree walking away
men transformed into flowers, power, towers
and others savage, damaged but yet can challenge.
Women transformed into
sun, moon, and stars
as well as scars
One child was wild and the other was mild
people cried, died and a lot committed suicide,
others not yet decided.
Don’t forget to look to the bright side
remember after the rain
the sun will rise again.
The Moon’s tears
Short story- Randa Awad
10 September 2020
I did not dare to look out the window since I lived in a room of an asylum seeker center in “Budel”, in the south of the Netherlands. The room was surrounded by the trees of an abandoned forest. I tried a lot to create a friendly bond between us, but whenever I approach the window I find a huge spider or insect stuck to it similar to those insects we see them in science books or on a screen of National Geographic channel.
At night all I can hear out this glassy gap is the sound of the accumulated leaves creeping under the trees, so my imagination starts sketching terrifying scenes as if this place did not display except the weirdness, that how I thought of it, and I am sure the place saw me in the same way.
I think daily of the best solution to sleep, like closing the thick gray curtains which darkens the inside more than the outside. On that day I remembered when I was a child, I asked my mother, Mom do you think if I close the curtain, the moonlight will turn off? Finding the answer to an old question usually carries a special flavor and drags memories from the past.
Last night, I unveiled the curtains, and I saw the moon meandering among the branches of the trees, which were stimulated by the cool breezes that were gently pushing them to the right and left. It seemed that Nature steal moments to keep itself company far from the eyes of the refugees. A smile appeared on my face and it seemed to me that this chorus was celebrating me and the moon was dancing just for me, some clouds were hiding the moon for a second, to return more staggering, as if he was dancing the Samba, the branches of the tree looked like an extended hand to me and such temptation only works with it dancing to the song tune (Make me sway).
It is an opportunity to steal a little joy, as the place is isolated, no musical notes reach there, it is similar to programming behavior on a strict system, the problem is that we came here to get rid of such kind of programming.
This theatrical performance opened the discarded files in my brain, and the moon’s vision triggered a long past memory when I was inventing tales and the class girls sat around me to tell them the story claiming that my grandmother said it to me. Stories about the moon and the sun we can say about the sky perhaps because I am ignorant of what is in the sky rather than the queues of prayers waiting for infinity to be fulfilled.
The tale of “The moon’s tears” The story tells that a little girl who fears of darkness, at night she imagines the reflection of shadows on the wall of her room as skeletons with claws like bat nails, and in order to make the story more scarier I used to ask them if anyone saw the claws of the bat ,let her describe it to us?
All were quiet! Then the girls urged me to continue.
The little poor girl never dared to look at the moon, which she had always heard about its beauty specially when it becomes a full moon and looks like a pearl adorning the chest of an African woman, and as long as she loves pearls, that is because her grandmother gave her a real pearl earring that fishermen brought from an oyster from the bottom of the Darkness Ocean. However, the girl lost one of the earrings and hid the truth, and this secret was hurting her, so she was longing to see the moon.
One day, the girl moved the curtain the moon looked like her lost earring. The girl jumped up saying No …no it could not be true!
She brought the other earring and raised it with her tiny fingers towards the sky stretching her body until the pearl was parallel to the moon. They looked like a pair of pearls earrings and the darkness of the night completed the scene to look like a box of black velvet, you made me thrilled! the girl yelled while bouncing and spinning around herself like the doll on a music box. Meanwhile, a thin transparent gray cloud covered the moon for a few seconds to turn sad after it was happy.
She addressed him: Oh dear moon, I owe you, you returned my earring, how can I save you from this misery?
But he did not answer. So, she brought an empty cup and placed it near to the window to pour his tears if he felt a desire to cry. In the morning she found the cup half full, she drank it and felt a deep sadness raising through her body, as evening drew in she opened the curtain, the moon seemed brighter, the girl kept doing the same for a long time so she did nothing except tears would come to her eyes without stopping while she was studying, eating and reading even while she was sleeping.
Her parents could not bear to see her sorrow, so they decided to send her to Europe, hoping that she will feel delighted,and her fortune will be changed, and her tears will be stopped. Also they heard that the moon there is brighter, and trips are organized to travel to it for recuperation.
When the girl arrived in Europe, she rented a room overlooking a meadow on her first day she opened the curtains The moon looked smiling because people there laughing, singing, and kissing each other under the moonlight and that made him more beautiful. The girl decided to get rid of her sadness by collecting her tears in a cup and putting it at night on the windowsill to water the moon. It wasn’t long before the moon swelled like a sponge and almost about to fall crushing the Earth and to avoid such a catastrophe, they built a long pillar which reach the moon surface prepared with rooms viewing the moon. The girl chose to live in the last floor , and she had to climb the stairs to reach her room so, after long years when she arrived to her room she was an old stunning lady she opened the window and placed her pearl earring next to the moon, from that day people have thought that there is a new planet looks like a pearl appears once a month.
I looked at the moon, it was still dancing, no tears, no empty cup, and no earring I did not close the curtains I leaned on the windowsill and that was the first day I slept standing, in the morning I woke up to the sound of my daughter’s laughter wagging me mama wake up, no one sleeps standing, how did you do it?
-My sweetheart, Trees sleep standing, and Moon too.
Poem- Randa Awad
7 september 2020
I was scared
As a beggar standing in
the corner of the street
six o’clock in the evening
a few cents
in his exhausted hat
The waiting is proof that I exist
but the possibilities are sarcastic
I would turn into nothingness
or shrink as the finger thumb
or dry my thoughts and hang them on the wall
No, I will put them in a frame
like a trivial painting
no one pays attention to it
maybe I slowly disappear as a written story
that a child erases and leaves it
with a lonely dot.
The waiting is a thin line
separates sadness from happiness
either a spectacular Aurora
or a suicide seagull in an abandoned ocean.
Poem- Randa Awad
Plenty of doors
Like uncontrolled growth of
in a neglected wood
A building with a tragic memory
The best way to cease such
Sorrow is to switch it into
For those who escape
I got a slice of this madness
I grabbed it with
a naive smile like a kid
catching and kicking a ball
I kicked the door of my room
I kicked the wall, the window
I kicked my bag
I kicked my head, my heart
my shivering fingers, my legs
my feelings, my features
my memories and my miseries
Until they rolled down far from my sight
Every day after midnight
the noise out of the security’s keys
seep through the corridor
like an earthquake that Splits the place
into two different worlds
Every Thursday after eight at the night
the sounds of the musical notes
reunion the world
In the dim cellar
behind the piano
sits a Spanish man
distills the sounds
like the rose water
drops them into a bottle
hitting the bottle will rescue
from being insane.
A Visit in The Corona Time
Short story- Randa Awad
My mobile phone rang and my mother’s name fluttered like an angel on the screen, I imagined the conversation before I picked up the phone and as usual an electronic shower of blessings and prayers will keep the evil eyes away.But this time I am disappointed.
-Do you remember Intesar* ?
– No really, I don’t, why?
– How not! the daughter of Am Hossam, she was our neighborhood in Damascus alley, she was working in a sewing factory, and used to take some girls to work there, but not you. The important thing that she is now in the Netherlands.
– Hollanda* welcoming here.
-Oh, Randa, you are like your mother, welcomes people and relative.
-You get me wrong…
two hours later, Intesar sits in my place at the round table, I am hearing her roar, seeing her foam. She is stretching her nick like geometric shapes, telling stories using all her senses benefitting from her body language as if she was displaying mime scenes.
So Madam Corona is the one who makes you come from Italy, and your relative in Germany refuses to receive you, the reason is that your brother you sit with him, is suspected to be infected by the coronavirus. I wish the situation will be good, don’t worry, you are welcomed until the issue will improve.
Mrs. Intisar does not shut up for a moment, she speaks like a radio broadcast throughout the day, the disturbing thing that I have been living here with my daughter for three years and she is relatively quiet and I do not speak as much as I listen and read so, the sudden presence of Intesar in my house spreads chaos.
I imagined her as a large tongue hits the teeth like the raging sea waves hit the rocks. What made me more tired that I had to focus with her as she was stopping suddenly and asked me my opinion of what she said.
The first thing that took my attention was her ability to create conversation from any trivial subject, the talk was branching out, for example, we start talking about chocolate and we end up that America is one of the major causes of the world destruction. Our guest does not make an effort to start with an idea and develop it, she is a master in carving pain in her heart like the craftsmen of Al Ghouta turn the wood board to a piece of mosaic art.
As we sat down, she jumped like a spring that escaped from a pen pipe and opened the curtain saying “Open the curtain.”.
– who close it?
Randa are you the one… ? then she asked my daughter the same.
I tried to use the body language maybe she could understands my discomfort, so I closed one eyes and put the palm of my hand over my forehead, but she pointed me to move to the nearby sofa, crumping: move to the other side.
After that she started a long discussion about vitamin D, the sun and her story that she went to the doctor who prescribed her vitamin D and recommended her to expose to the sunlight but no positive improvement happened , then she asked my daughter to bring her bag, she took out the medicine, we read the patient information leaflet, the formula, and the use till the last word.
Not only that we compared the two medical insurances between the two countries, she went too far suggesting that I have to send tips to the medical insurance company in the Netherlands to improve their treatment, especially with refugees, adding such proposals in those countries are taken seriously.Believe me for a second I thought we were preparing a program to save the world.
In reality, my energy was consumed by this kind of dialogue which is similar to those skills that are nothing but a waste of time, even it has no benefit, like the one that broadcasts on the entertainment programs on television, a man eats glass and another places a nail in his nose… And our visitor topics are like nails and glass pieces.
Our visitor used to sit for hours next to the window looking outside, her eyes catch something we do not see it, her pupils like a magnet attract to it until it becomes out of her line sight and swallows up by the horizon her mind builds stories out of it. She often gets terrified that she comes out what is in her coat pockets of dried paper napkins so the white dust flys out of them, bills and hair tweezers she puts them in her lap and anxiety is clear on her, at the end we find out that she is looking for her mobile that she puts somewhere else so we all calm down with an exaggerated dramatic scene.
A few days later, I felt that all my muscles were in spasm and I was nervous, I surprised of myself how many books I read about controlling stress, adapting to change and others, I thought that it is necessary to have a meditation session, I was previously had recorded one of these sessions on my mobile so it came to my mind to put the headphones and start relaxing since my visitor would take a bath, I felt that I had to seize the opportunity, my behavior seemed unfamiliar to me and as two runners we split up, quickly I wore my pajamas I got rid of my hair tie and laid in the living room the lights were dim. I started thinking about my future goal, which is publishing a book but with Intesar either that will not be accomplished or will be a kind of Kafkaism books, then I started deep nose breathing exhaled it slowly out of my mouth tapping my finger between the eyebrows to reach the focus, thinking of nothing, to inter the alpha phase of brain vibrations then relaxing the muscles of my eyes to the point that I couldn’t rest them anymore so they became closed , after that, I steeled the rest muscles and at that point, I had to cancel any external sound I heard and focus on the sound of recording to deepen the meditation, Unfortunately, the sound of Intesar asking for something that I tried to ignore, but she woke up my muscles and leached them like the runaway horse.
She was repeating over my head: Who poured the coffee and wiped it with the white towel?… Randa, is it you?
My muscles no longer knew what to do to paralyze or to become stiffening.
– Aunt Nasoura, my love, did’t you see that I am relaxed and listen to the instructions I am about to….
– Did you still believe in such talk there was nothing better than washing with laurel soap and rubbing your body with the oriental bath bag!
Oh, those days when my father was welding the water heater, which dripping hot water, the calcareous water causing holes over the time… The war came and the fuel was cut off and we are no longer …..
Two days after the arrival of the visitor of the corona time, the house turned upside down, I was searching for the calm in the folds of my shirts, under the mattresses and above the shelves but in vain … her questions were coming from all directions, like sniper bullets, as I climbed the stairs, I heard her voice coming deep from the kitchen: Who did this?
While I’m in the bathroom her sound startled me: where did you put the pan?
Entering my room to sleep questions and inquiries poked me, I became like a freak turned around while Intesar roaming the house up and down, I did not know where she was, but her voice made me predicting her place to avoid it.
In fact, Intesar was evoking all the time what was lost in the war, and during the asylum procedures, she looked like a lost child full of nostalgia and suffering of the homesick. she brought her inherited fear to Europe: “that all people who live in Europe are tracked by the government where they stay.”
All she cares about is to talk to someone, to empty her speech charge like a thunderbolt cutting a tree in half, she wants to recall the spirit of the family that was scattered, she is not able to store her sadness somewhere,but keeps remembering and repeating them, which constrains her ability to concentrate on her present and puts her off her stroke.
A few months passed, the visitor of the corona time stays with us, the news about her brother cuts off. It is said that they puts him in quarantine and no other information about him.
Accordingly Intesar no longer belongs to any place, I really envy her being non-belonging person, I feel that if I had been in her place, I would have been free from the restrictions of possession, space and time, free from all negative external powers, not being captive to the threads of the past that tighten my body as the surgeon pulls the skin to close the surgical excision .
Intesar is one victim of the dictatorship regim systems, that she does not choose. Perhaps she is now in the stage of molting, and what comes next will not be known, as no human being has ever emerged to a fully grown adult and return back to be a nymphs thrown by the uterus in the open.
The surprising thing that she is pretty certain that what happened to her brother is not true she is sure that the coronavirus does not exist and it is created to exterminate some politically wanted persons, so I engaged myself with non-winner discussion for days,I got out of it like someone entering a Milky Way, or crashing into an orb and returning to the Earth with a memory gap.
The coronavirus disappeared and we entered the post-crisis phase, and the strategies of rationing . The visitor of corona time still with us, on the contrary to her name she had a setback that was no way out, she became less talkative.I became more aware of her questions, her place, controlling my tension , and more worried about the victims of the wars.
I came with a conclusion that if you want to cool down the crimes of the wars in the eyes of the world, provide oppressed people places outside their homelands or create a bigger case.
Sadly, we have become excess goods in the second hand shope escaping from the Middle East.
I looked at Intesar’s face , she was sleeping on the sofa while I read Louis Argonne:
“We have prepared everything for those who are suffocating.
Everything they need to breathe.
We curtain the darkness of the night.
We have opened shelters everywhere.
Saving ourselves the provision for complaining”
I have to admit we are not desirable antique, we are like relics that are cheaply smuggled in the days of the wars, to include them in the western museums, where tourists take photos in front of them.
If you think Coronavirus is the most dangerous thing that happened at that time, you are wrong, the wars with their consequences are most deadly and dangerous.If you don’t believe it then you must go to the museums, we had been immortalized there in many forms and colors some of us are carved from stone, some of us are old wood, some of us are trapped in oil paintings, some of us are prevented destruction weapons and the rest had been recorded as victims of a pandemic which was called Coronavirus that killed thousands of human beings that was since hundred years ago.
this is what my mother read to me from a manuscript that is placed on a table at the entrance of the Oriental Museum in Utrecht city.
* Intesar: is an Arabic female name,it means victory .
*Hollanda: The pronunciation of the Netherlands in Arabic language.
The Apricot Jam
Short story- Randa Awad
I did not know that the apricot jam workshops are exposing the corrupted people and revealing the truth. In the late summer, after the apricots are ripe, the women of the neighborhood begin to prepare the winter supplies. Fortunately, our Arabic house was the focus of their attention, and that what increased my love for it. Preparing the winter supplements in our house formed my aptitudes about the thieves who drained the countries.
Do not surprise, the stories were penetrating my small imagination to program and produce them as three-dimensional films, to live with the characters of the film, to punish and put them in the prison, making the right wins over injustice. According to our neighbors’ description, I was a naive and absent- minded girl with chestnut wavy hair, wide hazel eyes, and a mouth that eats and does not talk, as if were created to stare and gaze no more. However, what happens behind the innocent look of filming and making trials are done with the assistance of the apricot jam.
Um-Ghassan, who is the organizer and supervisor of the work, her voice like an erupted volcano. One word from her is enough to make us wrapped around the apricot pile like bumblebees starting the only task that children can do. So, our hands turning into machines separating the seed from the fruit, but as I was outlaw, I threw half of the fruit in the pot and the other half in my mouth. so, the next day I got diarrhea. My eyes were open wildly to pick up the conversations as if my pupils took the task of my ears.
Madam “Fahima” was the official speaker of our quarter. No one doubts the validity of her news, and no one knows about her sources. The neighbors gave her diplomatic immunity for the credibility of her information. That was done after the experience.
-Madam Fahima said: I heard that the wife of (the Greedy) gave birth to a child. He named him after his father.
-Um Ghassan commented: Such people are born with a golden spoon in their mouths, and their wealth grows by the growth of their bodies. When they grow up, they become the owners of the market with its gold and scraps. Fattom commented: luck is not for all.
-Rashida: If the situation remains like that, they will swallow the country, and we will not find the apricots to make jam. God protect us, such people are unsatisfied. Another one whispered with a muffled voice that no one heard but me: If I were born with a silver spoon, I would be the owners of the silver market. My imagination began to produce the film. I saw a baby with a golden spoon in his mouth. When he started his first step, he had a dozen of golden spoons. He joined the school with golden cutlery carrying it on his back instead of his school backpack. In his youth, he drowned in a sea of golden waves.
The voice of Fahima interrupted my imagination: “where are you? you idiot!” I look at my little brother staring at his white swaddle, while he is breathing and sucking on pacifiers, his forehead was sweaty. It seemed to me like a fool framer plowing the ground to earn a living while others using the new technology to do so.
I said loudly: Who is the Greedy? I want to punish him.
The women looked at me. One of them said: we did not account for the fact that the little girl is here. While Fahima’s right eye was contracted a little bit and her face become bigger when she approached me. Her neck tilted sharply at her shoulder. She whispered with a husky voice be quiet!
I shrank to the size of an apricot while I was thinking in her words. Oh my God, how all these women can resolve Fahima’s mysteries? Why don’t I have their capacity to understand them? I feel as if I heard mysteries. One of them muttered friendly: When you grow up, you will understand the story. Years later, I remembered those conversations about (the Greedy) when the huge plastic factory was shut down because of the illegal use of carcinogens.
The women moved to the measuring stage. Rashida, the quality expert, was known for her accuracy to measure the amount of sugar for the apricot jam. After that I accompanied Fattom to prepare the rooftop, she is the most tender woman. She did not give birth. She treated me kindly while she was preparing the stainless-steel trays and the white voile to cover the jam trays. I handled the washing tweezers to fix the edges of the voile on the trays. I was jumping joyfully among the plant vessels, picking a carnation flower to tie it with her hair. She kissed and hugged me with kindness.
The neighbors suggested to my mother to build a second story like Salah’s house, but my mother reminded them that Salah’s son-in-law works in the municipality and that my father does not like to play with his tail*. Again, the puzzles came back. I did not know that my father had a tail. I must watch him while wearing his clothes. The preparation of the jam was completed in the line with exposing the reality.
It is time for Arabic coffee, the smell of the coffee and the Jasmine are in the air, while *Fairuz’s voice is warbling: “The cute girl, her eyes are hazel “. The Singing, laughing, silence, and waiting for the coffee fortuneteller, who predicted for them to have a life of travel. Traveling to Europe and each member of the one family will live in a different country. Also, her foresight that a storm cloud hovered on the cups of coffee, sparking off irony one of them whispered: “God bless you, Europe”.
I got a mental block as I could not cope with their conversations. I stuck to my mother while my hand was on her sash. I leaned on her and slept. When I woke up, I did not find her. I panicked, how a lifetime passed yet I was heedless! as if we were born and grew up over the jam tray.
Where are the women of our alley? when will we meet to make the apricot jam? I hear Fairuz’s voice from far off (With whom do you want to return in the darkness of the road?) sure her voice will save me from what I am already in.
Were we not just a moment ago in the apricot season? What brought us to the migration season? The puzzles returned. My imagination recovers fragments of destruction, war, and blood. Our little neighborhood vanished as if an earthquake wiped out the features of the place. The sound of crying, screaming, and dismembered bodies were everywhere. Sure, it is the nightmare of the coffee and the dark predictions. Am I so little? Is there a mirror? what madness is this? Am I in a hostel or a hospital? I hear a strange language coming outside the room, it is neither English nor French.
I remembered the inflatable boats that were brought to Greece.
Should I have grown up so I can understand that corruption grows exactly like the golden spoon that was in their mouths of those who are deemed to be human? The young man whom I imagined in my childhood drowning in a sea of golden waves, I did not see him yesterday on the rubber boat! I began to regain consciousness and concentration. It is the war that flung us all over the world, like a grain of sand scattered randomly to the wind. Again, Fairuz’s voice “Don’t call out, there is no one”
* to play with his tail: it is an idiom that means to do illegal issue.
*Fairuz is an Arabic famous singer.