Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Bad things happen in winter.


Not going to do the whole obligatory "hello, world!" / zero-one introduction. Who I am, where I am, none of that's relevant.

Relevant: I'm part of something I don't know the shape of. I don't know the playing field, I don't know the rules. There's black holes in my memory. You know the moments right after waking you can remember exactly what you dreamt? And then seconds to minutes later you don't remember so well? Trying to hold on to that memory of a dream you just woke up from, it's like trying to catch fog.

I've found myself trying to catch fog in my waking moments. Still: minutes missing, conversations others mention that I know I haven't participated in. Trying isn't enough anymore. I have to figure out the rules.

For posterity, if it comes to that: this is a record.


My dad, he used to get a few new diaries every december. Clockwork. From friends at the office, from engineers and bankers and diplomats. He'd give me two every december. Clockwork. I'd use them for a couple of weeks. Scribble, doodle, scribble some more. Then I'd get bored.

I wrote a five page love letter to Anousheh (sixth form sweetheart, Abu Dhabi) in one diary, green leather cover, fake gold trimmed edges. We broke up just before I came here to this cold fucking country for uni. She went back to Beirut.

Still have the letter. I'm sentimental. I hoard trinkets, memory magnets. Letters to her, pictures (pre digital, no less) of my parents and the kid sister, pictures of the stateside cousins.

Six years since I left home for good. Two years since I last got to fly back. When you've spent most of your life moving you learn to cherish the little reminders. You savour them every now and then: you and family, yesterday. Your first doomed romance.


Except  the words aren't right. The doodles are off key. The spirals twist when I'm looking away. I wrote to her in black ball point, not blue ink.

I never wrote to her with these ugly fucking words.

I loved her. I loved her. Never wanted to hurt her. Never did.

And these words, these abominations, these perversions...


There's a picture taken on a yatch, us and two other families, a mini cruise off the coast of Doha, close to the corniche. We're about to dock. There's a shadow on the water, a slender hand past the umbrella stand's mushroom stalk.


The pictures, the letters - this is two months in the wind, now. I haven't been sleeping very well.

I've been reading, though. The hand, its owner - its possible owner. There are other explanations, even though I'm still eyes deep in october country.

My mother told me a story, a long time ago, about two tall, lithe figures standing motionless over her and her brother's bed when she was a child. Black and black and black, no eyes and no breaths giving away their presence, the only way to discern their shape by the light of a winter moon behind them. My nani - my mother's mother - she told us the black figures were jinn.

Restless, fickle, made of smokeless fire, prone to little mischiefs and great evils.


I've spent most of my life moving. Three years here, four years somewhere else, ad infinitum. My old man's job kind of required it. My memory palace, these little reminders of who I am and where I've been, they're my only constants.

I can't surrender them. I don't know the game. I don't know the rules. But I can't give them up.

I can't.

I won't.

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