The air smelled heavy with tea, musk, and hope.
I followed the echoes of laughter as they led me to the patio. The sun was shying away from the horizon, and the clouds responded by cracking themselves open to reveal some pink and orange streaks of light that clashed with the clouds’ blue-white demeanor. It was almost magical, I thought. The sunsets never color the sky like this anywhere else.
I sat down, across from strangers. I mean, they were practically family, but I had only been around them for a few weeks. They spoke in hurried sentences, and blurs of hand motions. Sometimes, I tried to reach out and grab a word or two from under their lips, so I could decipher them later. But, whenever I pulled the words out of my pockets at night, they came out withered and empty. It's almost like they're wired to the souls of these people.
Such a shame, I would have loved to take some of their language away with me, when it was time to leave.
They didn't notice me, of course. These humans never do, but I sat there anyways. Looking for something out of the ordinary to capture with my pen. There was the mother I had been following around. She was wrapped in her usual array of colors streamed onto a long cloth they call thobe, which complemented the bundle of stories she carried under her half smile. Her long fingers, crinkled and soft, were wrapped around a white teacup that marked the coming of the afternoon in all of the houses of this country. I don't know what the milky brown liquid in it tastes like, but to me it smells a lot like ritual. Which is comforting. I have always liked ritual, she is a loyal friend.
Then there were the others. They were quite odd puzzle pieces, but then again, this country is full to its brim with extraordinary pictures. This house had a little girl who wore her hair in two braids. Her name was Mona, she was fresh with enthusiasm. I figure she's quite young, you know, because it shines brightest around her. But then again, you can never trust enthusiasm to tell you anything about age. These humans are unpredictable. Most of them dim down their enthusiasm as they grow older, but in my lifetime I've seen quite the number of outliers, I can tell you that! Anyways, Mona was sitting by the young man. I don't know what his name is, but they call him Jidu. I know that is code for grandfather in their language, but he had no withered skin, nor did wisdom come to visit him as often as it does all the other grandfathers I've seen. How strange.
Across from Jidu, on the other bed that took up half the length of the patio, sat the father. He sipped his tea while he flipped through pages of the world. I think they call it a jareeda. I suppose I've told you about it before, it's that fold of pages with pictures and words on it. The humans like to read it in the morning so that they can, later, talk about the things that happen on the other sides of the sea. Many of them put a lot of faith in it and believe what it tells them with very little reluctance, but not this father. He wears skepticism under his seeing windows. I've grown to like him, he's clever, I just wish he would lift this heavy veil he places between him and myself. He would be interested to learn of my adventures abroad. I could teach him a few things about change.
There was a knock on the door, and Jidu went to open it. Hails and greetings filled the air as a few of the father's friends walked onto the patio. The mother rose and walked into the house to bring some more white teacups from the kitchen. The knocks on the doors surprise me as an odd gesture, because no one really leaves their door closed around this time of the day. Everyone is expecting a visit at any time, although they never really know it’s coming. It remains a mystery to me, but then again, many things about this country do.
The afternoon dragged on, and I was asked to leave the father and his friends' gathering because politics was coming. Politics wasn't a bad guy you know, but our chemistry usually doesn't allow us to coexist, at least not here. That's just how it is. So I followed Jidu around for a change. He was standing under a tree, whispering into a little box.
“I’m alright Alhamdulillah , I just miss you. Yeah he’s here, but I don't think they'll discuss any of the formalities today. My father is reluctant, but I told him it was secure enough... but... I know, but... I’m looking for one in Qatar, or the UAE... I don't know if I want to tear you away from... It isn't easy you know... You're all the family I want, but every home needs some ornaments too.”
He sighed, and then began to talk about his day. His laughter was broken whenever it escaped his lips. I wondered who he was speaking to, although I figured it was a girl because these phone calls always made him wear that face. It was hard to describe what it looked like, but whenever I saw a boy wear it his heart declared its existence more loudly, and his nerves intertwined into butterflies and fell into his stomach. It was interesting to watch.
Anyways, that’s almost everything noteworthy I remember about that day. The musk wore off, the tea was sipped dry, but hope lingered on to the air. Something was coming.