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About the author:
2012 – The heart, its Demons and its Angels, published by Knafaim
What inspired you to write your book?
At the end of 1995, right after my divorce, I attended a Mutual Advice course for a year. It was held in Jerusalem, where both Jews and Arabs took part, sat next to each other, and came to know and get close to each other, despite the bitter reality of the Palestinian uprising and terrorist attacks. This workshop sessions inspired me to write this book.
Here is a short sample from the book:
IN THE NARROW SPACE
BETWEEN THE STAGE AND THE CURTAIN
“I can’t come to you this evening.” Amar tells me. “I’m supposed to meet Sheikh of Jabel Mukabber. He promised to help me with my divorce,”
I just taste the dishes I made for him when he calls again and says that the Sheikh dismissed the meeting for the next day.
When he enters my home, his mood is stormy, his eyes are clouded with grief, and his rough stubble needles, are staring at me threateningly.
“Amal. She was called Amal,” he tells me, saying the name of the girl from Galilee for the first time in my presence. “In Hebrew it means ‘hope’.
When I was a university student I was in charge of the volunteers. I took care of twenty-five girls whom I sent to many places. In the end I was removed from the job, but at the time I worked at it.
There were two cousins with the same last name. One was blonde with blue eyes, just beautiful. I wanted to start a romance with her. So one day, when I needed to find someone for a role, I called and invited her.
But when she arrived I found out that I accidentally called her cousin. She had brown eyes, brown hair and a long face. She was similar to Fairuz. Do you know this Lebanese singer?
We were sitting and talking about the work and other things, and that’s how we approached each other and I fell in love with her.
Finally, she called and told me she could not take the project on herself. So I told her that I loved her, and with me it will end in a wedding.
One day she called and I heard that she was talking in the background. I asked her who the girl was that she was with, and she said it was not a girl but a very handsome guy. I slammed the phone down.
So she called me at home and I refused to talk to her. She started crying on the phone.
In the end I agreed to meet her because I thought I would end things between us in person.
When we met she was crying so much, and finally she hugged me.
She came from a village in the Galilee, and hugging a man was forbidden for her.
This was the first time in my life that a girl had hugged me. And she said, ‘I love you.’
What could I say? Even the quarrels between us was tasteful. Our love lifted everything. And I’m sorry I knew her only in my final year in the university. If only we had more time.
Her birthday was a few weeks ago. I would like to call her, I’d like to talk to her, to know what is going on with her today.”
Amar takes out a tape and says, “Have you ever heard Fairuz? I want you to hear her, how she sings from her soul. I love it!”
Fairuz’s voice curls in the room, cradling me in the Arabic music I learned to despise as a child.
I now live in a small part of the house. I wonder if this melody reaches the ear of Rubbie, who is behind the wall and controls the vast majority of our house, which is for sale.
I look at you, sitting in the armchair, squeezed near the front door in my tiny apartment – two rooms that were originally part of the house, an abandoned Arab house that Rubbie and I renovated and expanded. My paintings and my sculptures fill the room and leave only a narrow path across the area into the other room, which is divided into a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.
You start to dance while you sit there, your eyes closed. Your face softens and a hedonist, slight smile stretches across it. Your black stables are like a hedgehog field.
Getting-old-child. Voluntarily imprisoned in your loneliness. I’m outside of your world. I’m Noa, a woman who loves you, Amar; who remembers the stinging stubbles, and how much they wounded me even though they were hidden in the soil of your skin, remembers the acne wounds that were hiding behind your back and disappeared after our first night, remembers the crescent smile shining on my private Sugar Baby’s face. You were a man that night. A man that was melted in happiness, a living man who was growing and developing, a man who chose to revive his body, and now you’re just getting-old-child who chooses to wilt before me.
Where are you, Amar? ‘I kept you in my distress,’ you told me, ‘and I kept the stone that you gave me.’ And you also said, ‘I left all that was dear to me for sarab.’
You get up slowly and continue to dance in the narrow pass, moving in a rhythm of Arabic sadness which is as slow as a lullaby.
I watch you from the distance of my life’s jubilee. I watch your compatible face, your blood- flushed, sensual lips, your raven hair, your black hedgehogs stubbles.
You are so handsome, so lofty, yet your movements are so heartrending. Your painful beauty pierces my heart, and a sense of terrible loneliness cries within me.
The cozy, that is curled in enemy tongue, playing around and fills me with bitter, cold fear. This demonstrative distance is so excruciating.
“Why do you dance alone?” I cry out to you.
Your hands’ wings are spread to me, at full width. I am cradled in your arms and dance with you. Our matching steps are spinning back and forth.
I feel how our transparent souls emerge from a hidden space and dance together to infinity, in the narrow space between the stage and the curtain that the hostile world left for us.
“You’re splendid,” you whisper to me, “you dance wonderfully. I love you.”
Red twilight is shining to me through the miserable window, and I imagine the inscription which is engraved and seared on the sky, uniting our names with a bi-lingual kiss, ‘NoaAmar Salem’, and I know we will forever continue to dance our love in the narrow space between our worlds. We will forever continue to dance in our bodies and without our bodies, in countless reincarnations, in our everlasting loves, in other couples’ reflections, in our life and in our death, to the heart’s melody, if it has no place it is crying.