Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cause no Coincidence

Responsibility was too early to come at a 19 years of age. Enjoying a greater autonomy running the family business, while registered as an engineering student in collage. Control seemed easy, when the sense of responsibility was cultured at a young stage, moving from a homeland with no perogative and no control on an unfolding life at making by parents and destiny. The sense of responsibility at a greater rate in certain ages, self indulgences and likes also take place, eventually a balance is achieved at a certain corner stone of life, while past experiences become the light that sheds on hidden maybe dangerous unknown experiences to come.
Mandi was enthusiastic, romantic and powerful young man, with excellent dictation, good command of several languages and good looks. Interaction and manipulation was an art to be mastered as years passed by.
The genuine attitude and the ability to convince was rooted in the innate connection to nature at a young age. Mandi spent a childhood that was enriched by contact with pigeons and domesticated animals, spending time watching how they interact with each other, even in the dark cold nights Mandi took the time to check on his little animal kingdom.

On a lay over for ten hours in late march to Cairo, an old companion who shared so much with Mandi shows up at the door steps of the hotel, Mandi was to stay for 10 hours till the plane takes off to the mother of the middle east Egypt. As Mandi and his friend walk out Mandi sees Rajah, she was one Sudanese girl that Mandi liked, a hug and a long emotional pause, it was a long time since Mandi saw Rajah. it was such a happy moment in a city of 20 million people, Mandi was so surprised at the timing, such a short notice and crowded streetsand timing, all of this boggled Mandi's mind. Rajah was in the area to meet with her fiance Nadir, he happened to have an office facing the hotel that Mandi occupied, "Lets go see my Fiance Nadir" says Rajah, the three walk in to Nadirs building to an office space, the door opens to a big office where Nadir was sitting. Greetings exchanged, tea served, and past times stories told, expectations expressed, questions about the future exchanged, there was a sense of fear in Nadir and Rajah, an unknown future with no safety net, it sounded like they would like to move out of where they are now to another unknown.

Mandi and his company left after hugs and kisses and exchanges of contact numbers and addresses, it was such a nice surprise to see friends again.
Stopping by the fast food restaurant near by. The cue was long, and there was this young lady front of Mandi, blond, as she turns her head, she comes face to face with Mandi, there she screams his name. She was a fellow student from collage who hang out at the union with Mandi at times it was another pleasant surprise.

While spending time with Company at the airport lounge, Mandi decided to take a slow walk to the check counter of the airliner, apparently time has passed and Mandi was called over the mega phone but he did not hear it, he was busy with his dear company. He runs to pick his boarding pass, the airline attendant expresses her positive attitude that there was still time for Mandi to board the plane. He was the last passenger to board, as he walked the aisle of the 737 towards his seat, a voice from the middle of the aircraft calling his name whispering, "Mandi, Mandi ", it was another friend who happened to be visiting his home town in Gaza Strip on vacation through Cairo.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


So here I am knocking on a door asking about my friend 'Khaled'.
His mom comes out. I Kiss her hand in respect, she is still thin and weak as I always remembered her. She greats me with such a humble attitude, her eyes are to the floor, never up,a shy smile on her face, she is very light skin with a beautiful face, the body posture is tilted to the front, such humbleness and respect for the visitor, I have always thought.
'Khaled is not home,please, please come in', I apologies gently,She insists couple of times turning her body with an angle inviting me in,

" how is your health"
I ask?
" it is good, Alhamdulilah "
she replies, I ask about her children, and she replies in the same tone, kind of fragile yet firm
" Alhamd walshukr lilah".
" Tell Khaled I will be back to see him"
She nods and says;
" I will tell him my son".
"Send my greetings to your mom and family members".
" will do" I answer.
I then walk back to my car.
Every time I visit Khaleds house I get this feeling of nostalgia, as if I am living the ancient times, I feel very young, refreshed

I feel that I belong but with existence at the same time. A recognized existence by my people, people who share little of my life but occupy most of my thoughts when abroad.All these feelings are mixed with strong ties, feelings of belonging. Where only in Benghazi I am surrounded with such feelings.

I was on a business trip to Benghazi, I had to wake up early and meet the team to get ready to depart for Tripoli after finishing our exploration of a sea side construction site, we had one more place to check then off to Benina airport.
I woke up prepared my suite case, then went down to the grocery store owned by my youngest uncle. The cashier tells me "Khaled, your friend! he stopped by. he had bad news to deliver"," Khaleds mother passed away" he says in an almost silent tone.
Rasheedah was her name.
I have a mother, but I also happen to have so many other mothers. Rasheedah was one of those other mothers I have.
Although the total time I have sent before her is less then a day combined, she represented a missing link in my life, I always associated her with a history of a family.
Rasheedah lived in a street named after my family, she knew my father, uncle and aunt, she represented the unfamiliar and never lived for me.

Her sweet fragile tender voice, her posture that leaned close to earth, her meekness in a sense and the way she would look down when she spoke to me standing on her house's door steps.

She was the bedrock of my dreams about where my parents originated but never lived, the nostalgia of "one day I will belong". A tradition that every traveler, home sick and gone away from home knows well.
I felt like something rocked my inner world and hit me hard when I heard the news from the cashier at my uncle's store, " when, how, where, I just saw her two months ago" I was asking my self. Those are the questions that come to my mind when I hear the word death. My body wants to move and do some thing, it is the rage of the mental activity stoppable by the physical barriers of being unable to do a thing, it was the reality of death.
The Mercedes Vito shows up on Time, Hani is the driver, a young fellow in his early thirties; he operates the Mercedes Vito twelve passenger seats. nice looking car. I hop in, he drives fast towards the hotel where other members of my team are staying, we pick them up, check on last site, and then they drop me by Khaleds house.
My visit to Benghazi was unannounced, I was there on a short period. Usually it is the ritual of going from home to home being invited and celebrated, relatives and friends like to hear the stories of a traveler, stories about the outer world and how it might change their lives, daily struggles and add some hope in to their future, people are people I say to my self no matter where I go, they have the same ambitions, they want to live a good life by all means
As for Rasheedah, I saw her on my last trip to Benghazi, which was two months back from her death.
As I walked towards the house where I would see Rasheedah on her door steps, I saw a huge tent prepared for the mourning women blocking the door steps and the entire house. It is a tradition in Libya to have such a tent for lack of space so part of the street would be used to accommodate mourners who would come in flocks in the first hours of the occasion. People rush to be near the family of the deceased. The neighborhood is one of the oldest in Benghazi, famous for a small market, where horses and live stock would be sold, I was told that things have strangely changed and people are moving out of this neighborhood, Khaled's family was one of the few that stayed. I actually liked that every time I visit Benghazi I could go visit them, it is a treat.
As I walked towards the tent, I saw Kahled, he seemed very weak and shocked. It was a moment for me to show strength. He started crying on my shoulder, weeping, more weeping, " She was with, we were having coffee around ten in the morning" he says, "Then she just collapsed on my shoulders after feeling pain in her head". He was weeping so loud and storng , he was almost to collapse in my arms, I had to seat him on the side walk and sit next to him.

She apperantly was taken to the hospital where eventually she died from a stroke.
I was thinking very fast, what should I say in a moement like this , what should I do, I was asking my self, I pulled him closer y his shoulders and said " all the return would be to the creator, that is where we are all going"
"Be strong, she will need you strong",

" Every soul will taste death, she raised you with your brothers and you are men now, all married and strong",
" She will be proud of you if you stay stronger",
Those were my words to Khaled.
I saw his brothers, Mohamed, Sufyan, but Khaled was the most affected.He was very close to his mother from what he told me in the past.

In a few minutes the casket was ready to be taken to the cemetery.
we walked around the tent in that narrow street, jumped in one of the cars heading to the cemetery. There is a collective understanding in Libya when death occurs, no one asks you who you are, what you are, you just ride with any one and go to the cemetery.
We buried Rasheedah in Al-Houary cemetery, located south west of Benghazi, it took half an hour to lay her to rest, I got to carry her casket,I injured my finger while carrying the casket, there was a nail where I put my fingers and palm to be able to carry it. As I pulled my hand to give way for another to help carry, I had my finger slit open by that nail, as if it was telling me to remember that day by marking my body with a wound.

I helped lay her in the grave and say some prayers, then throw the little soil on top of the grave, it was a remembrance for me that what we live will only be strong with remembering where we are going.
It is the memory of Rasheedah that does not leave my mind, I have added her to the people that I pray for by name in my prostrations five time s a day.