الاثنين، 25 يونيو، 2012

We're Still Here

We're Still Here


I don't think we have ever celebrated your birthday. It's a shame really. Do you think it's too late to start? We could celebrate it there, if they aren't killing some more people next December.


I still remember you with your banner, and your red polo shirt telling me to meet you by KFC. I don't think it was there that we became so close, maybe earlier. I don't remember.


I don't want this to be just rambling, I want it to be a "beautiful text" like you say. But the more I think of how beautiful I want it, the more difficult it gets. So I will just write your own testimony, I don't have one of my own. My only testimony is that I'm still breathing – but that's human biology.

Tahrir November 2011

Your phone call wakes me up. You're there, I know you are. You ask me and I tell you – unashamed – "in bed". You're worried. You ask me breathless, with the sound cracking behind you, "is this right?" And in our own way, which is like leaves falling into the pages of a book, I understand. I tell you "Yes, it is. There is no other right" but you already know that.

Tahrir December 2011

You stand between the people, mesmerized by the warmth they give. Stupefied by the heat of the blood. The clock becomes 12 and another day has passed. I count the days, I add new ones, days with you around me. "He was turning 23 this month," you say, "like me". I shut this sentence out, I keep on counting days.

Tahrir January 2012

"Why don't we die? Why are we still living?"
I have no answer. I look at you and change the subject.


We are still living because I do not know what to do with days without you.  That's my only explanation. 

الخميس، 21 يونيو، 2012

Writing Testimony

Why do I write?

I remember the first story I wrote; it was called Butterfly and it was so dramatic – I was a drama queen from an early age. The story that followed it was also dramatic. Conclusion: I am a drama queen par excellence – or however you say.

I enjoy telling stories.

I love it. It is my favorite part of a social gathering: telling this story and animating it and doing all the voices. These were probably early signs of my love for acting. I just only recently realized that my passion is theater.

But before that, writing took up my world. It still does, but in different manners. I'm talking about this because I'm trying to understand why I write.

I enjoy telling stories.

However, it is not only that. After all my energy has been thrown all over the place, after I've laughed, cried, loved, and done everything in a period of 48 hours, I retreat to myself.

I realize that I have to sit with me.

I don't really like doing that. Me is not always the best of company. And so writing became the language in which I tried to communicate with myself.

Now, when I say writing, what am I talking about? I'm talking about it all – the jotting down of anything from that curly head of mine to any other surface – paper or key board.

In the past year and even earlier, I have not been able to sit and write a whole large unit of narration like I used to in my earlier years of writing. Writing took on a new path for me. I was no longer just interested in prose and in just writing in Arabic. My Arabic sucks by the way. But I started realizing that it was a gift to be able to just write anything, in any language and in any form and feel lighter.

At the end of anything that I've written, I feel that I've paid part of my dues to myself.

Now, I am engrossed in a type and genre of writing I know shit about: playwriting. But the challenge is remarkably refreshing at times and at others is just downright depressing.

I am lazy.
I am distracted.
I am emotional.
I am dramatic.
I am indecisive.
I am wordy.
I am a writer.

There, I've said it. But, then I always have this habit of beating around the bush – not because I don't want to be honest but because I probably have an advanced case of the hyperactivity AADD syndrome. Which without, I do not believe I would have the energy or stamina to write all over the place the way I do.

So Zainab, why do you write?

I don't know.

I think I say these three words more than any other ones in both languages I speak.

It's something which I cannot separate from myself; it is the language in which I try to understand myself. After trying for years to write only in Arabic, I realized that it was not the language that was the issue because the act of writing itself was an act of finding my own language and finding myself.

It’s such a cliché – that you write because you have to, because you need to know who you are: because you cannot not write. But unfortunately, just as I am a drama queen, the cliché is a fact and beautiful one for that matter.

I am lucky to have something so special that no one has: a language that is just mine. This language comes out through my writing. And even though people read what I write, what I want to say to myself comes out only in the process of writing and not the text that comes out – whatever shape it takes. So that I have a very own language which only Zainab and I can speak. And it keeps us together, for better or for worse.

That's really something, you've got to admit.

21st of June 2012