Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘story

It is that good. I decided Not to jump to the last chapter, and managed it.

I am reading “Mr. Gwyn” by Alessandro Baricco, a French translation. I don’t dare jump to the last chapter. Even if the ending is Not that satisfactory, I wouldn’t mind repeating the experiment by changing the variables, in the timing, the luminosity, the music and the setting…

I did finish the book and stuck to my decision, Not to jump to the last chapter.

This book was by my side in this “private” library that I have been patronizing for 15 years, walking every day 2 kms to read and write, rain or shine. And for an entire month, I have been reading other books, until there were none left to read.

I didn’t mean for this article to be a review, but the many ideas that generated in me forced me to write about it. So, it is up to the reader to categorize this article.

Is it true that, on average, a person has a precise memory of 8 weather conditions in his life time? Like his wedding, the death of a dear member of his family, the first day of a major war, the assassination of his President, a mass massacre in his neighborhood…?

For sure , we can retain particular weather conditions, specific environmental setting… in our lifetime, but I contend that they do Not coincide with the event a person think matches his memory.

We tend to give an event to particular sensations, simply because we refuse to admit that it is the “hazard” that met us.

Is it true that we do have a certain idea of ourselves, a draft version, confusing, but a story that to bring us back “home”, to who we are?

Disparate sections in a book that we attach to an imaginary personality? We are finally a story and Not a living person, a story re-assembled for various events, sensations, a light or color that correspond to our liking, a noise, a rhyme, a rhythm, a landscape, a house, a street, a friendship, an event…

Fragments of a lifetime that we try to re-construct so that we feel that we are “back home“, to who we essentially are .

I conjecture that our night dreams are what our brain re-construct of our state of mind and body during the day or within the week. Kind of if we take time to write what happened to us during the day, events and sensations… somewhat the brain will deliver a better version of what you experienced.

If we admit that night dreams affect how the next day will unfold, how our week will proceed, how our projects will be altered… maybe we will tend to take time remembering what happened during the day before going to bed. A diary is a better platform to enjoy a more serene and satisfactory dream that can “prime” our lives.

Can you observe a person for weeks and be able to describe him so well he feels he is “back home”? Good painters could do that. Possibly a composer may be able to convey the essential of a lifetime of a person.

Words are hard to control and use. Even if you describe a “portrait” of a person and you are satisfied with your choice of words, you still have to contend with the reader to correctly interpret your observation and feeling.

Yalla, that should be enough on this subject.


I Should Have Told Barbara (Jan. 2003)

Note: I decided to re-edit this story by deleting sections that go on tangent.

The day before my trip to Los Angeles in the summer of 1976

The girl friend, of a dear friend of mine, asked me to get in touch with her sister Barbara.

I were in the USA since June of 1975, my first trip ever outside my country.

The International Office at the University arranged a group trip,

For one week to California, for some of us new international students.

We were to meet families in this exchange program.

I did not care meeting any American families for the time being,

But I needed to get away in my first summer and wanted to see California.


The International student advisor knew about my origin.

The program matched me with an old couple in Pasadena, without warning me,

The family had a fourteen-year old boy, or maybe he was their grand child.

I was Not that curious: They looked pretty old to me.

The husband was very helpful and friendly

But his wife gave me the impression that she agreed reluctantly to join the program.

A student from Nigeria was assigned to the same family.

The house was large with a garden.  The interior looked old, traditional, gloomy,

Dark and smelling like it was never aerated and reeking of old people.


The same evening they asked the Nigerian student a few questions

But I was spared this torture, may be because I didn’t look that forthcoming.

Or that they figured out I’ll be very sensitive to whatever pertinent questions they might ask.

It is a crime to surprise youth among old people.

Youth has to be forewarned, to be prepared on what to expect from elder people.


Youth has to be reminded that elderly can be wonderful and much active,

That elder people are great people, still very much living humans,

Who could be funny, charming and could be very functional…


We had a general gathering the first day with all the host families and various students,

Then we were given the daily program of places to see and I barely paid attention to.

We were to see Disney Land the next day for free.

I declined the invitation: Disney Land is for kids.


I remember that I had another chance to visit Disney for free, two years later.

I again declined. Disney was still just for kids.

Many years later, I discovered that everybody liked to see Disney, including kids.

I never saw Disney in California, but the smaller version in Orlando with my nephews.

My little nephews and nieces, five in total then, loved Disney.

Not as much as I did enjoy the day.


My host drove me for an hour to the meeting place with Barbara.

He drove two hours to pick me up three hours later.

Youth: ruthless, mindless, uncompromising, and unappreciative.


I still can visualize Barbra after thirty years, coming toward me,

In white shirt, long brown skirt reaching below her knees,

Almost touching her long brown cowboy boots.

Her boots must have added several inches to her stature.

She is shorter than me in an after thought.


But the vision is always of a tall and grand lady.

She appeared taller than me but my pride increased correspondingly, by her side.

Her then long blonde-brown hair was raised over her beautiful head.

She was glamour incarnate.

She hugged me and made me feel I was a dear friend, of long time, whom she missed.

She spoke with effusion and earnestness.

She wanted to know all that is to know, instantly,

About how her sister is doing, what about her sister’s boyfriend who was my friend,

About their relationship, about Oklahoma her home State,

About everything, but nothing about me, or how I feel.

I was glad that I was not the object of the conversation then,

But not so glad now.


We walked together so close, and I was walking on air.


I felt that I must look the most envied guy,

A most glamorous guy in the whole wide world.


I asked permission from my host family to move at Barbara’s,

For the duration of the program, and they agreed.

I walked to Beverly Hills the next morning to see her in the fashion store she managed.

She received me like a VIP and was happy at my surprised visit.

I wanted to be with Barbara every second of my trip to California.


I accepted to attend a conference in Los Angeles a couple of years later:

Hoping to see Barbara again.

It was an important political conference but my heart was not in it.

My friends drove me through Beverly Hills

Where the rich and glamorous live but I was not impressed.

Finally, giving up, they gave me a lift from Anaheim to West Hollywood.


I called up Barbara and I invited myself to stay overnight at her apartment.

She had many friends.

She was attached at the moment to a fashionable young man,

Working in fashion and with fashion, but they had problems.

She appeared depressed and disappointed and not in the mood for me.

Her TV was on 24 hours.

I slept and woke up with the TV on.


I visited her six years later during my second extended trip to the USA:

Barbara’s sister had told me that Barbara was married and living in Oklahoma City.

I met Barbara and she did not look the Barbara of my vision.

Her skin looked darker, her face emaciated,

Down to earth, resigned and decked in simple blue jeans and an old black sweater.


She was married to a full-blooded American Indian, herself a half-blooded,

A soft spoken husband, a polite artist who toured the USA exhibiting his paintings.

She stayed at home designing jewellery and managing her man’s business.

I accepted her invitation for a Thanksgiving lunch.


I went down to Oklahoma City for an important and specific purpose of mine:

I was determined to tell Barbara my secret.

I went down with my steady girl friend at the time.

Barbara’s eyes had an ironic shine looking at my oriental short friend.

She asked my friend all kinds of questions about our relationship,

How we met and what are our plans.


Barbara said to me: “You know someone needs news about your friend”.

She meant that her sister needed to know the whereabouts of her ex-husband.

I had lost track of the whereabouts of my friend too and could not be of much help.

Barbara was entitled to know the truth,

That the first time she walked with me,

She made me feel that I was the most glamorous guy in town.

But I did not tell Barbara the truth.


I don’t recall that I talked during my two hours stay at Thanksgiving.

Maybe it did not feel right at that moment

But I should have persevered on my initial decision:

This truth is hers no matter what.

She could be eighty, but age does not erase the feeling,

That to my young eyes,

She was the most glamorous woman I set my eyes on.

She could be a hundred, but age does not change the fact,

That Barbara made me once walk on air.


Maybe if I had told Barbara, I wouldn’t have wrote this story.

Doppelganger? Or what promise of exclusive love does to you…

Do you believe in magic? Like the possibility of your shadow gaining autonomous existence and turning against you?

It was 1915 in Berlin. Hermann Blocklin is a master clock maker, and a perfectionist who decided to build the most exacting universal watch.

Andreas Corelli is a mysterious client who wants his watch to turn counter clockwise. Why?

Corelli’s time is counted: He is terminally ill and wants to to observe how much time is left for him on earth.

Lots of gold coins convinced Blocklin to pour in his soul on the fabrication of this special order clock. Two weeks later, Corelli is satisfied with his order.

The next morning, the miror is reflecting an older Hermann. The energy and power of Hermann are fainting quickly by the hours.

Hermann is about to lose his mind in terror when Andreas shows up and reminded Hermann that the body cannot stay young when the soul is gone: Hermann body must show signs of getting older, unless Hermann promise Andreas to extend him a favor.

“I’ll offer you back your youth in exchange of handing me your useless shadow” And a deal is struck.

Andreas captures the shadow of Hermann in a perfume bottle and close it tightly.

The watch instantly reversed its course and started running clockwise.

The next day, Hermann is getting much younger, but he found his adored cat hanging from the lamp string, all his furniture torn apart, and all his working equipment destroyed…

And Hermann saw an obscure reflexion of himself, diabolically observing him: Hermann’s shadow has turned against him.

For the next 25 days, a murder was committed every day, and witnesses claimed that they saw Hermann in the vicinity of the crime scene.

Hermann was in jail, and yet, the crime victims continued unabatted. It could not be Hermann, but Hermann knew better what was happening.

On jan. 12, 1916, Hermann was found dead in his cell with a dagger in his heart, and the crime strings stopped completely.

Did Hermasnn committed suicide to end the fatalities?

Did the shadow lost it and forgot that its existence depends on its master’s body.

The shadow cannot survive his master’s death.

Is that what happens when you promise a person exclusive love? Being the shadow of the other person?

Is that what is referred to as soul mate?

Or an entity pressuring you to promise exclusive love?

Note: This gothic story was taken from “The lights of September” by Cartlos Ruiz Zafon.

The gardener of Time: Death will not catch me alive…

I woke up and a new day was sliding and easing its way in my extended life. My wife is sleeping, such a light sleep, and who gives me hell when I wake her up.

I am watching my wife and blessing the day I met her, and kissed her softly.

I am looking at my two kids 5 and 4 year olds, growing so fast, and I am rolling in my mind this film since they were born…

I am whispering a prayer in their ears, wondering how life will find them when they have their own kids…

Why all these hope, happiness, joy, worries… if we are not intent on transmitting the joy of living to them, this sharing in the mystery of life?

A few years ago, the two kids were not part of the living… and destiny will soon separate us.

I am growing in my love for them, as all fathers did for so long. The purpose of all my education is to harden their protective armature to confront the difficulties of the living.

I am smiling at their soft respiration and bless every intake, wishing to add sprinkles of the scents of eucalyptus and jasmine of Mount Lebanon. They are the chain of love, a poem of emotions.

In our home in south Lebanon, the picture of my late father is attached in the entry hall. Each time I pick up a piece of fruit from the garden I tell my kids:

“See this prune, this apple…? I am sinking my teeth in with you: It was my dad who planted them. We’ll be planting some more trees together so that tomorrow your kids will eat from the same fruit. You’ll keep this tradition of the chain of the living love for eternity”

The anchors of the spiritual and affection take roots in nature rejuvenation and on the love and vision of our ancestors who saw the land and labored for our felicity and sealing the genealogical tree of love…

In fixing the photo of my dad, the gardener of time asked me: “Where is Gido (granddad)?” I simplify my answer: “Gido is in heaven…” and the steam of questions never ends. My kid responds: “When I am adult you’ll also be in heaven…”

And I find myself explaining: “Every living thing is to die and go to heaven, even ants, fish…Somebody is dying right now! And it’s like a cedar tree falling.

 A part of the cedar tree goes to the sky to united with its ancestors of trees and build their temple.
The majestic force of the visible portion stay alive to provide the grain for the future generation.
We were invited at our in-laws for dinner to break Ramadan fast. Around the table, the traditional lentil soup, the salad of fattouch (made of cucumber, radish, green onion, roka… citrus juice, sumac, pulverized tiny red fruits) and diverse kinds of mezzeh like humus, baba ghannouj, mutabbal, makdous, stuffed grape-vine leaves and other stuffed vegetable leaves…
It was a feast every evening at different houses.
Mohammad has comprehended: After death we go to heaven.
Electricity went out, in the nick of time as local provider generators substituted to our candles…
The stars divulged all their dresses made of diamond, pearls, of the luminous Orient sky, a spectacle at the dimension of nature Geode scale…
My kid said: “Dad, is it to this sky that you want to go?” And I am looking tenderly at him: I realized that this question was tormenting him for some time…
I answered: “I love to go to the sky of Lebanon, and even though the sky is the same on earth, I prefer to ascend from the land of Lebanon…”
And here he comes to the charge and assault me with: “And dad, how do we go to heaven?”
My kid was asking me these questions in French, and thus we felt in intimate discussion among the extended family. I said: “Habibi (darling), I’ll explain it to you tomorrow…”
This kid will never let go and insists: “Please dad. How do we ascend to heaven?” and he got this inspiration and said: “Ah! It is the wind that’ll do the trick…”
I found this answer very poetic and hugged my kid tightly and said: “Habibi, for every living creature, one part goes to heaven at death… Do you recall this ant that you crushed? The wind carries up a tiny part of the ant, as an invisible balloon… If you care to contemplate the spirit of death, open up your heart wide to the body of life.  Life and death are one, as the river and the ocean are one”
Gibran Khalil Gibran wrote:
“In the deepest of your hope and your desires rest the silent knowledge of the beyond
And like grains dreaming under the snow, your heart dreams of spring time.
Let your dreams lead you,
In dreams is hidden the door of eternity.”
We went fishing at the town lake, and the cadavers of the red fish served me to explain to my two kids the biggest mystery of Man… The certitude of death and the celestial trip of the Soul? We buried the fish in the garden along with all the necessary traditional rituals.
After death, the fish is destined to return for right to nature…In his eternal return, and the armature of the Soul is fortified by life experiences and the power of love for a vulnerable  creature: Man falls back toward the well of his creator, matched with the colors of the shared suffering and joy, of our free works during our ephemeral passage on earth…
Dad is speaking to us from the death:
“Life is this short trip moment that we are bestowed to travel during our stay on earth… And death is what we have got to live… For the Eternity…We are in only two states, life and death… and in between you may discover the home of eternity
If you dig in the heart of a drop of water, you’ll find a thousand oceans, pure and endless…
If you enlarge your internal vision, the droplet of water transforms into the breath of tides.
If you focus deep in the heart of the moment… You’ll live for eternity.
Do not worry about death: Death will take you at any instant…
Strive for the density of life at each breath
And you may reach the light of the absolute”
The Coran says:

“I have seem my Lord under the most beautiful of images”

“We created life and death: we want to see who among you accomplished the best of works”

Note 1: I located this piece written in French on FB. I asked the name of the author and didn’t get a reply, not yet.

Note 2: The French detailed description of dinner for breaking Ramadan fast

“Autour de la grande table des fêtes, la soupe traditionnelle a base de lentilles et le fattouch composé de concombre, radis, oignons verts, tomate, poivron ou la salade de roquette, roka, ou de pourpier, avec des oignons, du citron et du sumac, de petits fruits rouges pulvérisés, acides comme du citron ; les diverses formes d’hoummous, crèmes à base pois chiches et de purée de sésame ou tahini ; les préparations à base d’aubergine, tel le moutabbal, crémeux, à saveur de fumée, ou le makdous, constitué d’aubergines farcies de noix, d’ail et de grenade ; les feuilles de vigne farcies de riz, souvent parfumées à la cannelle …


Forget destination and enjoy the trip? What if neither are satisfying?  August 14, 2012

Fifty years later, I am under the impression that none of my destinations were researched, Not at all.

I knew almost nothing of my destinations.

I was always heading to the unknown: No one waiting for me, not a single acquaintance to meet with, no one to guide me, to host me

On my first trip overseas, at the age of 25 in the summer of 1975, I was not even accepted at the university, and had no idea of Oklahoma, location, universities and State.

After a 25-hour air trip, landing and departing from airports, lugging along my broken cheap carton suitcase,  it was after midnight and I was in a total blank.  A nice black worker at the airport suggested the nearest Holiday Inn to spend the night…

Is it possible that you head to a metropolis and you don’t make the effort to figure out what to expect?

Is it possible to close your account, give away what you cannot carry with you, exit a town, a city, a familiar environment and go west, east…to the unknown? Not a job waiting for you, a friend to shelter you…?

How can you enjoy the trip in these conditions?

A slow bus, a slower train, travelling for days and nights on the road, not a dime in your pocket, and having to stop in every tiny village, to stretch your legs and supposedly to get a bite on the quick

A slow Greyhound bus, a slower rickety train going south to Texas, taking 17 hours doing detours, going deep south before turning and heading back toward San Antonio… And for what?

There were no communication facilities, no laptops, no internet, no iPhone… Just your seat and the night and the blazing sun and lonely stopovers, see one see all…

Enjoying which trip? And what if you are not a socializing type?

Riding in a car, the driver anxious to reach destination and feeling that you have to keep company, constantly chat, lest the driver falls asleep… And you were not trained to chat and converse?

Driving 18 straight hours, and the driver refusing to make a small detours to enjoy the scenery, for days, and you have to stay awake, for polite and safety sake… Enjoying what trip?

Joining cruises and tourist vacations suit me fine: They are paid to plan, schedule and ride me around.

As long as I am entitled to a good night sleep and a lavish breakfast, I am a clam.

I don’t recall sitting for breakfast, and I love sumptuous breakfast. Actually, if left alone, I don’t try to get my breakfast: it gives me the urge to go back for a snooze at my age.

I discovered that any kind of breakfast leaves me hungry all day long. Sort of the sight of any bakery makes me feel like screaming: “Stop. I feel ravenous…”

Come to think of it, the living sucks: You skip one inkling and you are caught off guard by another emergency urge. “Stop right now. I have got to piss...”

Travelling, the trip, the destination… to do what again? For what purpose?

Just running away from your shadow, the further the better, and being disrupted at the turn of your flight…

To newer situations , stranger in a town, newer set of discrimination, newer re-learning of your environment, waking up and wondering “where am I? Why I am here…?” for many morning, before your apathy sets in and you get familiar with your newer conditions, never improving, never-changing for the better…

All that really changed were superficial first impressions of how people judge you: I grow long hair and shave it, grow mustaches and shave them, grow goatee and shave it, rarely would I change my corrective eyeglasses (could never afford this luxury)

All the while, I never grew an inch taller

All the while, my nose never shrank

As if you change location, you might stumble on an ethnic community who will find you an Adonis, with the characteristics of a perfect ideal male in the eyes of the female gender…

Forget destination and enjoy the trip?

My only wish in life is to enjoy a destination and the trip too.  While I’m in good physical shape… And feeling hot.




June 2023

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