Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘The Blemish

Of Sand and Land: Women to keep up the struggle (June 4, 2009)


            It is 1968. Syria is undergoing a state of socialism after the humiliating defeat in the war of June 1967.  Aida is forty years old and has so far five kids; the oldest boy is 16.  Aida got lost boarding a bus and the family had hard time locating their mother.  Aida had to confess that she is illiterate and could not read the name of the stop stations.  The eldest boy was angry and refrained to talk to his mother because Aida had given him the impression that she could read.  Actually Aida used to get herself busy in the kitchen when asked about school homework.  One day, one of Aida’s daughters brought her the good news: the women syndicate is opening a school for the grown up illiterate.  A year later, Aida is helping her younger babies with their homework. (You may read my post “The Blemish”)

            The Union of Women in socialist Syria was very active and opening schools and artisan shops all over Syria and encouraging women to learn about their legal rights and responsibilities.  One lady teacher said “The Bedouin women are the brightest.  They are like blank pages needing to be filled.  The Bedouin women come to school with dignity and confidence wearing multilayer of colorful and bright clothes, compared to the drab and plain clothes of urban older illiterate women; the Bedouin women proudly shake the gold bracelets on their forearms.”    


            It is mid July 1967.  Nada is trotted by three urchins, bare footed and oversized blouses.  Nada is heading to the “potable” water truck; a long file of women waiting for their turn.  Nada lives in tent #56, street #7 of a makeshift refugee camp 40 kilometers of Amman.  Nada lived a week ago in a house by the foot of a hill and tended a small garden across from the Jordan River in the town of Bethlehem.  Nada’s husband Kamal is back to Amman for the nth time searching for a job.  The eldest daughter Amina is ten and attending the refugee’s school tent run by refugee instructors.  The eldest son Farid is twelve: Farid is not seeing life in roses; life to Farid will be scarlet red: he is getting military training with the Fedayyins after school.  What was taken by force will be recovered by force: International Diplomacy has proven its efficiency 20 years earlier when Nada’s parents were chased out of her home in Jafa, never to return.

            The Israeli soldiers kicked her door in Bethlehem while sitting for supper.  The neighbor called wolf “they are going to blow the house”; the same kind of “caring” neighbor who called wolf 20 years earlier.  Nada is wearing her gold bracelets on her arm with pride: her husband and parents loved her and she showed her loving pride. It cannot look any poorer around the camp but Nada’s Palestinian robe with golden brocades fits a princess.


            Mounira is a young and fragile looking woman; she is a delicate flower sitting on a oversized couch in a villa in the Capital Amman.  Mounira was chased out of her land in Palestine; her husband has been studying and working in the USA for two years now and is asking her to join him. Mounira is a militant with Al Fatah, the new Palestinian resistance organization in the Diaspora.  During the failed incursion of Israel in the village of Karama on the borders in Jordan in 1969 Mounira and 15 other women fighters and nurses joined the battle when they heard the news on the radio.  The Palestinian fighters could not believe their eyes; the militant women fighters can late but resumed the task of taking care of the wounded and the transport to nearby hospitals.


            Cairo, Egypt 1968. Basna is a young social assistance.  She says: “the emancipation of women in Egypt might have progressed quickly. Our husbands do not consider us vulnerable and need protection but still not as equal.  Marriages are still based on economy: the man wants to know how much the job of his prospective wife will compensate his misery salary.  Many women rent their flat and could enjoy the luxury of not moving in with their mother-in-law.  Men are consulting their wives on important decisions, especially in financial matter.  Thus, as social assiatant I have to figure out courses on how to educate women in handling money and family accounting.  A few years ago, the eldest girl had to sacrifice education for the cadet because of lack of resources.  Many school girls have to supplement university expenses by prostituting with rich people in between courses.


Note: These accounts were extracted from a French book published in 1970 by Laurence Deonna who reported on the conditions of Palestinian refugees after the June 1967 war.

323.  “A World Adrift” by Amine Maluf (May 7, 2009)


324.  A Way out of History (May 7, 2009)


325.  Move Inland, Son (May 7, 2009)


326.  The Blemish (May 8, 2009)

The Blemish (May 8, 2009)


            The blemish is this emotional feeling that prevents sleep to visiting you.  It is being illiterate among a literate society.  Illiteracy is the surface fact but the deeper felt blemish is that you lacked the courage to overcome what keeps you miserable and mediocre.  You had the mental and physical capability to learn to read (forget writing), you had facilities that were instituted specifically for you but you failed to taking advantage.  The blemish is that you know that you have no credible excuses for failing to wipe out your degrading attitude that ruined your life and the loved ones around you.

            The German judge and author Bernhard Schlink published “The Reader” of an adolescent who used to read aloud to his older lover Hanna after making love. The lady disappeared and he discovered that she was being indicted for contributing to atrocities in concentration camps during the Nazi regime. Hanna turned down a promotion in the industrial complex she worked in and accepted to be a prison guard.  Hanna decided to confess that she wrote a report on a church burning that contained prisoners and nobody dared to open the doors. Hanna was ready to spend her life in prison instead of confessing that she was illiterate.

            Blemish and the feeling of culpability are different. For example, if you feel guilty that another person was indicted or punished because you failed to confess your responsibility is within the realm of your set of moral values.  There are instances where it is hard to distinguish between blemish and guilt when they relate to character flaws that can be rectified but instead degenerated into blemish for cowing to confront and surmount the difficulty.

            The feeling of blemish does not have to be that drastic.  It is any emotional feeling that pressure you to prefer sleeplessness to cover up temporary cowardly attitude in order to hide facts; facts that are benign most of the time and are due mainly to ignorance and archaic traditions.  Late author Mai Ghoussoub admitted not sleeping one night in Tokyo because she did not know how to take the metro there and refused to ask for guidance; Mai’s blemish was not allowing Japanese to thinking that she is not a cosmopolitan girl.

            The blemish must be more prevalent in our modern society.  Technology is progressing at the speed of a bullet train and many positions require that you keep up-to-date.  Catching up with modern consumers’ good and facilities is daunting and discouraging.  I blamed my inadequacy until I learned to email.  I blamed my incompetence until I was shown how to publish on and that this facility was available for free; I blamed my unfitness for socializing until I realized that I don’t have to and that I rather read, write, and publish because that is what I love to do.

I blamed my impotency for accumulating money because I could not suffer a life long job (just to receive retirement compensation) until I realized that I have a choice of switching one type of humiliation (covert real slavery) to another benign imaginary slavery:  lack of money is mainly a blemish in the mind of society that values greed and financial success over anything else.  My new societal blemish is not handicapping my productivity that suits me better mentally, physically, and emotionally.

At a certain age your range of choices are limited and you have to make the effort, while young, to experiment with the available opportunities to learn varied skills that one of them might turn out to be your consolation prize for living longer than expected. Continuing education is no longer a luxury; it is a new created value that refers to individual and nations with dignity.  Failing to pursue educating your mind and elevating your culture to global problems is becoming a serious blemish to mankind.




December 2022

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