It’s been a hectic week at work. Perhaps that’s what made me hit the lowest state of my disturbed cycle of moods that always swing on the self-inflicted pain pattern. Today I felt like steam was coming out of my ears. I’m fed up and can no longer take it. I couldn’t even wait for my friend to give me a lift back home. Farah suggested that we walk, & I have welcomed her suggestion knowing that long walks can completely zone me out and make me forget all the troubles around me.
Long walks are magical, especially with good company. We laughed at ourselves, complained about work, kept nagging about the current situation and emergency plans, made silly comments about other passengers until we have reached “Nini Hospital”. It’s really quite amazing how “Damm & Farez” got so quickly populated with shops & cafes while a few years ago it was almost deserted.
Farah was in a hurry so she took the first taxi we saw. It was rush hour, the traffic was unbelievable and no other taxis appeared… Mum called me meanwhile, telling me that there was a crime near “Nini Hosptial”, some Alawite citizen was murdered. I told her everything seemed pretty normal around and I’ll be home as soon as I find a taxi!
Finally! A white cab flashed its front lights at me signaling availability. Although I have always followed this old policy of mine ever since uni days that states:” Never under any circumstances take a white cab”, I had to break the rule this time. I told the driver about my destination which he didn’t immediately recognize so I gave him directions until I thought he knew where he was going.
I’m used taxi drivers’ talks. I usually pretend to listen because there’s no point in altering any bit of logic they followed in their conversations. Most of the time, I nod my head for yes or no, without any further additions. This time was different. The young driver asked me:” How’s the situation in Tripoli?” I was surprised with the question… is he not from Tripoli? He didn’t sound a bit Syrian to me! I tried to remain objective and said that mum told me there’s some kind of trouble near “Nini Hosptital”…
“I was there but saw nothing. I heard it on the radio. They killed a guy because he is from “Jabal Mohsen”… He was checking my reaction on the front mirror… I shook my head and said: “we can take everything, from the lack of electricity, to no job vacancies, to poor health care but not feeling secure is too much to handle!”
– “It’s terrible!” he exclaimed. “How can we live if we’re going to hunt each other in such a savage way?”
I went back to the nodding technique. And he went back to being the stereotyped profile of a typical taxi driver starting with his adventures and glories… How he works in a factory in Beirut but due to the economical situation, all the workers are on rotation… I drive a taxi for fun…etc… etc…
– “It wasn’t like that during the war… My uncle was a weapon dealer…” He paused, examined my reaction then continued “They had money not like now!”
I didn’t say anything … I was trying to analyze where this conversation is heading… why on earth would anyone be proud of having a “merchant of blood” as a relative? His question about the situation in Tripoli at the beginning of the conversation started to sound even weirder…
– “Are you married?” No, I answered.
– “How old are you?” I’m really old actually. I’m 32.
– “No, that’s not old. How old do you think I am?” I’m not sure..30?
– “No… 33” he said victoriously!
I knew where the conversation was going and I was stuck unable to change the subject anymore.
– “Do you have someone in your life?”
I was trying to choose my words carefully as not to offend him or piss him off, the guy’s uncle is a weapon dealer after all…
– “Well, yes. There’s someone I’m talking to right now, we’re getting to know each other”. I thought I was saved!
– “Yeah? And what do you think? Do you like him?”
(Was he really hoping not? This conversation should be over by now!)
– “We’re just getting started; he’s outside the country…”
– “Do your parents know?”
(What on earth is he thinking?
– “Yes, of course… Both our parents know, it’s just a matter of time…” I said.
– “What a shame! You are smart and beautiful and I was going to ask you to give me chance”.
I smiled at him and wished him good luck… I was almost home, but I made him stop a few blocks away… I feared he might stalk me later.
When I reached the elevator, I looked at the mirror inside. He thought I was beautiful & I thought earlier this morning that I have reached the ugliest phase in my life…Dear Mr. Imaginary person I’m in a relationship with, beware! You’re in danger zone! I smiled and knocked the door with excitement for I suddenly remembered how hungry I was…