So I’ve decided to start a new segment called “حكم أم خالد”, which literally translates to “the wisdom of Khaled’s mother”. Khaled being my uncle, the mother of Khaled therefore being my grandmother. حكم أم خالد will be a compilation of short stories, sometimes random and sometimes meaningful, experienced with أم خالد herself. Women in Lebanon are traditionally called “mother of [first son’s name]”, unless there is no son, they will then be called mother of [first born daughter], or just by their names. So I have been hanging out with أم خالد ever since I came back to Lebanon, and I’ve noticed that she’s got a few interesting stories to tell and teachings to teach and quotes to whip out whenever time demands. We were on the balcony once, watching familiar-looking strangers walk by the old neighborhood when a group of very loud teenagers hurried by, they looked like they were about to start trouble. Their faces were far from innocent, much like people who had done something together and are no longer keeping it a secret. أم خالد looks at them with worried eyes, and as the few remaining coffee grounds sit still in her cup between her hands, she says
” قل لي من تعاشر أقل لك من انت “
Which literally translates to “Tell me who you hang out/ mix with, and I will tell you who you are”, kind of like when we say “ceux qui se ressemblent s’assemblent” in French, i.e birds of a feather flock together. I silently shook my head in approval as we watched them reach the end of the street. It wasn’t the first time I had heard something similar, but it was the first of what I’d heard in arabic, short but gripping, it demanded to be acknowledged.