On aunts, newspapers and way-back-whens


–  My aunt Ghada trying to read her newspaper on a windy morning in 1999. 

As I was willingly drowning in endless chapters and titles and subtitles, trying to understand what I had written in class a few days ago, my slow desperation was interrupted by the loud noise of thunder, reminding me that we are still, depressingly, in winter; and I still have yet to confront rain and cold weather, although I still try to keep warm in attempt to forget the dropping temperatures outside my temporary indoor-summer.

My aunt Ghada has been in her room for the past four hours. She was cleaning out her closet and the piles of clothes on her bed only seemed to get bigger every time I went in to check on her. She started losing her head right by the end of hour five, as she had realized how many articles of clothing she actually owned and had successfully stuffed inside her remarkably small closet.

That’s about the time when we heard possibly the loudest thunderclap of the night. Alarmed , we grabbed each other as soon as we could and pretended  not to be embarrassed about it.

As laughter broke she showed me a few pictures from the “old days” and way-back-whens. One of them I’ve included in the post, and she began talking about my grandfather.

I never had the chance to meet him, so the stories my aunts tell me are usually the only ones I can hang on to. They’re also the only ones that give me a little insight on how it was back when I was a tiny human.

,and so it goes, Ghada sits me down on the bed, on my left the largest pile of clothing I have ever seen in my life, and on my right an open window and a rainy night.

“He was an amazing man” – She said, clearing her throat.

“I used to be a doctor’s assistant back then.

Everyday, I would come back home at around six or seven, it would already be dark outside. I’d be exhausted. He would usually watch the news at eight o’ clock. We would set the table for dinner, and would gather around to eat with the background noise of the TV sitting with us at every meal. It was always a must.

We would finish eating, do the dishes and everyone would go do their separate things in the house. Teta (my grandmother) would clean up or read or do whatever she needed to do at the time, and the rest [of my aunts] would roam around the rooms. He would then look at me, and I would know exactly what he would want. He got cataract in his later days so he couldn’t see anything as clearly as he did before his eye problems.

Your grandfather was an intellectual. He was always very passionate about what he read at the time, and he would always keep up with the news in Lebanon. He would always read multiple newspapers during the day; and after his cataract, I started reading all the news articles for him.

I would come back home when it was dark outside, we would sit next to each other after dinner, and as the house would go quiet I would start off by reading him the An-Nahar newspaper from start to finish. I occasionally took breaks to sip my coffee, and resumed reading.

We would talk about politics and and share our opinions about happenings and stories and people. We would talk about everything that was going on, everything that we wanted to talk about really, right there on that couch.”

She pauses to take a breath and I can see a little nostalgia in her eyes as she reminisced about times I’ve never known.

And at that moment, I saw them both talking there, on that same blue couch in the corner. Ghada, with grandpa’s big yellow reading glasses she wears to this day, sipping on her cup of coffee, reading and commenting. Him arguing back, wearing his navy blue pajamas (because I imagine them to be blue for some reason). His feet resting in his winter slippers on the Ajami carpet in the living room, also still present to this day.

I imagined the day to be as gloomy as today, as rainy as it is, and as cold as it feels.




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