Category Archives: Hekam Umm Khaled

حكم أم خالد and long camel necks

a compilation of meaningfully random short stories experienced with أم خالد herself. 

So I might not always say the correct things at the correct times sometimes. Slip-ups and whoopsies happen. More often than I’d like to confess. Especially to me, and that’s something I had to admit to myself heavy-heartedly. Writing what you want/need to say down always helps, as you can scribble and mark-off and take back and erase anything at any time without having to face judgement from your laptop or eye-rolling from your pencil. Regardless, knowing your weak points and trying to understand how to better them is a tough challenge to face, and finding yourself in an awkward situation where you just want the ground to swallow you whole is a feeling I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, unless you’re into that kind of thing.

أم خالد is usually good in those kinds of situations, she somehow always knows what to say. She says just enough and weighs it just right it’s surprising. I really don’t know how she does it, but she never sounded too-much, and you can always count on her knowing what to say when you feel like you want to disappear, and as I curled up next to her that day confused about everything at that moment, she puts her hand on my head and says

” ليت عنقي كعنق الجمل لأعرف ما أتكلم “

literally saying “I wish my neck was as long as a camel’s, so I would know what I’m saying”, kinda meaning that I should take more time before I spoke, I should think before I act and understand first what I need to say before I blurt out whatever I felt like saying. She was right, as أم خالد usually is, but I didn’t even have to think once before thanking her.


حكم أم خالد

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.