Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Conversations with the absurd - Teaching them skills


The sun is setting and I'm sitting in the orchard, under the shade of my relative's olive trees. I'm sulking my father's trees, we've just argued. Again. As I turn to watch our lot to give me some sense of filial responsibility, I see my cousin's wife and her 4 year-old daughter awkwardly hiding behind tree trunks and picking the olives that have fallen on the ground after the harvest. My olives. My harvest. Next to me, my relative is working hard on her garden. We chat while I munch on 'tassememt'. "Have you seen what they're doing..." she tells me while she digs the ground to make space for her future onions. "Yup". "She told me she's teaching her daughter how to earn and save money. So at every sunset she comes down with her, and picks the olives that are left on the ground. Then they go by the roadside where vegetable merchants set up shop to sell on the highway, and she sells the olives there. She doesn't take the olives from under her trees, she takes it from under all of ours. She's stealing basically" "You're going to tell her off?" "No, I can't, we already argued years ago and didn't speak for one year. We can't do that again. When she's done stealing yours she's going to run off home, so am going to clear the ground under my trees then. She'll be a lot more upset to find nothing than to be told off."

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Conversations with the absurd - Bedroom Tactics

I've just come back home from visiting a troublesome relative. My other relatives (women) are eagerly awaiting my return for news. The news they are after though are not those I expected. No one is interested in whether or not she still gets beaten up, if there's food in the house or if the children are now completely ready to commit parricide:

- Come and give me a kiss ! How was the visit ?
- was ok... the kids seem ok, they told me that...
- So... are they sleeping together again?
- what? bloody hell, I don't know, that's none of my business.
- you don't know? you could have asked, I mean she should let him, what's a wife for otherwise?
- oh my god, we're not 1890! What the hell are you saying... I don't even want to imagine where their children came from...
- where they come from and where they go indeed... she told me she lets her three year-old sleep in bed with her. Then the little girl pees during the night and the sheets smell. That's a disgraceful tactic to keep a man away...
- you're a hopeless case... I'm going to make coffee, think of your own affairs while I pour.
- let me tell you about my business. When my man was alive, I showered from hair to toe every dawn, that's what...
- oh, and what about the beatings hey?
-  better a man who beats you than a man who divorces you!
- ...am leaving...
- Maybe he asks her to do weird stuff? Hey, come back, hey... !

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Conversations with the absurd - Reviewing numbers

"can I come in? I really need a smoke..." My landlady

The flat I rent used to be my landlady's "office", a private space that operated under the guise of a public one. She kept her office to escape the non-smoker act she carries on outside, to smoke to her heart's content inside.  Now it's occupied, but she still comes from time to time for the odd fag and to pour out her frustrations when she returns from food shopping trips at the nearby market. 

My landlady "Why don't they review the number of fasting days we have to follow like they review the amount of zakat we have to pay every year? A whole month seems so excessive! 20 would be more than enough, we're in the 21st century and I've got things to do, God damn!"

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Conversations with the absurd - Pregnancy and Cakes


A few days back, relatives so distant you could call them strangers came to visit. As it often happens when recently married women are among the group, older women who have been married a while turn the spotlight on these young brides and the conversation inevitably turns towards the shape of lower abdomens, an indirect manner to fill the bottle (to get information to later shine in gossiping contests) on the brides' private relationship with their spouse.

- Nice bump, are you pregnant?
- What? No! We've been to so many wedding parties, I've eaten too much cake these last few weeks, got a bit overweight that's all.
- Come on, I was at the doctors with your cousin last month and when we chatted she said you might be expecting.
- No, I'm not, I take the pill anyway.
- You shouldn't take the pill so early on, have children first, men love to have children, lots of children, take the pill when you're old and can no longer have any.