Arabic Lesson with a Friend

Through the alley, up the stairs, I ring the door bell
It sounds like a song bird.
“Marhaba Habibti!”
We kiss, one, two, three, sneak in four times because I really love her.
She brings tea. She brings the fan.
The sheet hanging over the window flaps in the wind
Yellow sun pushes through, exposing the ever-present dust.

Sitting on the floor together
She is unveiled, no men in the room. Long, marble-black hair flowing down her back.
She told me she puts olive oil in it… I try it at home.
Cushions, carpet and tea on the floor. Otherwise empty, like all the rooms here.
People fill the refugee homes, not stuff
Except the kitchen…
Always waiting with tea, coffee and food to stuff the visitors, announced or unannounced.
Today we ate Uzi, a Syrian dish
Rice, peas, meat, peanuts and, as always, yogurt on the side.

We commence our lesson.
She asks, “What was your longest conflict with him?”
We had been talking about conflict resolution.
Why not be real?
“About this,” I said, “Coming to Jordan… I wanted to, but he didn’t”
“How did you resolve it?” She asked.

“It had to become less important to both of us… to compromise”
It had less to do with where we wanted to live and more to do with what we believe about God.
I felt God would love me more if I lived in Jordan and served people here.
He felt God might not provide if we left our work, our comfort and spent savings.
Usually things tend to come back to Him.
We have His love and acceptance no matter where we live or what we do.
He will provide here or there.

Empty tea kettle sitting on the floor
Empty walls, dusty yellow from the setting sun.
I look at my friend and her sincere smile
I pray her life will be full despite the emptiness in her house.

We get up quietly to not wake her father
A tall, soft-spoken man in a dish-dash lying on a cushion in the living room.
“Wake up in goodness, my friend”
“And you are from its family.”


About sarjb

I am from Brasil, specifically a town near São Paulo called Atibaia. My parents are from the US and lived in Brasil for around 23 years. I came to the US when I was 18 to begin college. Just a few weeks after moving to the US, I met Gary while swing-dancing at OU (the University of Oklahoma). He later became my husband. I studied Arabic in college and have lived in Jordan for a total of around 2 years (both as a child and during my college years).
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