Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ramadan Day 8

I got that tricky bitch, the AC working again so i can take a deep breath and begin writing again.

I'm in Sig, again.

Even though I came out of the fasting closet (non-fasting closet?eating closet? closet for those who eat and drink in the sunlit hours?) in the following way: nephew whom I love the best, Omar, was talking about how Z doesn't fast yet, because he's too young. Well, I just came out and said, I don't either. I was standing in the kitchen with his mom and older brother right there. They both turned and stared but said nothing. And that was it. This is not to say I started munching sandwitches and icy fruits and guzzling water in front of them. Really, that is just not polite. But it was a great relief and I repeatedly wedged it into conversation as many times and ways i could figure out throughout the day, just to drive it home and make it stick.

Sig is not much less uncomfortable for it, though. When we eat altogether as the sun pulls behind the scortched hills beyond Sig and the breeze that only comes at night slowly draws in and out of the open windows, the food is still all wrong. Too greasy, too heavy on spices where a dash would have added flavor to the meat, the ras el hanout mix seems a hopeless attempt to disguise the toughness of the boilded meat scalding my mouth. I all but gave up after a few sips of harira soup and picked at the lettuce leaves and used the soft bread to scoop up some filflah roasted pepper dish, as is done here. Oily and chewy and everything so damn red from the blucky colorant: I dream of tender roasted chicken with rosemary, of long celery stalks with a mild sweet to crunch on, oven roasted beets with olive oil: foods from home.

But if you think I might be losing weight here, though, you'd be wrong. My face is puffing out from all the bread I steal and gorge on during the day and all the other food tucked away and hidden in my room L brings me via little messenger nephews and neices, or snatched while the kitchen sits empty during siesta time.

Watch this: When she turns back to the stove to throw slices of salty potato into the boiling oil, I take 1\2 a loaf of stale bread grainy with black seed and quickly duck out, return to the AC room and eat it all very fast with my back turned from the door, just in case.

I have dreams about losing control. Running with out movement and I wake up with a swollen brain fever.
This is shit.

The AC is low, low today. It has got to be 110 degrees and everyone in Sig is running ACs and blenders and TVs and the power dips and dives down and sluggy pulls up but mostly lies flat on its back and gasps. I am right there with it, irritated and foul.

I came here to Sig because I thought I could type up my writing from the past days and post it, but the phone and internet is out. When they went out and when they might be back on are questions that everyone seems to have a different answer to. Trying to puzzle out these things gives me a headache.

It's like when you ask someone how so-and-so is doing. She's sick, I am told.
What's wrong with her? I ask.
Menarifsh. I don't know.
But she's in the hospital, right?
And you went and saw her, right?
OK. But you don't know what is wrong with her?
No. Menarifsh.

And so the conversations go. It drives me bonkers.

What I know about someone close to my heart when they are sick gets into details and I try to puzzle it out. That somehow brings me closer to him. To get a handle on the how, the what, the when what will happen with him helps me exhibit a sense of control, however false.
There doesn't seem to be that need here. I can't tell you why.

Sig. My head aches with the dry heat that has opened its mouth and swallowed August whole. They call this time of year 'smime' and it oddly fits. Say it out loud and you will hear all the possiblities of uncomfortableness.

The kids are at the beach. I couldn't bear to go with. Swimming and not both have complications and awkwardnesses I haven't the energy to face today. I will write about them another time when perhaps the air is cool on my face and my head hurts less.

So I have left the bed today just to pee and filtch food. I have left the bed just in dreams. But I woke from my dream of struggling up steps, running from a couple with a baby whose cereal I had stolen by the handfull/
We see you, they called after me as they got closer and closer.
We're on to you. Here we come.
And I dropped the cereal clattering down the steps, golden balls falling behind me.

It doesn't exactly take a genius to figure that one out. Yeesh.


Anonymous said...

You write wonderfully although the enviroment sounds so confining and frustrating from the boredom/repetitivness of the food, hiding the food, physical isolation and the heat.
How much longer are you there?

JLC said...

I loved your comments about trying to understand what is wrong when someone is sick--a way to get control which isn't real, but appeals to our western "rational" approach to things--and you, Merricat, have less need of that then most western minds. It is a wonderful insight into the differences that make this world so interesting. The heat is terrible everywhere this summer. I keep wondering if that means an awful winter--funny how the very worry can be used to cool off!

merricat said...

thank you, d. it can be a bit much but there is so much to balence that craziness, like the relief and joy of the breeze i have all day in our apt, where we are now.
@JLC:there are so many things about algerian experience for me that i figure out slowly, like the way people discuss illness. i am glad i am not the only one who finds it interesting/