Friday, December 21, 2012

A Moment

I want to write something that would cause people to smile. 

I’m not a comedian, so I won’t attempt forced humor. I’m not witty, so I won’t be able to wrap a bad situation in colorful paper and present it.

I want to write about happy events. Unexpected bursts of pleasure that stop you from whatever mundane thing you’re doing and force you to embrace a moment of joy, perhaps many moments.

Today, a woman received a phone call of such caliber. She was washing dishes, feeling sorry for herself because her scratched hands hurt under the hot water. She had a splitting headache, which was a sure indication of a nasty cold creeping into her system. All she wanted to do was crawl under a blanket in a darkened room and surrender to its torturous will.

Her cell phone rang. With wet hands, she answered it even though it announced an unknown caller. A lady said her name and then broke down crying. Our tired friend’s heart landed somewhere close to her feet.

“Calm down,” she said to the sobbing woman on the phone. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

A few seconds passed. Quick sniffles followed. “There’s nothing wrong,” the lady finally declared. “I just had a baby and I wanted you to know. I’m very happy.”

Tension drained out of our friend’s body causing it to sag, scooping her heart back into its place. She recognized the voice. This was one of her earliest friends whom she had not heard from for years. The woman had found herself a better place on this earth, a good life to live and now, a family.

“Healthy?” our friend asked.

“A healthy boy,” her friend answered.

This was one of those moments, when everything around our tired friend slowed down and then swirled into another dimension, escaping her personal space and leaving her light, delighted.

The women chatted for a while, one hungry for details, the other sparing none. In the end, our elated friend thanked the new mother.

“What for?” she asked.

“For giving me one moment of joy,” she answered. “For stopping my clock, for changing the course of my day, for miraculously turning the hot water to soothing balm over my broken skin, for scaring my headache away, for sharing your happiness with me.” She paused, drew in a long breath and then said, “and for having your baby.”

Lilas Taha is a novelist, winner of the 2017 International Book Awards  and is the author of Shadows of Damascus and Bitter Almonds.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Can you straighten a rainbow?
Can you change the color of the sky?
Can you see flowers carpeting a garden in the dead of winter?
Can you chase after butterflies among rotten vegetables?
Can you hear music in the clatter and chaos of everyday life?
Can you dance to no tune in public, ignoring disapproving eyes?
Can you hold a beating heart in your palms, keeping it warm and safe?
Can you weave heroes out of ordinary men and women? Make them believe it too?
Can you be afraid of nothing?

Have you met people who can do all that, and then some?
Have you fallen in love, yet?

Have you experienced the joy of a loving woman who sprang hope when she ignored the world for you, and you alone?
Have you basked in the efforts of an attentive father who juggled jobs, his mind endlessly crunching numbers to make ends meet?
Have you felt the determination of a selfless mother charging through life, pushing every obstacle aside to let her offspring pass, succeed, or just stay alive?

Are you amazed by those who stand still, firm and immovable in the face of uncontrollable circumstances, blocking danger off loved ones like an iron shield because they have nowhere to run, nothing left to do?

Lilas Taha is a novelist, winner of the 2017 International Book Awards  and is the author of Shadows of Damascus and Bitter Almonds.