Friday, January 11, 2013

Looking for Godot

What an arduous chore.

Sitting on a chair by the door, shoes on, jacket in hand, an old man waits for his ride. He stands up, checks his wallet, his keys, sits back down. Taking his glasses off, he wipes them with the special cloth from his pocket, looks at his watch.

An hour passes.

He sits in the waiting room. Freezing cold air hits his head. He looks up. An air duct right above him blows straight into his face. He moves to another chair, close to the glass door warmed by bright sun light. The flat screen TV mounted in a corner is running a cooking show. Grilled Salmon. He checks his watch, 8:30 a.m., too early for Salmon. His eyes roam over to the receptionist; lower half of her body hidden behind a desk.
She smiles.
He raises his eyebrows.
Soon, she mouths, points at the giant clock on the wall and lifts up her hand. She spreads manicured fingers apart. Five finger nails sparkle with stars and stripes. Really long nails.
He wonders how she can do anything with those nails, brush her teeth, hold a pen, eat a sandwich, go to the bathroom.
Tap, click. Tap, click. Tap, click. Her nails dance on the keyboard.
He scratches his head. At least she can do that.

Thirty-five minutes pass. The cooking show is followed by another cooking show, different host backing different pies.

On top of the examination table, his feet dangle. He pulls his dark socks as far up as they go. The flimsy gown barely covering his body scratches his back. The gown has been washed to death, original colors either blue or green. Are those flower prints? He takes off his glasses to have a better look. Hearts. Gray hearts. Do they think they're funny? He becomes angry. Why can't they have new gowns with red healthy hearts?

Forty minutes pass.

The doctor walks in. She briefly makes eye contact, flips open a folder and discusses her findings.
The old man listens patiently, tracing with one finger gray hearts, counting them. He imagines the one lazily beating in his chest as colorless as the ones under his finger. Warnings and instructions are repeated; prescriptions are handed over, more pills for his collection. No cure. The damage remains done.

He goes home, nothing new learned, nothing solved.  What a waste of time this waiting game he has to play. Will Godot ever come?

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


  1. I enjoyed reading this piece. Captivating.

  2. I wholeheartedly second Aladin's opinion, "captivating" to describe my feelings about the piece. Not exactly "enjoyed" though, powerful, thought provoking and well written, hallmarks of a good writer..n'est-ce pas?!! Style suited to content.
    Yet again, very near the quick; strong deja vu feelings, words transporting me there, both as the waiter and the waiter for. As Samuel Beckett once commented about His Godot," my play is about small men in a big space" applies here as well. Now, I have to go and look for Sesame Street's Waiting for Elmo, to watch, or the film, Waiting for Woody Allen!! :)
    Well done.
    Ali Dabbagh

    1. Ali, Beckett's Godot is still out there, waiting to be summoned.

  3. Love your train of thoughts. So nicely told. Sana


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