Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book signing Event in Amman, Jordan

I welcome the chance to meet readers in Jordan on Saturday April 16, 2016 at 6 p.m. At TIRAZ center.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Anyone Lost A ...?

A strange thing happened to me a month ago. I waited this long to write about it to make sure I’ve absorbed its events well, and not just write out of a knee-jerk reaction.

Early one morning, my next-door neighbor rang my doorbell. I was up before down like most days. I ran to the door in my pajamas, sensing something was wrong, as it wasn’t usual for my neighbor to call that early. Carrying her baby in a car seat in one hand and looking upset, she apologized for bothering me at that hour. I brushed her unnecessary apology aside, rushing to ask what could have bothered my extremely nice and gentle neighbor. She explained that she witnessed from her window something suspicious happen in front of my house at five in the morning while she was taking care of her baby.

A woman, whom she’d never seen in the neighborhood before, walked toward my house looking over her shoulders every few steps. She was carrying a big black trash bag. The woman dumped her load in my garbage container that I usually take out the night before collection day, and she sped off. Naturally, I was very puzzled. The possibilities of why would anyone use someone else’s trashcan went through my head, but I never - never- imagined it could be explained by what I found.

My neighbor wanted to know as well. So she secured her baby in her car parked several feet away, and she stayed rooted there. I’m so glad she had the good presence of mind to do that, for I didn’t consider for an instance that I should not approach the garbage bin. I went inside the house, threw on a night robe, grabbed the biggest oven mitts I have - they reach my elbows, and went back outside. Lifting the lid, I saw the huge black bag sitting on top of my white trash bags - mine are scented, by the way.  I reached in and lifted the heavy bag out of the bin and set it very carefully on the driveway. Common sense tells me I shouldn’t have touched it, but at that moment, I was just too curious, too upset, and too ignorant to back away. Fumbling with the bag's yellow ties, still using my thick and cumbersome oven mitts, and watching my neighbor in the background slowly inch away, I finally peeled the bag open. I was NOT prepared for what I saw: A collection of math books and . . . a prosthetic leg!

            It’s all right. You can laugh if you want. But I tell you, to this day, I still can’t figure out where this leg came from - more precisely - who it came from, and why the woman was compelled to get rid of it in someone else’s trash can. Did she specifically target my trash can? why?

Relieved, my neighbor drove off after I thanked her a zillion times for keeping her eyes on our street. I checked out the math books for a name - nothing, and tucked them with the prosthetic leg back in the black trash bag. I left it on the curb next to my trashcan with a note saying: 

            When I shared this story with some of my friends, I got various responses on possibilities and scenarios for the source of the leg. And some pointed out I should have called the police first in case it was something dangerous or grave. That possibility never occurred to me, to be frank. But in these terribly trying times, I guess I should have.

            I plan to write a fictional short story for where the leg came from. I welcome suggestions.

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