I wish Amman had a sea
There’s a saying in Arabic that goes like “ complain to the sea your worries and don’t humiliate yourself with humans”. In my city, there is no sea. I sit drowning in all my concerns; like their weight is pulling me downwards as i helplessly gasp for air. Yet still, I find myself wishing my city had a sea I can float on as my ears are submerged in its water so that all I can hear is its rhythm in legato dampening the screaming of my thoughts. It is as if the sea is my lover and the only way I can feel good is to overwhelm all my senses with its elements as it holds me.
On this silly planet I live on, there’s a war and my body is a potential weapon. But I no longer have that fear of getting the virus as much as I fear the explosives I carry in my heart of the troubles of myself, family, relationships and country. I feel more dangerous than ever. I know traveling won’t help nor would pressing myself against my lover’s body. These troubles make you an insidious problem; it’s only a matter of time before the timer goes off and you explode.
This senseless war has forced us to find refuge in our homes as your presence in the outside world is a threat. My window became my dearest property in this cage, but what is there to look at outside of it anyways?
I have questioned my love for my city as the apocalyptic wind blew over it. I look around me, I see the people of my country and I feel lost. I look at the women, these overlooked ‘humans’ of my society who constantly feel dangerous living in their own bodies. If it is my mom who gave birth to me, then I know that it is women who give me life. But why are the women of my country so empty? As if the worst adjective you can describe them with is their nationality ‘Jordanian’. Jordanian women. You can suddenly feel the weight of their troubles when you hear that. They were doomed to be described by a nationality they can never identify with nor give to their children. If you’re not rich and carrying your social status on you to the streets, you are there justifying your existence. You would rather be invisible than be seen. Women of Jordan don’t belong to this city, they are not part of humanity here nor are they a part of this place, they are only a part of its problems.
I have a belonging to the sea that I long for in these times. I remember my first encounter with the Mediterranean was during a family trip to Syria when I was six or seven. We felt a kinship; the sea and I. My eyes saturated themselves with its blue color and my heart syncope-d with its tides. It’s enough to watch it and get lost in the horizon to feel hope, hope that something unknown lies there behind it where the sky and the sea meet. As if, if you look far enough and narrow your eyes to focus you can maybe catch a glimpse of that hope.
But in Amman, there is no horizon. The sky and the earth never meet. The only way to get a view of the city is to be on the last floor of one of its pretentious buildings or on one of its seven mountains. Mountains are majestic, but even here you cannot identify their slopes nor their peak. The mountains of Jordan have also lost their identity; the only way you know you’re on one is by struggling to climb its slopes or when you can finally catch that view of the city. What is this view really? It is a contradiction. Heterogeneous. An abyss. From the last floor of my office building, I see two unfinished buildings resembling the greed and the ingenuity of this avaricious city. And on top of Luweibdeh, my eyes drop to see that abyss. It’s the downtown, the heart of the city where you can feel authenticity and your heart can bustle with life again. Yet even there, you are struck with the dark truth of this cruel city; that it’s only there because the back of its people are bent and their foreheads are wrinkled.
But we are Amman. Us, the kids who grew up in this place. We’ve grown up to resemble it. We live this chasm, the generational one between us and our parents, the one between us and those of a different socioeconomic class, with the ones living outside of Amman, with our generation from other Arab countries, and with the westerners who come to blatantly question our existence in our own land. We live this contradiction, the same contradiction you feel when you see a skyscraper and a cement house of one room next to each other and that one you realize when you read our history and then see our present. Our culture lied to us in the name of traditions and lied to us even more in the name of modernization. Us, the women of Amman, we lived long enough as the object of that eye that sees us. We live unshielded with a law that doesn’t protect us from the cultural response we elicit nor recognize us as an equal. We are our politics; our hospitality used as a coping mechanism. We sleep with the enemy as it defines our life as long as it doesn’t hurt us and lets us a stay on a map. We are the result of signed peace treaties and debts; so we live feeling indebted but with no peace. What is peace in a land separated from war by brittle borders?
I wish Amman had a sea. A surface the sun can reflect its rays on and not burn the tired skin of the people. Waves that can rinse the worries of its people. A water body that can help the people of Amman realize that something is bigger than them and that the sea is more generous. A reflection for Amman’s lonely birds to look down at for company. A sea where at least you know there is life in, when everything outside of it seemed dead. Waves that could maybe stir the city’s contradictions to homogeneity and embrace the tender bodies of the women. Maybe, we just need a horizon to give us hope and let us dream in our city.