The morning was as good as my cheerful “good morning… good morning…”
The clock struck ten and I counted, reaching twelve, thirteen and beyond,
Till my ears separated the clock from the church bell;
Calling the faithful to their benediction and colourful new hats.
I walked up the wooden steps to my favourite coffee shop, book under arm,
And heart fluttering with contentment at this gentle existence:
Bookish, sunny, green, pleasant and restful – away from daily strife.
I sat me happily in my window seat so that I may watch the world go by:
A woman resplendent in her best, walking briskly towards St Peter’s to seek solace.
After her came a shuffling old gent, body tired with age but spirit seeking a youthful blessing from our new priest.
Children ran hither and thither oblivious of mortality and, so, of the God their parents were taking them to visit on this beautiful Sunday morning.
I like to be first at my regular for it is quiet, receptive and unchallenging.
I usually have one hour before the soldiers of daily strife arrive carrying their shopping bags gorged by excessive debts and childlike worries about avoidable errors made.
Not today though.
In walked a tall muscular man, his long hair matted high above his large head – barely dressed in anticipation of the day’s heat.
His muscles were flexing with no skin to be seen for tattoos as he directed his family to a long table –
Right by my little window seat – my silent world.
His wife had her hair shaved all up the side with a clump of hair flying above it in more colours than the rainbow.
Their two daughters looked remarkably normal – well dressed, with pretty faces and clean hair.
And I felt sorry for the little ones.
Good bye peace. Aurevoir happiness. It was over.
They will rant and rave and complain about all,
They will argue and swear and speak like those trapped in arrested teenagehood.
I gave my Sunday peace up, ordered a second black coffee, opened my Life of Hardy and wished that I lived in his time – rural, provincial, green and quiet.
The illustrated man spoke to his wife:
“I hurt my hand on the car door… Kiss it better for me…”
And the multicoloured head bent low, murmured solace and let out a loud loving smack: “Mmmma!”.
The man flexed more tattoos and sang out gently, “Ah! The pain is now gone. Mummy is a miracle worker, girls…”
“Yes daddy. She is. Like Cleopatra when Antony was down…” chimed the older little girl.
My ears immediately sprang alert as the father challenged the little one to recite the relevant lines.
Which she did – so quietly declaiming with a confidence beyond her years.
The mother smiled at all and nodded vigorously given her colourful head a new gentle mood hue.
The father smiled at his elder girl with pride in his gentle eyes which I now saw rather than the tattoos.
“Let’s play quotes, daddy!” shouted the youngest.
“Quotations,” corrected her father. “Quote is a verb…”
And they played. A concordance of Shakespeare, Dickens, Shelley, Milton and Hardy came tripping out-
And fed my tired soul gloving it with Sunday peace again and sunny bless.
And the father rounded the game off with a few lines of Palestinian poetry.
“Beautiful,” whispered the mother.
I no longer saw the tattoos.
I no longer saw the rainbow head surrounded by hairless sides.
I no longer judged these wonderful folk,
Prejudice-filled by their appearance.
They were, illustrated, colourful, in a state of undress and alien – they were so fine within where things mattered most.
And I, snobbery subdued, prejudice rendered dormant and impatience abated – I was full of embarrassed humility…
As I sought me a past to hide in from today’s strife.
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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi