Go to ARANIB E-Zine

What the foolish man saw
Jihad Samra

In a town crowned as the most foolish of them all, there lived a foolish man. No one knew his age, and in fact, no one cared to know, for he was foolish, and the town was snob, but he knew everybody, and everyone knew him.

During the day, he used to sleep under the trees of the grand park that borders the law school in town. In the shade of the shrubs he used to sleep, and he used to hear the lies and the promises that lovers exchanged just before they gave it all for lust in the name of love.

And in the park, in the dark shades of the rose shrubs, he always witnessed all kinds of misfortunes and injustice, and yet, he slept with a conscience as clear as crystal, for he did not belong to the crowd.

Not that he slept at all, but in the afternoon, he would at least wake up from whatever state of mind he was in, and when he did that, he would eat the crumbs and leftovers, happy that he was not suffering the indigestion of that foolish town.

The evening time was the most annoying, for it was the time between darkness and light, and he, the foolish man of this town, loved the darkness most. By the seaside, hundreds and hundreds of fools claiming sanity and sanitation contaminated the shores and the roads everyday. Their children, sons of monsters with no mercy at nature, and of course no mercy for a fool among the sick.

He would stand there, waiting for the crumbs, and usually, wishing that they would all just vanish and let the silence come, even if this would mean that he ended up without dinner.

It is true, as they have always said, that the nights in this town were never silent, but when one sought silence, one found it. How true are the teachings of God.

The foolish, nameless, and faceless man, would sit by the seaside, watching the frustrated fishermen and wondering, "By Jove! What did they expect to fish in a dead sea resting?" Being foolish, he never cared for answers, especially not for this question, for it was one of those questions they called rhetorical at high society colleges. But then, who cared? For no one really learned anything there.

Midnight might have been a hard time for Cinderella, but for the phantom, it was the hour for peeping. He would not peep through the open windows of ground-floor homes or sneak through the cracks of bars and nightclubs, for all this debauchery of the night did not compare to that he witnessed during the day, in the park that borders the school of law.

They would curse him as he roamed the town, from one street to another, for they had nothing better to do with their energised and over sexed motives, but to put it all on a nameless and faceless foolish man. But he never complained, for their curses and gestures were the food of his unyielding soul. At least he was known to all and none of them could take that away from him.

And as the rays of light penetrated through the cracks of the dark sky, he would gather the wings of his spirit, rub his rough hands, and walk back to his welcoming shrubs. And it was on the way that he saw it all; empty faces, hollow souls, confused minds, and weary limbs, a mediocre world less than lifeless and more than vivid, but it was all his, and he knew that he ruled there as long as he was sober, while all of them, young and old, dark or fair, had lost their contact with the world.

And God! He loved that moment...for the foolish look on his face became tranquil and smart, as he watched the faceless faces of the moaning town, seek for refuge of its own fading fake beauty. And then, he would tramp around, but never losing his way. And sometimes, one or two of the ghostly pairs of eyes would spot him and their minds would wonder: was the fog swallowing him, or was the town vanishing in the fog. All this, the foolish man saw, written in his log, left in the eternal shades of the rose shrubs in the grand park that borders the law school.