The Nameless Actor

By: Bethelhem Teame

Nameless. Just another blur face in the crowd. Another character without a line. Another extra in the background.

I used to be quite famous, I used to be someone back in my country…but look at me now…” he trailed in his sentence and searched my eyes to see if I, random stranger, have believed his random revelation about his earlier life in his native land. “I was one too….at least in my own way.” I said it inwardly and cowardly. I don’t have the marbles or the guts to say that out loud. You see, culturally, as a society we are programmed not to engage in advertising or talking about ourselves in public or out loud. Where I came from it is generally frown upon to self-promote yourself or your work. You covertly wait for others to praise you and your work with gawking hunger and deep thirst . I know this is some sort of perverted hypocrisy but what to do? I nodded my head to give him the ‘go on’ he was looking for.

Seeing he now has my full attention on him, he took a drag at his cigarette,  puffing his cigarette’s smoke in style, making small circles that disappeared into the air as soon as they come. I looked at him fascinated….Some people have that effect on me without trying as so much. They hook me just like that and I get hooked easily and willingly. The good thing is that it doesn’t happen often….it is hard to find people who grab your attention and concentration without them trying so much.

I studied his face from his half turned profile, it does tell a story. I wanted to know the story. If I play my cards right today, I might get to hear that story that is reflected on his face, in his entire essence and presence. I looked at the grocery bag I was carrying and I checked the Pepsi can, it is still cold….I thank God. He has started to whistle now, his cigarette long gone but its fainting stench dawdling back……what he was whisling sounds  familiar, something I sing all the time….Oh I get the tune now. It is amazing grace. I smiled. I didn’t want to interrupt his a cappella….It is beautiful and in that sunny and warm day, on the strangely quiet road, in front of the Deli Grocery, from the behind of secondhand bookstand, his amazing grace echoed. I gestured an offer for the cold drink, he nodded his acceptance and stood up to fetch me a chair that was neatly folded under his bookstand. He set up the chair and cleaned it for me with his hands all the while whistling his song animatedly. I sat down without waiting to get invited for the seat….There was this strange vibe about him that wants you to pay attention to what he has to say.

Sometimes, I miss the place I was born and raised up. That place where everybody knows my name, he looked up at me and smiled weakly. It did not convince either of us. “That place where I learned my first word with my first language, that place where I ran and played around with my peers, where the old ladies and gentlemen called me by my name and warn me to slow down, the place where I ever saw a girl who made my heart skip a beat as she passed by the neighborhood street when I was sitting down with my friends who grew up with me, the place where I wrote my first love letter which I wrote to that girl …the place of my childhood and adulthood….” He cleared his throat and I could tell he was fighting his tears back. “But also the same place that broke my heart into many pieces, that same place that made me loath my identity, that place that drove me out of my home, that place that made me wander to other places where nobody knows my name…”

I wanted to cry. I wanted to bawl, actually. But I bit my lips and swallowed back my unstable emotions. Crying won’t do us any good.

He took a long sip from his can and went on to say, “I worked hard in that place and earned a good life and name. I was respected in that place and walked high, my suits embellished with achievement medals. I was big there but I am out on the streets here. That place broke my heart and I decided to wander out….to a place far away from home, across the borders and the ocean waters….to a place where I am nameless, faceless and voiceless. Just an extra on the background when the real actors are in role and in lead in the drama of life. Just another face in the crowd, another character without line…

His face emanated the whole shebang of emotions as he said his monologue about his life….Anger, regret, hurt, suffering, shame, betrayal, disappointment, embarrassment, hate, embitterment ….And again determination, perseverance, wistfulness and love. It was mosaic of animated colors and emotions passing by….I think that is what made his face deep and down at the same time, rugged with scars of life. A face that tells a story, that narrates the drama of his life.”

As I sat there motionless and speechless….contemplating carefully my next words for him, I couldn’t come up with something smart. He is anything but nameless. He was a survivor, a hero…..and the only acclaimed actor who solely can play the lead in the drama of his life….he has deep, touching, motivating and original lines as the character in the lead and  stood up front this time, and I was one of the captivated audience on the front row.

getty_rm_photo_of_man_smoking

Pic:http://img.webmd.boots.com/dtmcms/live/webmd_uk/consumer_assets/site_images/articles/health_tools/healthier_eyes_slideshow/getty_rm_photo_of_man_smoking.jpg

Thorny heart

santella-thorny-heart-1

By: Bethelhem Teame

Chilliness that has nothing to do with the cold weather whooshes by

Freezing my bones, all my senses; I can’t even cry

All I know is I’m cold inside

And that coldness is spreading outside

My heart has turned into an ice stone

Its chambers as cold as a tombstone

Cold, distanced and dark

My face empty and stark

Devoid of any emotions I had

Somehow it narrates that I’m sad

The new Gardner wants to plant flowers in my heart

vowing to change it into a beautiful sight

only to run away after a mere pricks of a thorn

That have grown abundantly without being sown

Here comes another one

And after him follows one

but here to stay, none

I smile but it doesn’t reach my heart

like the sun rays that fail to penetrate the dark part

I heard the heavy bronze doors close behind

 All its high walls I saw them stand

All the visitors camp outside

No guest is welcomed inside…

to the chambers of my heart

to the quarters of my trust

so it remains vacant

The new teacher promised to teach me affection

To make me experience the rules of attraction

To sway my body to the tunes of its dance

To lose myself in deep romance

But when my heels dug deeper into his feet

blood spilled, and I’ve not seen such a retreat

Here comes another one

And after him follows one

but here to stay, none.

If I could post a vacancy to hire a heart,

teacher or gardner?which one would last?

Who  doesn’t run when he gets hurt,

stays patient and vows to protect?

should I hire a teacher? Or perhaps the gardner?

who would actually forfeit his heart?

To pluck the thorns in my heart with his heart…

santella-thorny-heart-1

  Pic:http://openingsny.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/santella-thorny-heart-1.jpg

The unfamiliar bedroom

By: Bethelhem Teame

As he slowly opened his eyes to the morning sun, that cast its warm rays through the windows of the bedroom balcony, his mind slowly registered the unfamiliarity of the bedroom he was in. He thought it was a dream-unfamiliar one at that. A strange one – one that is both exciting and disturbing at the same time.

He closed his eyes as if closing them would help him teleport his body to his familiar bedroom that he has been occupying for a longtime now. In that familiar bedroom, a familiar body stirs next to him every morning. In that familiar bedroom, the rays of the sun sneak in from the opposite side of the room unlike this one and gently caress his feet before it spreads its warmth and playfully kiss his face with its warm touch.In that familiar bedroom, “Good morning” purrs his wife in his ears when he bended to plant a kiss on her mouth.

He knew. He knew what he has done. He didn’t dare stir lest he makes a sound on the unfamiliar bed he occupied. He closed his eyes,trying to shut out everything that happened last night. He was not drunk….nor was he drugged. He knows deep down a drink or two won’t make him walk on fire or play with knife but that is exactly what he did last night. She didn’t seduce him either, she wasn’t such a woman but they have ended in each other ‘s arm. It has happened although seduction or booze or both have no hand in that.

He closed his eyes but only to open them abruptly as if it burned to close the lids of his eyes….he wanted and needed to avoid what he saw as he closed his eyes….she was still fresh in his mind. Pretty, sweet, gentle and kind. She was smiling followed by that girly giggle of hers that drove him crazy with desire- a wild desire.

A bead of tear trickled down from his eye-unannounced and unwelcomed. He closed his eyes again, this time grudgingly and slowly, as if trying to mastermind what he should see when he closes his eyes….oh there she is, the person who he should have been seeing whenever he closes his eyes, his wife. He smiled….but it didn’t reach his heart. He knew the result was forced, it didn’t come out naturally. He hates anything that lacks sincerity and he knows more than anyone he is not being real to his heart.

The body next him stirred, slow groans of sleepiness followed by movement under the bed sheet. He tried to shut his eyes and pretended to be asleep….but he was scared to death to find out that his body doesn’t listen to him whenever she is around him. He was alert all of the sudden. He wanted to see her face as she wakes up….would she look like an angel even with her tussled hair and sleepy eyes? He turned around to confirm his doubts…her eyes were huge with terror as she realized what has happened last night but sleep was still at the end of her beautiful and soulful eyes…her lips have now added volume courtesy of his long and passionate kisses the other night….her hair is now all tussled and disheveled but it seems to add some untold beauty to her face, that face that does wonders to his self-control which he usually keeps at check and at hand.

His hands stretched out and brought her close to his side, that is probably when he found out that he has lost his mind. He was never such a man. He loves his wife. He doesn’t want to hurt or harm his wife. It only has been six month…for the love of God they are still newlyweds in the eyes of the others around. But he can’t help how he feels when he looks into those deep eyes of this woman. It is as if he is hypnotized, as if something is pulling him inside, as if he is in trance.

He often hates her for the power she has over him. But she never has forced or seduced him….either; he goes to her willingly, he obliges to the invisible pull she controls him with, he goes to her willingly but why does he hate her if he is totally defenseless in front of her? what did she do?

shutterstock_111098075-e1387370742366

Pic:http://undercoverlovers.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/shutterstock_111098075-e1387370742366.jpg

 

Stuck

By: Bethelhem Teame

            My mind goes blank and my body numb. I sit glued to the chair I occupied, rooted on the same spot for hour and hours till the day finally wanes out. My eyes stare out lifelessly at the space that stood proud in front of me. And I could feel every single thought and idea in my head somehow vanishing into the thin air.My head feels empty thus very light on my shoulders.

         I can’t go forward nor can I go back, I am stuck. Stuck thus unable to move, my motionless body however feels heavy despite the lightness of my head- this I observe with askance.

         The clock on the wall signals a full hour- I barely notice the time. My eyes fill with tears and beads of tears trickle down my cheeks. ‘Tears?’ part of me forces itself to think and ask questions despite the emptiness of my head, despite the unwillingness of my brain to restart from its hibernation mode it’s been for a while now. But my eyes were not crying because I was sad, nor was I crying out of joy or happiness as you may have a passing doubt. In fact, I wasn’t even crying. But that my eyes spilled out pearls of liquids from inside. Just that my eyes were wide open for hours without blinking even for once. It was just a natural response of the lacrimal gland of my eyes, a natural procedure of secretion of fluid drops to protect the senses of sight.

       A king-sized headache knocks at the hallow head of mine, my pulses were slowing down and my temperature dropping low with time. The ground below my feet seems to be moving round and round in slow motion, rocking me to the world of the mighty sleep that I fear so much. My breath was deepening and heaving, my eyelids were closing on their own accord. All my systems were shutting down and I was slipping into this frightening unconsciousness and the world of the unknown we often travel at times.

            I tried to fight the empowering presence of sleep that was hovering over me but the fight proves to be even more tiring. ‘Maybe I should just give in and let the waves of the mighty sleep lullaby me to its embrace ‘-I thought of giving in but my body and my mind weren’t in coherence anymore and were working on different directions of actions that suck the last fiber in my body I thought I had stored up. It is the toughest war to ever wage- the battle between the head and the heart-. I get exhausted and lethargically wave the white flag to blow the fanfare of my surrender to the merciless clutches of sleep.
Maybe I wasn’t really stuck. Maybe I was too lazy to standup. Maybe I was too tired to move and self-hypnotized myself to this situation I am in now.

              My eyes are now shut and my body goes limp, I fell off the chair I occupied earlier and the ground welcomes me to its cold accommodation. My heart fails little by little at each minute, my bones rebel against my head. Enraged my mind builds its own frontiers to protect the semblance of self-control left within. Sleep tried to control my senses and I , but I wasn’t yet willing to cash in all my control over my body to the mighty sleep, not yet anyway. I keep slipping back and forth between the two worlds of consciousness and unconsciousness. “This is cheating!”, a little voice inside me warns me sternly. ‘Choose one of these worlds. You can’t be in between, this is cheating nature.’ But I try to silence the little voice inside me and play deaf.

            The world between the two worlds is confusing, much more confusing than my reality in the conscious world. The rules are blurred and the stakes involved change suddenly ,puffing off like the foams of clouds in the sky. The far seems near but is never near, the loud is never loud enough-in fact it is mute. Speed and time lose their meaning. Everything is blur, unedited, unabridged, unsure and sudden. I ran but can’t seem to reach, I shout but not loud enough, I fight and wrestle but with no victory to brag about…..

            ‘You must choose one, and then your confusion would be over….’ The voice fades away as if it is being said from far the other side, the echo of its messages vibrate in my ears so loud. ‘I must choose one!’ I say to myself in an incoherent language. My body tells me to surrender and slip into sleep while my mind tells me to wake up and face reality like the heroine I am – my mother’s daughter-. Either way I must make my decision quick and react.

                The world outside goes on, so does life-uninterrupted. Maybe I was a lonely dolphin in my earlier life I seem to move about while sleeping in and out. But I came to realize something now, one thing is for sure and that is even the mighty sleep for once couldn’t win me over when my mind and body unite. Alas, I am tired and I no longer want to be stuck between consciousness and unconsciousness…..I have chosen to close my eyes and sleep till I am ready enough to face my realities outside (Hmmm who am I kidding now? I once read somewhere ……as a rose should shut, and be a bud again…..can I bud again after I once shut? )….can you believe this….sleep eludes me at last. When I decided to choose its side.

         O sleep! O gentle sleep! Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frightenthee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down and steep my senses in forgetfulness??Shakespeare, HenryIV, part II.

its-stuck

pic: http://androxa.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/please-hear-what-im-not-saying/its-stuck/

    In the name of romance

 By: Bethelhem Teame

   My first true love, pure and innocent, was an Arab man
His eyes dark with kohl and long dark eyelash
His embrace was so warm I often rest in his arms

A sip of his love
And I travel all the way to the Mediterranean
All spicy, a hint of coriander and a touch of cinnamon
however, as I grew up, my passions became dark
I ran away and didn’t look back

Across borders, the seven seas and vast land
I sought solace in the affection of my newfound love

A gentle Italian man;
strapped with dark passion, intense flavored
captivated my whole sense, my body and mind
Keep drawing me in to his strong charms

Illy was the name of my love
and he made me experience all sorts of hight
This wanderer heart of mine travels at times
What started as an innocent encounter ended up otherwise

My affair in America as brief as a blink of an eye
but now have become to mean part of my life

day and night I think of that
and memories come rushing out
this is my ongoing affair with Starbucks.

 

Image

Kayla. “Fireplace Drinks.” Be Beautiful. N.p., 19 June 2014. Web. 2 July 2014.
<http://enzaessentials.wordpress.com&gt;.

Come up for air

By: Bethelhem Teame

Fighting gets exhausting
When the waves are closing in
Your hands want to give up
Ready to wave the white flag

Your knees are no longer in control
Your mind is in turmoil
You want to close your eyes
Reality sucks otherwise

But to float, float and float
To the light on the other end that is bright
Beyond that vast land of the color white

The little voice in you screams in pain
‘Fight!’ ‘Fight!’, ‘Fight!’ it orders time and again
You hear but you don’t listen

All your senses seem to be frozen
But giving up is actually easy
You just trade your last breath in
You want to forget about everything
But instead of floating you are drowning

Hmm..once you stop fighting
That’s when you stop floating
And that’s when you start drowning

‘Open your eyes..’ now it no longer is order but a plea
The little voice begs from the waters of the sea
‘Come up for air despite everything else….
Come up for air against all odds…
Come up for air against all waves….

Come up for air against all forces…
Against the tides and strong winds

Try it once…
One breathe at a time
One stroke per time
You will see the shore in no time
‘Come up for air!’ shouts the voice one more time.