Saturday, June 02, 2012

A Blanket of Stars

I remember spending one summer at my grandfather's farm in Yaafour, which is now a suburb of Damascus. Back then there were hardly any other villas and at night the entire area seemed quite intimidating. One night I recall a pack of wild dogs walking outside our gates, it was about 2am and our watch dogs started barking madly in an instant. I got up from my bed to look out of the window and saw this pack walking slowly just beyond the main gate, on the edge of the wall's lights. One of them stopped, looked in my direction indifferently, and then walked on with the rest into the darkness. That was the summer I spent reading the Papal Princes, and listening to the only two albums I had brought with me, one for the Cranberries and one for the Offspring. I liked the Cranberries album more and would listen to it often; something about reading a book about the Catholic Church whilst listening to an Irish rock band. It was a nice summer, a time when I was also still in love with H, but she never knew that, and she's married today with children.

I remember once that the electricity failed for the entire area. In an instant we were treated to the most amazing light show that I never thought possible. High above me, the black sky was bathed with a bright patchwork of stars that lit up immediately. It was not just a few dozen stars as I was used to, but thousands. I could see a thick path of them and thought that might even be one of the arms of our Milky Way galaxy. That might be an obvious thing, but nobody teaches children these things anymore. I remember lying on a mattress on the balcony and just staring up into the sky, in wonder, and using up the precious battery life of my Sony Walkman as Dolores O'Riordan sang about feeling empty or how she can't be with you. When the lights came back on I found myself staring into blackness.

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