Gliding Beauty- Desert Journey Part One

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                                          Drawing by Gino 2007

Preface: This is a story, a book I began writing in 2007 in Jordan. I decided to not continue out of respect for the characters (both living and dead) It is a true story, my story and I will share it with you in a total of 6 chapters during this month of Ramadan.  I hope you will take the time to read each installment. This is as far as I got. Many of you know now about Umahmad from my poetry.
This is how it all began.


Chapter One

I seem to be thinking of you a lot when I go to the movies, I thought of you again in the movie theater because we were such a magically unconventional love, even in those times of glorious unbridled unconventional loves, and we were a movie. If any true love story should be shared on the big screen it was ours. Is this arrogant of me or totally foolish of me to think this way?

I have written almost 30 poems for you, ..
actually restarted writing again because of you,
your love and the effect it had upon my soul, upon my very being.

By Allah. this story is not about me; it is about you, Umahmad, about your effect on this soul…so this soul must be sketched in, if only in italics, in a third person’s name, at least from time to time, because this is a love story, and every love story has more than one person to share it with. Then of course there also exists
the incredible pain and the “maktoob” of your coming into my life.

In the Arabic culture we believe that much of our lives is destined, it is written “maktoob” or meant to be “naseeb” Like our parents that we cannot choose, there are places and people too that come into our lives and therefore are maktoob, and they always come for something, even if we are slightly unaware about Life and our place in it, these moments are usually perceived and contemplated by all who experience the arrival of a gift destined for them and them alone.
Umahmad was my gift and I knew it the first time I set eyes on her.

She was about to be my domestic that day, and I was so irritated at my husband, for sleeping through the morning unable to fill his necessary position of translator between us.
She spoke only Arabic and I only Spanish and English. There she was, poised in the doorway of our apartment in Karak, a provincial Crusader castle town in the south of Jordan that chilly fall day of 2001.
She came in with an “Asalaam Alaykum”(peace be unto you) and I politely answered
“Wa alaykum salaam”(and also to you)

We quickly checked each other out as women have a tendency to do, even subconsciously I suspect. We both made a quick eye sweep up and down, and then I said “please come in” gesturing to enter .
I had no idea who this woman would be to me, not even a faint intuition that she and I could actually become friends of the deepest kind, but in my fast scan of her face I saw beauty not usually found in domestic employees. She had an almost movie star quality with an aquiline profile, which made me think of a proud black- maned knight on the chessboard..

She was robed in a long ebony abaya a sheer light weight over-garment cooler than it looked and made for hot weather. It protected her body shape as well as it could from the eyes of strangers, and strange men in particular, and it protected her virgin skin from the merciless desert sun. She was maybe 5’ 6’’ with a strong symmetrical build and her skin was shockingly white and without blemish.

Her large black eyes, long straight nose and naturally full lips gave her the appearance of many different stars all seen on the big screen, but mixed and combined so it was impossible to say,
“Oh she looks just like so and so.” She looked a lot like many cinematic goddesses, and when she walked through my front door, I was given a living example of another way for human transport.

She did not walk, she floated, glided over the carpet like a smooth graceful hovercraft. To the last day I watched her glide away, I was never sure how she could do that, how effortlessly she made it seem, like she was always in an invisible bubble of zero gravity, and it was all she could do to keep from floating away out of sight.

I led Umahmad into my small kitchen, with big sliding glass windows that looked down the hill at similar Lego-style apartments that were so common in Jordan . Even though they all were cut in the same style, the stone siding and the balconies and imaginative window framing, made them not unpleasing to the eye. The second floor room was cool and there was a crisp fall breeze that shook the panes, as we sat across from each other at my square white plastic breakfast table. Then there was a long pause as I studied her face in repose and realized there was no way on earth I was going to make her understand what I wanted her to do, to clean my apartment that day.

She was my Iraqi refugee domestic helper (this was all I knew about her) and I wasn’t even sure how to say “clean, dishes, bed,vacuum, dust” the basic vocabulary necessary, so we remained a bit too long just staring at each other until the impossibility of communicating anything with her or she with me struck me so funny, I smirked involuntarily.

She saw it and half-smiled back. My eyes twinkled, I felt the rise of hysteria because of the ludicrousness of it all. Lack of communication can get you killed or it can make you die laughing depending upon who you do it with. Her eyes told me she was seeing the same humorous side of our predicament and her eyes just bubbled. I saw them overflow and the outer corners crinkled, and I burst out laughing, almost spitting on the table. She followed suit. It looked like her cheeks were filling from the inside with helium until they finally just bwaaah, burst and she popped out in a broad spontaneous laugh.
I laughed harder and tears on both our cheeks ran down our faces respectively in that fabulous hysteria of spirit that bonded without words, telling us instinctively we were like souls who had “light blood”(dem hafeef) the Arabic expression for good sense of humor, jovial personalities.

I said something in English and it made her laugh even harder. She answered me in Arabic and I held my stomach in. I couldn’t control it now, I went right over the top of normal silliness into the realm of total hysterical combustion. She was right there with me, didn’t miss a beat. We grabbed on to each other’s forearms like two drowning raucous victims laughing and crying and at least for me, we bonded as two kindred souls for all eternity right there in my kitchen. I will never forget that day. I will never forget the first 15 or 20 minutes of shared humor. I drew pictures on the back of an envelope to try and explain myself, I sketched stick figures washing dishes and she laughed even harder. We tried charades, pointing and pantomiming chore movements.. I fell in love with her that destined morning. I knew instinctively, she would be so much more than my domestic employee, and I was totally correct in my assessment. Two years later I laughed again with her like that, but in the wide open pink sand spaces of Wadi Rum.
Three years later, after a love lived like few others, fate turned again and she was gone.

To Be Continued….


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57 Responses to Gliding Beauty- Desert Journey Part One

  1. daleinnis says:

    Ooh, such a story! Thank you for sharing more of your time with her; she’s always been such a presence in your work.

    So many wonderful lines here. “Lack of communication can get you killed or it can make you die laughing depending upon who you do it with.” Indeed!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. swadharma9 says:

    a truly beautiful telling🙏🏼😘🙏🏼i look forward to the remaining installments too❤️🌹❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Joey says:

    What a wonderful story! I can’t wait to read more about the two of you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a beautiful story ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve lived such a fascinating life and met so many fascinating people! I’m so happy that you are sharing your experiences with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow thank you so much Dawn! I was a little unsure about doing this, but I’m glad people have responded in such a positive way. Thank you for your appreciation and stay tuned…next week is Chapter Two:) 🌙🙏🌹

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Layla Todd says:

    What a sensual and imagist story that evokes so many different layers of intrigue and mystery. I love the sense of the language barrier yet the underlying communication you manage to convey. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Layla for this rich comment..I really admire how you immerse yourself in something that holds you and read and feel it so fully. I hope my other 5 chapters will do the same. Yes the impossibility of communicating with words, right away, obligated us to use anything else we could think of, sometimes with very funny consequences:):) I hope you will enjoy this history as far as I told it.. I will then give a small summary of what is not told to let readers know how it ended:) Thank you again so much for this beautiful comment.🌹

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Grace says:

    Wow Karima, thank you for sharing!!! I am so excited to see where this book continues…and am so proud of you for being vulnerable in sharing it with us!! This is moving, touching and exquisite in every way. I love the attention to detail, especially the specifics on women…it’s so important to note that when we let our guard down yet still show up as ourselves true connections can be made. I can feel the love in every word of yours, my dear friend. You’ve done a beautiful thing here by inspiring the reader to connect to the heart and to the writer within. Truly a gift to read this…thank you for letting your journey shine 🤍🤗🤍🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning dear said the magic words that put a smile on my face today..”I am so excited to see where this book continues” With readers like you.. I get inspired too:) When I began this, I did think I would write the whole story..but in 2007 I didn’t know the whole story and this story actually ended in 2012..with so many twisting parts and well…I just decided to not tell it all in detail. Anyway..I will present weekly a chapter and then give a summary of how it ends,, just to satisfy readers possible thoughts about that. Thank you so much for your deep appreciation of it so far and as I said, I love to tell a story to someone who is really listening:) You are that for sure for me. Thank you for enjoying this part of my journey with me. Big Hugs 🤗🌹❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. calmkate says:

    you write with grace and fluidity, somewhat like the humour and love that bubbled over for you both 🙂 Lovely story to share!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hoyt says:

    Ruca, I read chapter 1. Already I am intrigued. You continue. like an onion, to reveal more and more of the mystery. As Gino says, “The legend grows.”How you captivate and enthrall me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww Ruco so glad you enjoyed this first installment…You know so much about her… now you will know a bit more:) Peeling away that onion skin..Your last line was so beautiful…Glad you still feel this way:) Yes it was my logo about all I learned in Second Life but it applies in Real Life too….wouldn’t you agree? So glad you will take this journey with me:)


  10. Tyler james says:

    What a wonderful story! I can’t wait to read more about the two of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Gliding Beauty – Desert Journey Chapter Two | Digital Rabbit Hole

  12. love the story of your meeting so beautifully described etching imagery on warmth and character in each of your descriptive and well chosen words Karima! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You’re the best!!! 🌹🙏🌹


  14. Navin says:

    What a wonderful storyteller you are…I just didn’t read this beautiful & heartfelt story…I felt the emotions as well…that you’ve sprinkled in your story…thank you very much for sharing this story with us all…such beautiful, tender, lovely, vulnerable & magical moments…it’s just not some memory…it’s your & your beautiful friend’s life…a pure connection between the you two…keep expressing & shining, my dear friend 💫❤️✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Navin, thank you for your words that tell me how immersed you let yourself get in this story..a story you have known only through poetry and some conversations we have had but not the “whole story” Thank you for these gorgeous adjectives you used to describe how you felt, “tender, loving, vulnerable, magic..YES!! It was all that but above and beyond it was a destiny and yes I was introduced to “pure connection” as you call it…and changed my life. Thank you my dear friend for vibrating so honestly and deeply with my story.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Jeff Flesch says:

    “She did not walk, she floated, glided over the carpet like a smooth graceful hovercraft.” I love that, and I love this story. Thank you for sharing it with us, Karima. I will read all of the installments. 🌹🌸🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww thank you so much Jeff…yes this was something I had never seen before/ She had this level of grace and her steps were short but smooth and it really gave her that appearance, hence the title of the book. I am thrilled you are loving it. Chapter Three will be posted tomorrow..I do hope you will continue reading it:) I am thrilled you are enjoying it:) 🙏❤️🌙


  16. Pingback: Gliding Beauty – Desert Journey Chapter Three | Digital Rabbit Hole

  17. Heart-touching storytelling, Karima… Wow. Just gorgeous and true.


    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Gliding Beauty – Desert Journey Chapter Four | Digital Rabbit Hole

  19. Oh, great! You’re already on it, Karima… telling your story that I so wanted to know. This is much better, yes, reading you tell it slowly and in detail. And I’m all set to dive in. With a finger on Jordan in the world map before me, and sight on the square white table in your kitchen there, I am looking into the eyes of Umhamed, imagining you bursting out in laugh with her… and I have my cup of coffee too. Will meet after part 2… :))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sundaram! I’m so glad you have begun the journey with Chapter One.. I am just now finishing writing the last chapter and hope to have it posted Wednesday of next week, a few days before the end of Ramadan Inshallah. This is my first attempt at storytelling in a full prose way. I do include some poems along the way, but basically I am trying to tell a “Very Big” story in only 5 chapters without the reader feeling that they were rushed through it. I am so excited you will finally know this story that has been hinted about in so many poems, but until finally deciding to finish what I began writing in 2007, has never been fully revealed. This story reveals it all. Thank you my dear friend with your finger on our tiny country of Jordan and your eyes across the table..I am so happy I am able to immerse you in this…Stay tuned:)

      Liked by 1 person

  20. WOW! Like everyone said … what a story you have to tell! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: An Invitation to Read My Short Story-Gliding Beauty | Digital Rabbit Hole

  22. jonicaggiano says:

    Karima, this is a beautifully described story, and what would have usually been an irritating situation turned out into a life-changing event. I love the way you describe this woman and also the awkward situation at the table with the inability to talk to one another. It is really sweet how there was an instant connection. Also, I find the story about how you began to draw stick figures to show what you needed to be done particularly funny. She was obviously an open, kind and sensitive woman. This is a beautifully told story and I am going to part 2. Thank you for sharing this with us Karima. Big hugs and love you, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Joni, I was so excited when I saw you had begun to read Gliding Beauty and you almost read it all in one sitting wow!! Yes who knew then how that chance and “lost-in-translation moment, would turn into such a lifetime event for me? I love how you said it and I am so thrilled you are reading this, with your sensitive soul and your eye for a good story (because you know how to write them. Yes from the very beginning I saw she was “my kind of people” as you say open and also easy with a sense of humor I could perceive even without being able to communicate. That fateful,moment in a chilly kitchen in Karak Jordan, changed my entire life.. So you glad you loved the first chapter see you at the end of Chapter 2:) Big Hugs and thank you for taking a chunk of your time out to read my story. It means so much to me Joni 🙏🦋🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      • jonicaggiano says:

        I will write about the entire story when I finish the last chapter today. It is not a story to rush through at all. It is a great piece of writing and I am enjoying every line Karima. Love you, Joni


      • Ohhh Joni, take your time. It is a long chapter..but then it had to be. It scans from 2004 to 2023:) Your enjoyment is my inspiration my dear friend:)


  23. lunabranwen3 says:

    I just laughed and laughed at the end of this— right out loud! What a vivid and wonderful picture you create in your telling of your and Umahmad’s story, dear Kari! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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