A Product of Love

"Neama Al-Fitori"

When we occasionally stop to replay the reel of our lives, we ask ourselves: how can you reduce an entire lifetime to mere moments, when a single day contains countless events? Imagine, for example, if you could recall a whole year of raising your kids–all its milestones, emotions and disappointments. Imagine if you could trace the past in full: your childhood and your parents, your city, the neighborhood you grew up in, your youth, your school, your graduation, your jobs, everyone you've met. But a photograph can accomplish all that; it can conjure up an entire life–its events, its minor details, and even its conversations. 

How have even our most sacred relations become so distant? When I reflect, I see our small house in downtown Benghazi, where my father–may God have mercy on his soul–woke up early and prepared breakfast, and in the same plate, divided the food equally, leaving exactly half for my mother. He covered the plate until the lady of the house, the queen of hearts, woke up. 

 

Their relationship was warm and tender. I loved watching him patiently translating foreign films for her. Sitting beside her, he never grew weary of repeating himself until she heard him. (She had suffered from hearing loss.) In return, she delighted in watching football games with him, and memorized the names of all the players. 

When did the father meet the mother? How did their relationship unfold in Libya? When, and why, was this photograph taken? And why was it shot in an amusement park? Did they like taking the kids there? Did they enjoy the rides at that amusement park? 

It looks like this photo was shot in Egypt; did they often go there? When did the father die, and how is the mother doing now? Where does she live? 

I grew up watching their warm relationship, of which love was the main ingredient. I was my father's confidant, and the friend and daughter who had inherited his values. After he was gone, I treated my mother like she was my daughter, like she was the invaluable inheritance he had left me. A photo has the capacity to collapse all these memories into a single image!

I can’t tell you how proud I am to be the product of such a beautiful match. This partnership and these tender touches have filled my life with a deluge of love, mercy, and affection.

Born in Cairo, she is a translator and poet, with three published poetry collections. Some of her texts have been translated into English, French, and Amazigh, and included in the series “Pioneering Distinguished Libyan Women” and the Encyclopedia of North African Feminist Poetry.

Neama Al-Fitori
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