y Weekend in Tripoli II A Self-Portrait (Oh, OK)

Prose written by Saad El-Asha on Monday 17, September 2018

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A semi-sequel to a previous text Same notes on grammar are due.

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There are two types of people(Smile, those who think there are two types of people, and those who don't. Fallacies aside, I belong to the latter group. The members of the first group can think of more than two types, natch. According to their classifications, I wonder in which category(ies) I belong (Do I really wonder?) (A Classification vs. Categorization battle ultimately ensue). Now that I have finally escaped my own parentheses, it is worth mentioning that I am no man of words, namely I can't be defined, identified and approached by my writing – obviously – or my conversations. However, my conversations with friends and people I admire have always represented my true self in flux; anxiety, peace, and vicarious gestures. My sublimated form of expression, though, could've been found in films, but that's another story (Or is it not?) My deeds are more concrete but unpredictable, and they often include … well, whatever. Three months ago, I came home, in Tripoli, to resume my "studies" in college. The trip was documented. Now I'm leaving it temporarily but not a moment too soon, for I have missed my uncle's wedding, another uncle. A wedding for whose attendance I'd cut short a translation assignment (It was a 20-pages text on the Law of the Seas. I was reading Kundera's The Joke on a bus, when the man next to me, a nice fellow ((he reminded me of my maternal grandfather, so affectionate to the extent that when he tries to explain something he thinks you mistook, he doesn't give you the chance to correct him and say "Yes, I know, but …". A great man I know also waits patiently for a chance to set things straight – Yes, I called myself great, what the hell! – he listens all the way to people who commits unforgivable errors and say things we already know)) asked whether I could translate some shit on International Law. I was like, yea, what the hell! I'd previously translated texts on Greek theatre, Chemistry, Botany, Engineering, Banking, some dedications, sex messages to chatting-men I know, among other things. Those translations were OK for a poorly-educated young man who'd never participated in a Translation workshop or studied the art properly. This was the first time I tackled Law. When I sent him the first page, he was satisfied with the outcome except for one thing: "Laissez-faire". The literal translation of the term into Arabic is roughly "Economy of noninterference" – Bear in mind that I'm translating a translation of a translation – and so he was confused; where did I see the word "Economy" in the text? I explained, the word was French and its Arabic equivalent is known to all scholars – A kind of humorous reminder to both of us, that Libyan post-graduates aren't necessarily scholars. Of course I was the only one who'd got the insipid joke. I knew he wouldn't have, because he thought International Law was National Law – however, being honest with my intellectual limits, as always, I didn't dare explain what Laissez-faire was. Who fuckin' knows what Laissez-faire really is, anyway? The final result was fine. He was happy with it. It was definitely better than the Google-induced translations of most translation offices. Well, I do admit I used Google to translate a Greek phrase, to no avail. What a tricky language!) These avuncular misadventures only constitute a small part of my long autobiography of shit-happens happenings. If I had to split the twenty-five years of my life into two, I would put the first one in the category of carefree childhood with its numerous words and symbols which might do justice to tell some of its content, personal or universal, whatever that means. The second half is naturally more complex and never subject to not-good-enough forms of story-telling. In fact, all forms of Not-Good-Enoughs are irrelevant (Or are they not?) but one sign of how they could be related to certain parts of these misfortunes is self-evident. Happiness, the mainstream version of it or mine, has been out of reach, but on the other hand, each day is a new day; not a moment goes to waste, even when expecting the worst never disappoints, cynicism and bitterness found no refuge. Since I arrived in Tripoli for residence in November, 2013 (Saying "Arrived for residence" reminds me of Slavoj Žižek. In fact, all of my writings in English do. Unfortunately, I can't talk the way he does. There's a chance that one of us could've quoted Karl Childers, saying " He likes the way I talk, and I like the way he talks". I would've definitely said half of the sentence) I left it thrice and a half before coming back - I haven't left yet to complete the fourth departure - The first one wasn't special for I only stayed for a week. The second time I left the city, it was drowned a day later by heavy rain; the city Square was totally flooded and, according to local oral news, a whole family perished, trapped in a car. The third time I left, I could hear the heavy shelling on the airport road that would eventually lead to the destruction of the airport two days later. On the day I arrived to the airport to fly to my hometown again (Fourth time) the flight was cancelled because a couple of the air company's members were murdered in a terrorist attack and I was bound to book a flight the next day and miss the wedding. What a cold approach to such tragedies! Personalizing national tragedies has been one of my latest jokes. My sense of humor is controversial and my response to those who get offended by it can take two forms; the first one is to people about whom I care and who may be misled by the masqueraded-as-an-asshole persona that I sometimes borrow to criticize various assholeries. I can't afford being misunderstood by those people. Second one is to assholes themselves, whereby I calmly say they can always peacefully fuck themselves, which I can't say to the first group for the aforementioned reasons, and for the fact that they possibly can't fuck themselves; they usually fuck other people (Masqueraded as an asshole, here). Friends, however, always get my jokes, so no responses are required. When it comes to Tripoli, it seems that I'm, increasingly, turning into a Libyan Slothrop. Minus the shagging part. I somehow see the fourth possible departure as truly the beginning of the end of Tripoli's civil life in this decade. Benghazi, prior to being the ghost city it is now, witnessed at first the same events. This is the second time Tripoli is targeted by terrorists and it appears it's going downhill from here. Earlier today, I smoked my first hookah in two months, accompanied by a great book. When I put down the hose and closed my book, I thought for a second about the third and perhaps short-lived era in the history of my daily life. An era where I will have completely come to terms with the fact that I won't leave the country, and that I should carry on the relentless pursuit of how to deal with it all, despite of the constant state of frustration and estrangement, which, to my satisfaction, never spring out of hate, superficialities, violence, or apathy. And I bade farewell to the smelly sea of Gargaresh, one of Tripoli's coastal areas, an area that includes Andalus St. where I used to participate in the only thing in which I found joy in the city, programming movies. A kite was flying in the distance, as if to consolidate a cliché of departures. Being in Andalus St. also served to confirm such a triviality, as Muhammad XII of Granada "sighed". But, bloody hell, I'm neither a big fan of kings nor colonialism, let alone Pan Arabism (Although one may have a legitimate argument as to not associate Andalusia with those ideologies) I could only afford the Tyrone Slothrop analogy. My fate would be different from his, beside the major differences in our characters. This is not a weekend. I only thought it could be one.
   

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    An unusual experience, to say the least. And not one I would care to share.

    However, you do have a colorful way of presenting your experience in a colorful, to say the least, spot on this Earth.
    Kt., your notes are always duly noted.