Fortune

Poem written by Saad El-Asha on Tuesday 18, September 2018

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The first time I saw someone with a bundle of money was at my cousin's wedding. That someone was a teenager of unidentifiable history and he possessed – in addition to cash – a profitable asset for us children, a rare quality: he was fat and funny. Back then, people were managing one of the nation's worst economies, the third decade of Qaddafi's reign. Where did this money come from? I thought. The only image I'd had of money came from the movies, as most children had in "middle class" Bayda, and, naturally, seeing those turquoise bills, which I thought were hideous, rolled into fat brown hands were fascinating, especially with the lackluster countenance of the hands owner; in fact, he was filthy. Now, it all began by him with a few sketches of stand-up comedy (He was sitting, however), brilliantly presented in terse replies and deadpan comments on the boys' appearances (With none commenting on his appearance, which to me signifies how fat-friendly we are among the nations). One thing led to another and I found money was brought into these verbal exchanges, in this quiet afternoon, in these pre-wedding-party hours. He would dig out his roll and start mock-counting. The grotesqueness of the situation couldn’t be ignored. The boys started the sort of giggling people do when they're taken aback, while one of them left the scene to bring more boys. A few minutes later, he'd handle one of the boys a five-dinar bill and leave. The giggles lingered but the boys soon left. A five-dinar bill meant a busy day. All along, watching closely and mute, all I could think about was who this fatso was and whether he was a butcher (It connoted wealth and bad sense of fashion). Ascending the stairs to the rooftop of my aunt's (where I'd sleep with my cousins that night, stealing the neighbour's unripe grapes and having our faces painted red with mosquito bites in the morning), I thought I should've been more engaged. I could've had busy days myself.
   

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