Thus Sang Abdelmoula

It was a long day, one which seemed like it would never end. I could feel the exhaustion creeping throughout my body. My joints felt heavy, and a slightly uncomfortable yet somehow enjoyable pain triggered with every limb I moved. The thought of that joy oozed a sense of grave disgust at myself and my masochistic tendencies. I had never realized how exhaustion could translate into pain within one’s body when faced with hope; a hope to lay a pained body to rest upon a surface. The nature of this surface did not matter; it could be hard, small, dirt-ridden, or even riddled with thorns. What mattered was for the body to succumb to its debilitated state, to fall prey to the cold embrace of a bed that ached for its owner’s warmth for hours and possibly even days on end. And so, with a pain driven limp, i hurried along to my secluded abode. Each and every step i made was one being pulled by a string imbued with a joyful, yet morbid sense of hope.

Today was one of the few days I was grateful for the fact that I lived alone. The exhaustion I felt overrode all other human functions in my body, and my survival instincts prioritized rest over all else, condemning me to seek a swift, sweet, and temporary death. A death that was to rid me of my suffering, and cleanse my body anew, ready to face another sleep deprived journey to whatever destinations life had required me to visit. Despite lamenting the loneliness at times, the cold atmosphere and the never-changing state upon which i find the house every single day, today, i felt forever grateful for the calm, for what I needed most was a blissful silence that maintained my trance-like sleep-hungry state.

After having brushed my teeth, I removed my chain-like casual clothes, keeping my shorts alone. Like a sleep deprived hyena, I used the last bit of energy I had at my disposal to sprint towards my bed, all the while letting out occasional giggles in excitement for the wave of bliss my entire body was to splash against; from the top of my head to the tip of my toe. As I lay my head on the blue pillow cover my mother had bought me as a gift for my moving out, my already heavy eye-lids felt as if they were being pulled down by the heaviest of weights. I, of course, was more than happy to oblige to what my eyes had beseeched of me. Darkness flooded my surroundings; i could feel the exhaustion seeping from my body, into my bed, like a liquid being poured from a kettle into a cup. Memories from the day painted the darkness; it gave it colors, and soothed my mind as it traversed through the now colorful abyss. I remembered the children who lined up to cross the road, the scent of the flowers that caught my eye with their rainbow-esque assortment.

I also remembered the girl who smiled at me; her curly short hair, her beautifully symmetrical features. I had never been so charmed by another person before, could this be what they call love at first sight? Or was i merely bewitched, held captive in a trance within the palm of her hand. I wanted to remember the event in greater detail because it brought me a great sense of comfort and happiness. I was walking towards the tram station which I regularly took to go about my daily chores. She was standing a few meters away from me waiting, like everybody else, for the tram to arrive. Birds were chirping, a burst of warm familiar laughter erupted every now and then, and there she stood looking at me with a half confused expression. I must have reminded her of somebody she knew in the past, perhaps an old lover, perhaps a deceased brother, but the smile which shined on her face after that almost brought me to my knees. My stare frequently shifted between her lips and her eyes, staring in a fixated sense of awe, or was it admiration? Whatever it was had moved every atom in my body. My ears began to pick up a foreign sound all of a sudden; A sound which i did not remember. It was the chirping of the birds which grew louder with every chirp. In a matter of minutes the peaceful sound of the birds turned into a bellowing roar that invaded my ear-drums. The intensity of the sound exorcized me, expelling me from my heavenly dream back into painful reality. Half-asleep, I focus all of my functioning senses in an attempt to locate the source of the nightmarish sound. Behind the glass of the window resonated what now felt like rhythmic chirping. My sleep-drunken and sensitive ears picked up that rhythmic chirping as loud as a man shouting at the top of his lungs. The chirping was not random; it was systematic, following a specific order. Every two seconds the bird chirped twice, the first chirp was high in tone, as the second followed in a slightly lower one. It was almost musical, like a magical fairy singing a mesmerizing tune; as beautiful as the sound may have been translated by my sleep-drunken ears, my long sought after rest was now endangered, and this fact angered me greatly. I thought about approaching the window to attempt to scare off the miserable creature; my body, however, quickly made the impossibility of that idea clear when moving a finger felt like ten years of hard labor. I considered throwing the nearest object my hand could reach, however what I could reach was a rock-hard alarm clock that could have broken the window, had I decided to throw it at the pest of a creature. I suddenly felt a gust of anger channeling into my throat, as I let out a roar that spelled the words “SHUT UP” Silence broke through the room without a sound echoing other than the beating of my heart and the panting sound of my breath. Feeling a hint of victory, I turn back to my pillow, puffy-eyed with a smug grin on my face. I sank back to my very own never land, and my rest took back its track towards recovery. I was not able to resume the dream in which I saw my bewitcher; however her ravishing beauty and her captivating smile will forever remain engraved in my memory for eternity.

The bird incident became part of my routine. It decided to nest in the window, and I did nothing to stop it. As such, every day, by sun rise, the wretched chanting begins which I end with raging chants of my own. Sometimes I think it is because of this recurring clash that I came to accept the little bird. It offers me an escape from the mundane. Our encounters were like a space where I can let my frustrations loose. I decided to name the bird Abdelmoula simply because of how ridiculous it sounded. And from that point onward, the once empty house, haunted by loneliness, now danced to Abdelmoula’s rhythmic singing. And I, at long last, found a new reason to look forward to coming back home.


Haytham Chhilif