Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you;
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through
— Christina Rossetti
From the uncertainty, they rise;
Sacrificing blooms all the way through
They find the truth, somewhere in disguise:
Unpleasant, crushing but gloriously true
Six hours had passed since they had that empty quarrel in the morning. He couldn’t even remember what it was all about: the farm, the groceries, or something else. Everything between them was heated up lately. He felt his hand on his face, trying hard to swallow an odd lump in his throat, a knot of a cry that required some effort to be muffled and swallowed.
He moved his head fiercely and murmured with a half smile that was almost painful, ‘Man up Nasser, stop this nonsense! You are a father!’ He pushed himself from the sofa in the living room where he was sitting, walked to the staircase and headed to the door; strolling in the farm and picking up lemons could help, he thought. He used to fantasise about his farm as a private and detached area; a place that harboured less talk and more serenity. It originally belonged to his father; a land stuffed with palms, mango and lemon trees, and some banana plants and neighbouring vines of grape.
In the utmost right of the farm, an aging canal of water narrowed into four tiny canals: each worked its way to water the plants and the palms. ‘The grape vines had enough of crimson red’, Nasser mumbled while entering the farm, ‘they must be ready to eat by now.’ Thoughts had always accompanied him when he walked on the farm: solo and often heavy. He made his way into the farm as if it was his kingdom; the sense of belongingness and intimacy were as visible as his palm to his eyes. ‘Why I was too loud to the boy?’ he sighed, and moved towards the mango tree. It was something that had been slinking since days ago. He refreshed his memory for some minutes, squished his eyes in the hope that some dots might connect themselves inside his memory. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a memory of that night, two weeks ago, rushed into his head with details, when Ayman expressed his intention to move out of the home for the first time. He told them that a friend of his knew someone who had two apartments in town with a good price, and he intended to move into one of them. “I will still come and join you for qahwah and dinners sometimes, after all it is a matter of 35 minutes if not less”, Ayman expressed as a fair plan. The three of them knew from the deepest depths of their hearts that it would not be quick for them; 25 years of living together in that house – that was almost an entire life. “You don’t like it with us here anymore, do you?”, the father yelled in a high-pitched tone and adding insult to injury, smirked, “You know Zainab, it must be something about your cooking that this boy doesn’t like; he can’t wait one more day to flee from us and buy himself loads of tuna cans.”
He shut his eyes to shake this conversation out of his head, even though he knew that something about that day kept him wide awake at nights. It was clearer to him now after all that unwanted shouting and screaming. He stopped exerting efforts to root out the memory, because he knew that it would not leave him alone anytime soon.
The sky was painted pink and apricot orange; ‘it hasn’t looked like this before!’ Nasser uttered. He realised shortly after that his immediate impression towards the sky at sunset was almost always the same. Amidst these thoughts, he heard the back door of the farm bang open; a bony, tall figure walked on top of the water canal. Nasser was sitting in a pale blue steel chair under a massive branch of the mango tree. The breeze was steady and warm. He couldn’t tell whose figure it was, but he guessed that it could be Ayman’s. He would tell him about Abu Saif, who sells first-rate secondhand furniture in the town and offers free delivery for friends and relatives.
It was almost dark; the figure was approaching him but it was still featureless. The northern mountain could be seen from his spot. What could not be recognised from there was the blowing wind, sculpting the mountaintop steadily and forever.
Mountain and the Wind — synopsis
When Ayman, 25, decided to move out of the family home, after living with his parents, Nasser and Zainab, from the time of his birth, his father took it very badly. Ayman wanted to move to an apartment in the city and away from their remote home, but Nasser could never come to terms with that for they have been together for 25 years (“almost a lifetime”). And whenever this thought of the impending separation sneaked into his mind, it would wreak havoc there, making him lose all control and end up being suffused with anger and pain.
The conflict between the two opposite forces, the father and the son, in Mountain and The Wind, produces the dialectic of the story in which the characters are not necessarily fighting for or against a decided decision of moving to a new place; rather, it raises the question of the chasm that usually separates two different generations, which brings about misunderstanding and conflict.
The two symbols, Mountain and the Wind, are notions that portray the static, well-rooted mindset of the older generation as opposed to the desire for change and independence of thought in the new one.