more encounters

Abu Bassam, every time I pass him in downtown Ar Ram, greets me with a well-weathered smile and an offer to coffee. We sit, exchange hellos and inquiries of well-being and watch life pass by: never-orderly traffic, fruit and veg customers, friends with warm cheek-kissing greetings…

He and I have little to say to one another in actual words, but the encounter is always refreshing.

The 1st meeting, after asking if I wanted to buy fruit, he gave me a coffee. I hadn’t actually needed or bought fruit. Returning later from a walk, I stopped to give him business. Bagging the mini-plums, he refused my shekels, followed me as I crossed to some vegetable stalls across the road which turned out to be his, and further refused my money.

Abu Kahlaf flagged me down, forcing coffee on me. Abus Aessam and Iyeman joined us, translating. All extended welcome after welcome, along with invitations to their homes, to meet their families.

A servis passenger saw me tracing the lines and curves in my Arabic book. He took an interest, promising to find me and give me a better study book. Having passed me his business card, he hopped off the servis and disappeared into the Ramallah market crowds.


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