What Is Love?

Posted: September 26, 2013 in My Poems

Love is a sweet exchange of weaknesses; 

Not an estranged demonstration of powers.

Love is the exquisite acceptance of flaws;

Not a rigorous set of decrees and laws.  

Love is a tender declaration of needs,

Where mutual giving is a creed.

Love is not a game of hide and seek,

Where the winner loses indeed.

Love is sharing anticipations and fears

To overcome a suffocating atmosphere.

Love is yielding to the attraction between two minds; 

Not an egoistic show off of virtues and pride, 

Not a win-lose relation between your world and mine.

Love is the clearest perception between two who are blind.

 

Alas, My Lover!

Posted: September 15, 2013 in My Poems
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Alas…My Lover!

By Maha Noor Elahi

A brunette…a shrewd…

A vulnerable quivering female…

Smothered under a silky veil;

Looking with eyes full of hope, though…

To the blond blue-eyed lure

With his smoothly shaved beard

And gentleness of a man;

Holding her with one arm…

And giving her a hand

To help scratch

And rape the unwarranted shroud.

Her redeemer …her dream;

Italian…American…or from Venice…

The same…

As long as he’s not an A R A B I A N male.

She’s out of the One Thousand tales

And into an anime.

Her Arabian gentle knight

Is no longer that sensitive poet

Who blossoms with sincere romance,

Cuddling clouds, sensuous stars,

And velvet skies

Just by looking at her desert-wide eyes…

He’s no more that dignified chap

Who hurls and hurdles…

Crosses miles and miles…

Fights injustice and vice

Just to calm a woman’s cry

And regain the right of a child!

Her so-called man

Has manhood abandoned

And turned into a warden;

A double-faced libertine,

Who wraps his woman with a cloak

And dismantles his mistress in a poem!

Now… ironically

After wavy sands of disrespect_

Sadly…illusively

Her refuge is found …in the West.

Of that pale outsider she’s in awe;

Seeking love in the cold

Impersonally…

Writing a letter of farewell…a confession of defeat:

“Alas, my brother…my father…my lover…

I’ve given in…to a stranger…

My being is a gift to my savior!”

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

This monologue is one of three monologues i have written for the Drama Club event, Kaleidoscope. It had always been my dream to perform Cleopatra’s role in any given chance, and so I did! It was a joy to be Queen Cleopatra for about 5 minutes! 😀

cleo

So they say I’m strong as a tigress, wild as a carnivorous plant, vicious as a cold desert night. Beware, they say! She’s poison in flames! Her dignity is destructive!  Her charm is obnoxious! She’s a witch…she’s a serpent…she’s a siren…she’s no angel …she’s not noble..she’s so heartless & cruel …she only cares to rule!

OOOOOHHH!! (falls down crying)

For God’s sake give me a break!!

I’m a woman!

I’m a queen who refused to take orders from politicians to serve their own greedy needs and interests! (Her tone softens) Of course, I do take orders when they work in my favor and for my country’s interests. But they kept forgetting that I will not be told where I can go and where I cannot go! 

Starts singing: “And don’t tell me what to do and don’t tell me what to say! And when I go out with you, don’t put me on display! You don’t own me! Don’t try to change me in any way! Don’t tie me down cause I’d never stay”

A feminist at heart I was…long before all of you girls were born!  But …honestly, it took me a long time to be that dominant!

Imagine being born with no choices! At the age of 18, I found myself a queen & my 10 year old brother, Ptolemy XIII, a king! Oh imagine that! Two children ruling!! Quite an amusing game, eh? I Would have bought all the Channel bags and Christian Louboutin shoes if I were in your time!  Nah! Trust me, it wasn’t much fun, for I had to marry by brother just because it was “customary” in Egypt at that era! But it was only temporary; I yielded to conquer!

Sharing the monarchy with my younger brother…(rolling her eyes) oh…deep in my heart I resented the idea! No Ptolemaic traditions could prevent me from ruling Egypt alone! Being the subordinate ruler just because I’m a female wasn’t really my idea of being queen! But lucky me, that little lad couldn’t last long anyway….don’t look at me…I didn’t do it…I didn’t kill him…I just cooperated with his enemy, Caesar, and the poor boy just escaped and drowned into the Nile!

Thanks to Julius Caesar, the throne became mine! In fact, now I have two countries under my thumb; Egypt and Rome! Just in case you haven’t heard, the Roman dictator, Caesar was madly in love with me that he made a golden statue of me and positioned it in front of the Venus Genetrix in Rome in spite of his people who hated my guts! It was a thrill to see it when I visited Rome in summer 46 BC. Oh but misfortunes seem to love me! A while later Caesar was assassinated before he would agree to admit our child, Caesarion! Oh Caesar! That jerk!

(sarcastically)Yeah… there were jerks at my time, too!

He never wanted me to be more than a mistress!

They all saw me as a seductive mistress, but they seldom remember my brilliance…the nine languages that I could speak fluently…my mathematical and business skills…

All what I got from Caesar’s people was condemn! They suspected me killing him! Imagine that! Me killing a man? (pun not intended)

Never mind! I had always known I could do better than an old guy who’s about 30 years older than me!  

I wouldn’t allow such a “small” incident like Caesar’s death to ruin my plans and threaten my country! I had  to

show my loyalty to Antony; he was young and strong ..but never my match!

With my extraordinary charm and wits, he could never resist me! He instantly fell in love with me and I gave him two children; two boys who will inherit him. Together we ruled Egypt and led it to prosperity, but the Romans hated our partnership..and under the leadership of Octavian, they defeated our army. My poor Antony couldn’t stand defeat! He killed himself with his sword like any desperate soldier would do!

And what’s to become of me? What’s to become of my children? What’s to become of a wife and a queen without her husband and ally?

Octavian wanted me to be a slave, not a queen ..not an ally…not a neighboring country …not a partner..but a slave! He even ordered to imprison me and keep me guarded so I wouldn’t harm myself or take my life! He wanted to humiliate me for the rest of my life!

But never! The great Egyptian queen and the last Pharaoh wasn’t destined to be demeaned but to be remembered! 

The Feminist Monologues are three different monologues, which represent three notable women from history with a rather feminist touch. One monologue was written in Arabic representing the Andalucian princess, Wallada Bint al-Mostakfi, and the other two were in English representing Josephine de Beauharnais and Cleopatra.

They were performed on the stage of Dar Al-Hekma College, and they were part of a theatre program called Kaleidoscope.

https://saudirevelations.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/kaleidoscope-theater-in-jeddah/

Today I am posting the monologue of Josephine de Beauharnais, which was beautifully performed by DAH student Sawsan Al-Aidarous. 

****************

The Feminist Monologue of Josephine de Beauharnais

(with an angry bitter tone) They never loved me! His family…his mother and sisters…they never loved me…they never approved of our marriage (softens tone…rather shamefully) I never expected them to accept me anyway; a widow and a mother of two children can never be suitable for a young general& a promising political leader…perhaps the greatest French leader in history!

(proudly and confidently) But he chose me! Despite their will…despite the rumors……despite my gaucheness …despite the fact that I was 6 years older than him …yes I never belonged to their sophisticated class …I was not born into a wealthy family…(very assertive tone) but he wanted me! He loved me! He was infatuated with me!

(Reads from a letter) “You to whom nature has given spirit, sweetness, and beauty, you who alone can move and rule my heart, you who know all too well the absolute empire you exercise over it!”

Oh, his sweet words and letters used to make me feel so precious. Alas how love fades away by time and…(sarcastically) other stuff…cheating and all…

I know I made many mistakes…The Parisian mistress of France’s leading figures I was! They were all fond of my charm!

Nevertheless, I was merely a mistress thrown from one man’s arms to another man’s arms. A mistress in the lives of great men….brave soldiers ….sharp leaders…oh…damn that aurora of their greatness and blablabla…they’re all players and womanizers at the end of the day! They’re no better than me and I’m no inferior to them!

I know I cheated on Bonaparte at the beginning of our marriage when he left me a few days after our wedding to go to one of his battles in Italy…But I didn’t love him then…I just married him to save myself and my kids from poverty! (casually) Paul Barras, my former lover, wanted to get rid of me because he got bored…you know! He wanted a new mistress and he couldn’t afford two! So he convinced Bonaparte that I was a catch! Sure I was…(winking and smiling sarcastically) And the young man was so mad about me that he was blinded! And I was undeniably pretty and exotic!

(Reads) “Ah! I entreat you to permit me to see some of your faults. Be less beautiful, less gracious, less affectionate, less good, especially be not over-anxious, and never weep. Believe me it is not in my power to have a single thought which is not of thee, or a wish I could not reveal to thee.”)

(regretful) Ah…it didn’t take him long until he discovered everything! I never wanted to hurt him. I was just so immersed in the Parisian lifestyle…parties and dancing and spending and flirting and showing off …but it all wounded him deeply that he changed forever…he could never love me the way he used to….of course I’m grateful he didn’t divorce me…(regains strength) thanks to the requirements of his political status. (loudly and sarcastically) Political leaders must have settled marriages …that’s the norm….(sarcastic and angry) haha and the biggest joke ever! Political leaders and soldiers who spend more than half of their lives travelling and fighting from one battle to the other…those must have settled marriages or their political positions will be at risk! How ironic! What’s love and marriage to such men? What’s a family to them? Wives who complete their picture perfect and children who will inherit their dry and bloody brutal lives! Hopeless!

But I have to admit it…Napoleon was noble enough not to throw me to the streets…..AND he was clever enough to treat me the same way I treated him!

I wounded him, but he stabbed me constantly…time after time…There was a long list of women… Pauline Foures, Marie Welweska, Desiree Clary, Mademoiselle George, GuiseppinaGrassini…and he ended it by divorcing me and marrying Marie Louse to give him the son that I could never give! Woman after woman…affair after affair…Stab after stab….and then…. I found myself a divorced woman with a bad reputation…AND lots of money…(smiling cunningly) fortunately ….

And with the money I could achieve my dream and live my passion; to renovate my house and garden….to create my Chateau de Malmaison which was “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation” Chateau de Malmaison is my gift to my beloved country France!

(Stands in pride listening to the French anthem)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKtCVblxDRc

Chateau de Malmaison is an impressive reminder of the conquests of my incomparable friend and ex-husband! And yes….

Napoleon and I became best friends after our divorce…When the pains of our wounds fade away and the flames of love are put off, friendship surfaces and remains. Napoleon’s last words were, “France, army, Joséphine.”)

Stay tuned for Queen Cleopatra’s monologue! 🙂

Last year was very busy and exciting for me! I have achieved one of my dreams; a dream that has nothing to do with my career as a teacher, rather it is about my passion! The stage..the theatre…acting….performing…singing…a stage program that presents drama arts! As the Drama Club Advisor at Dar Al-Hekma College, I’ve always kept the club’s activities short and simple due to the tight schedule that the students and I have during the college day. Established in 2007, the DAH Drama Club has presented a few memorable comedy skits, concerning social and college-life related issues such as Vote for the Man of Your Dreams, So You Think You’re a Student, Pretty Smelly, Smoking Beauty, and an unsuccessful attempt to perform Pygmalion. Time in college doesn’t allow much for long hours of training…everybody is running! I convinced myself to be happy with the short simple performances that the club has done, yet deep in my heart I wanted more; something to display the beauty, talent, and humor of Saudi girls! Something entertaining with a pinch of sarcasm; all in one!

And so it happened! I was privileged to meet an enthusiastic group of students at Dar Al-Hekma College. With the cooperation of this super team of girls, who undertook the full responsibility of managing the club from paper work to fashion design and stage setting, I could focus on writing scripts, coming up with new ideas and training the actresses during rehearsals. The idea started in July 2012 with an Arabic short play as the team, Obour, suggested, but later it developed into a whole stage program!

Kaleidoscope, which took place on December 1st in 2012, is a theatre program that I have prepared for, in cooperation with Obour stage management team and the Music Club under the supervision of my lovely Canadian colleague, Ms. Julie Prior, as part of the Drama Club activities last semester.

The program included 9 performances that represent the different colors of drama arts. It includes music, dancing, monologues, sketches, stand-up comedy, and flash drama in Arabic called

حش-تازيا

But Kaleidoscope represents a further meaning as well. It’s a celebration of girls and women of all colors, sizes and shapes! It’s a

tribute from the Drama & Music Club to the outstanding Dar Al-Hekma women who work very hard, non-stop!

Kaleidoscope Announcement

The program of Kaleidoscope started with a piano performance of Lean on Me by the sweet Ms. Julie Prior, accompanied by the Music Club members. After that, there was the Feminist Monologue; Josephine de Beauharnais, performed by the exquisite Sawsan Al-Aidarous, and followed by the amusing mimicking scene of Sherlock Holmes performed by the amazing Mariam Al-Dabbag and Nada Asr….oh yes…let me not forget to tell you how I loved Mariam and Nada’s British accent…superb!

Of course, a theatre event can’t be really entertaining without some dancing; hence, there was the dazzling Mambo performance, choreographed by the wonderful Majdoleen Yamani and myself. The performers were Sheikha Khayyat, Wejdan Bahadi, Rana Bajandooh, Reem Al-Jahdali, and our Italian guy in disguise, Mai Alem! The girls really rocked the stage!

And certainly, after a sassy dance, there should be some comedy. Leen Idrees exceeded all expectations by her performance of The Indonesian Maid; a message sent to women from their maid in a light satirical manner followed by another capturing piano performance of A Thousand Miles by Julie Prior and the Music Club. Two monologues followed; one of Cleopatra performed by myself and the other one (in Arabic) of Andalusian Princess Wallada Bent Al-Mustakfi performed by the gorgeous Kenza Chater.

Last, there was the major performance of the event, flash drama; Hashtazia, written by me in Arabic. Hashtazia is derived from the famous story of Snow-white, but with a magical Saudi twist! The major characters were performed by a few of very talented college students; Reham Majdali, Yasmeen Jamal, Nora Al-Amoudi, Noujoud BaAboud, Nour Yaslem, Tala Al-Turki, Jawaher Zahran, and a few other amazing girls!

DAH stage

Although the time of the show was not suitable for many people, due to the unavailability of the stage, the show was a success, and people got out having great positive energy. The most comment that I heard frequently was “Very impressive!” We do have talents waiting to emerge and shine! However, it is just the beginning! More to come…I hope!

P.S.

Tomorrow I will post the two monologues in English, so stay tuned! 🙂

Glass Paradise

Posted: May 26, 2013 in My Poems

As she escaped from the hell of tides,

She espied a haven waving warm arms,

Leading her to safely get inside
A paradise of peace and charm.

Helplessly…thoughtlessly…she entered.
In spite of her fear and despair,
She felt the pleasure of finding a shelter
Believing that, at last, the world is fair.

There…love and tenderness she found.
Healing, caressing, and…surrounding.
Turning into a pile of wild bounds…
Caring, yet tightly squeezing.

What a loss to encounter such a discovery.
Her new world is a glass paradise
Where hearts are stuffed with slashes of ivory
And bodies are pinched by suffocated ties!

Standing on the ground of life…aimless,
She could only reach one conclusion;
Any definition of hell or heaven is pointless
For the truth on earth is a real illusion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Palace of Ice by Jean Paul Avisse

Palace of Ice by Jean Paul Avisse

A List of Women; the Elite!

Posted: March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Warning: This is a very personal and long article, so if you’re not interested in my personal experience, don’t go on reading.

It’s 2012!

It’s the 8th of March!

It’s Women’s International Day!

And against all odds, I am celebrating this day in my own way; an early breakfast at Theatro Lounge with my soul mate, Majdoleen Nazer, who is the outreach and business development associate in The Islamic Development Bank Group.

A very girly talk between two mature women it was, and as usual, being with my “bestie” is very inspiring!

The intimate gathering ended after three hours with a strong conviction!

Smiling to each other, we had this deep realization that we are happy, strong, and independent women! Men or no men, we are satisfied the way we are because we know who we really are and have this deep profound belief that no one has the power or ability to define who we are  !

It was a long journey indeed! Beautiful yet not very easy! (Don’t expect me to say that I have become the president or consultant of any place at the end of this article!) I am talking about the journey into my self!

Why am I celebrating today and what am I celebrating? I am celebrating being a blessed and lucky woman, surrounded by amazing women!

“A woman is another woman’s worst enemy!” That’s a rumor that some men (or actually chauvinists) like to spread in order to be in control of women! But women in 2012 don’t buy it anymore!

When I look back at my life many years ago, I find several remarkable women and only two men, my father and my husband!

Despite the male domination in this country…despite the messed up situation of women here…despite the upside down priorities in almost everything in this place….despite the superficial and non-productive people who get most of the media coverage in this country, we_ real & average women_ are surviving strongly ever after!

I am defiantly lucky to have a very compassionate father and a cooperative supportive husband!

Yet the journey of a woman (in order to be this full human being) must have other women as well, and certainly not “any” women!

Naturally, there were a lot of women in my life!

The jealous…the braggart ….the envious ….the negative…and the “will-always-put-you-down” ones!

Never heard of these types? Perhaps you are exceptionally lucky living on planet Mars!

Why am I mentioning them? They were part of my life, and they led me to resist being like them one day! I could have been something like that if I gave in to being a woman in the way that our male-dominated society instills in us from early childhood!

But I guess… again…I was lucky (still am!)

My career began with an unplanned spontaneous meeting with the dynamic, assertive, and not-easy-to-please Tania Tahlawi, who was the principal of Jeddah Private Schools in 2000.

Just by reading my CV and chatting with me for an hour, she “believed” in me! “You are rare breed!” she said! I don’t know if she still remembers those words, but I have never forgotten them and till this day, her words push me to be up to what she saw in me!

She wanted to hire me immediately, but I had to go through some tests and I had to meet the classy extraordinary, Mrs. Mariam Ghalayini, who soon became my first boss. Yet I never felt the word “boss” really suits her superb personality; a mentor and genuine leader suits her much more!

Ms. Tania and Mrs. Mariam have formed a turning point in my life. Maybe they were never aware of it, but they did that by just being themselves and by putting their trust in me when I was a young inexperienced newbie!

They believed in me and gave me a chance to be who I can be!

There was also Dr. Hayat Sindi, whom I met a few times only but was influenced tremendously by her encouraging words to me!

Years passed and things changed as they should in any normal life. I went to Dar Al-Hekma College seeking a new experience, and there I got to know an exceptional woman, Dr. Suhair Al-Qurashi!

And again I was blessed! She believed in me! She empowered me on the professional level and mostly on the personal level!

And I guess by now, people who have been following my blog, know very well what Dr. Suhair means to me.*See links below

Those women, as much as they have and will always have the greatest impact on me, are only a few!

There was my third boss, Mrs. Nada Mardini, and my fourth boss, Mrs. Fatima Bayoumi, who are two of the most professional and extraordinary women I have met in my life!

Apart from being fair, ethical, very productive, and always up-to-date, they did this simple thing that all the great women in my life have done; they believed in me!

How simple yet effective can that be! Unfortunately, many ignore the fact that women can really empower each other!

Today, like every day, I celebrate being a woman, not because I have all my rights..not because I am a first class citizen as I should be…but because I am blessed with women who believe in me…surrounded by women who have risen above the normal womanly trivialities.

And the list is long…the list of the amazing women in my life includes all my friends and my colleagues at work .The list includes all the amazing women who have had an influence on me and on others …who have touched me deeply…who have contributed to my insight and perception of life…to them I am thankful and grateful!

And here goes my list (besides the names mentioned above of course):

Ghada Al-Kousi: my calm, confident, and very hard-working Egyptian friend and colleague since 2001.

Jihan Al-Bayati: my amazing and very powerful yet humorous Iraqi colleague and friend…I can’t just ignore the fact that she’s a living encyclopedia, too!

Mariam Malki: my “recently-discovered relative”, and my cheerful, positive friend and colleague 🙂

Linda Yamak: my Lebanese friend and colleague and former editor-in-chief of Noor Al-Hekma magazine. With her, work was like paradise! We were the best team because of her serenity and soothing smile!

Dr. Ishrat Suri: a great professional and knowledgable mentor and colleague from Pakistan. A truly “rich” human being in every sense!

Karen Palmer: my very active and sportive American friend and colleague. She’s a beautiful and honest human being! Knowing her is a blessing!

Nabeelah Al-Ansari: the warm-hearted mother and colleague…always cheerful and peaceful like as any true Muslim should be.

Kim Abdullah: the dedicated, creative and very professional colleague that I am proud to know!

Sebah Al-Ali: the youngest colleague and friend in our department. She brought life and energy to all of us! She adds creativity and insight to everyone and everything she does!

Mona Nagor: our young Saudi assistant…such a lovely respectful soul and very hard-working!

Mae Zantout: my sweet Lebanese friend who used to be my officemate …unluckily she doesn’t work with us anymore, but she will always be remembered for her exquisiteness and dedication!

Reema Dohan: former coordinator of Noor Al-Hekma and one of the rare Saudi qualifications! Working with her is always challenging yet smooth! She left her job temporarily to be able to take care of her kids and her new born baby! Respectable, sweet, and professional with a smile that never leaves her face!

As I am writing, I recall all the lovely women whom I have know in my life, and my list grows longer and longer!

It includes all the wonderful women that I’ve known, and to my pleasant surprise, I’ve just realized that the amazing women whom I know are much more than the normal stereotypes of women in my life!

Perhaps I need to include all the members of Dar Al-Hekma to be fair! Yes! I am that lucky! I work with few of the best women in Jeddah, Saudis and non-Saudis!

And I must include Sahar Hejazi, the copy center officer, who greets everybody with a smile every morning despite the loads of work she has! Throughout my years at DAH, I’ve never seen her grumpy or complaining! God bless her!

Maybe very few people know the names in my list though some of them are well-known, but that’s the case with treasures. You have to dig for them to enjoy their shine!

Those are “real” women! Non-media polished women! They are hard-working employees! They are wives and mothers who really take good care of their families! They work inside-out!

I can’t also ignore the huge role that my students play in my life!

Yes! They make my life better! They make me happier and make me feel younger and more energetic! They urge me constantly (without being aware) to give more and to interact with my inner soul and to be proud of the influence I have on them! It’s truly a mutual relationship! I learn from them as much as I teach them!

Other beautiful young souls have also touched me deeply! Young Saudi poetesses, writers, and artists have always been an inspiration! Amongst them is my best friend Najla Hussein, who is a computer programmer and a very sensitive poetess (a rare mix I guess!)

And here’s a list of truly distinguished young women that I have come to know …each one of them has added to me a great deal and I am very grateful!

Dr. Maram Makkawi (one of the best Saudi writers. She writes in Al-Watan Newspaper…an honest charming person indeed!)

Reem Tayeb (a highly educated, knowledgeable & witty housewife)

Fouzz Al-Jameel (an inspiring artist)

Masheal Al-Ammari (journalist)

Ehsan Fahmi (programmer and writer)

Safiya Al-Jifri (specialized in Islamic studies …remember this name very well! She will make a huge difference one day!)

Other amazing women whom I am grateful to know are my Canadian friend and outstanding writer, Chiara Alma, my American friend and blogger,Tara , and my Singaporean fellow blogger, Deborah Choo.

I am also really grateful to my maid, Noura (actually to all the maids that worked for me!) Without them, I couldn’t have had the time to work and take care of myself and family! I believe these less fortunate women, who have left their kids, husbands and countries to seek a better financial level, deserve recognition and appreciation as much as any political or social activist!

If I have nothing to celebrate on Women’s International Day, I have a very good reason to celebrate everyday because I know a bunch of the best “real” independent women, who work more than they talk and who live inconstant struggle to achieve at home and at work!

I am thankful to each one of you and to all the many women who were not included in this post.

I am mostly grateful and proud to be the daughter of a simply one of a kind woman; my mother Dr. Hanan Abdul Jabbar! Yet I believe she should be in a separate post for her only!

Last but not least, I am really grateful to a bright dynamic young woman; my daughter Reem!

*****

I am proud to be a woman and to know outstanding women/girls like you!

Thank you for empowering me!

*************

Related Links:College of Love

http://www.aneyeonsaudi.org/2010/03/07/college-of-love-by-maha-noor-elahi/

The League of Positive Women

https://saudirevelations.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/the-league-of-positive-women/