I’d never been up close to someone miming tears before. A remarkable feat. Eyes dry under spiky eyelashes, a woman whom I know in passing came up to me. Her cat died, she informed me. I expressed an adequate amount of sympathy, considering I’d never met the cat and don’t know her all that well either. This is where the invisible tears appeared and the quaver took over in her voice. The cat’s astral body had dropped by. She’d been pulled out of her sleep by a tiny miaow informing her the celestial transit had gone well. The cat’s astral body was doing fine, roger and out.
Great, said I. Wishing you and the cat all the best. Patted her on the arm and entered the restaurant. So did the woman with a group of like-minded friends.
This is Ramadan. The owner of the restaurant is Tunisian and doesn’t observe the fast. His wife, the cook, does. While the group at the next table moved on from their cats’ health to what constitutes a good Muslim (a good Muslim eats the same things as “we” do), the owner asked me if all the boys had the right foods with which to break their fast at night. The right foods, in his part of the world, begin with chorba – a hearty soup so the stomach can relax and absorb liquids after a whole day without, then a dish such as tagine. His message: the boys were welcome to show up for the duration of Ramadan and take home some food to break the fast.
I lost track of the conversation at the next table while I asked the cook how she managed to go without food and drink from four AM to past nine PM. Habit, she said, although fatigue does set in toward the end.
Meanwhile, four of the five tea houses on the square are deserted. Small town, everyone observes everyone else. (What? You wet your lips with tea?During Ramadan?)
The synapses go tilt on this and bring up a long-forgotten memory of – oh my god, while brushing my teeth, I… I swallowed some toothpaste before Sunday morning communion. Am I fit to receive the body of Our Savior with Ipana in my innards???
Writing: the latest, not even at the proto-draft stage at this point. Pulling together notes. Seeing which of the characters (regulars or newcomers) show up to claim rights on this object, or that observation.
Synopsis: literally, one word at a time.