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Dear Friend

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Dear friend,

 

I’ve been carrying this heaviness with me for a long time now. I do not know what to do with it. Of all people, I know you won’t ask me any questions, so I’m keeping it here for a while. I hope you don’t mind. I need you not to mind.

 

I don’t really know what to say, I don’t think I have anything to say. I just wanted to sit next to someone and not feel lonely. You’ve always been that someone for me, so here I am. So sit close, please.

 

Life is strange, isn’t it? Again, I don’t exactly know what makes it so strange, but I also can’t think of a single thing that doesn’t make it strange. Everything you love is bound to leave, time never stops to take you on board, you forget how to be happy. Every moment, you’re leaving something or someone behind. Life and loss have four letters each. I don’t think that’s mere coincidence. What are we, if not ghosts of everything we’ve touched, or been touched by? Every single moment of our entire lives is borrowed, yet I don’t think we can survive without each other. Life is ruthless when it’s lonely, afterall.

 

You know sometimes, I can really feel Time passing me by. I wonder where Time goes? Do you think when the world is asleep, Time rests too? I think it should, it must be exhausting to keep going on and on. But maybe Time is just like us, it doesn’t know how to stop.

 

Anyway, I hope you’re okay. I think we don’t acknowledge just how hard that is- being okay. So, if you are, I’m proud of you. If you aren’t, I’m here for you, and I’m not just saying that. If you want to sit next to someone and not feel lonely, I’ll always save a seat for you. And I promise I’ll sit close.

 

I really hope everything works out for you and me. Life hasn’t been kind lately, but I like to believe it will soon be. Someday, living won’t feel so heavy, and I’ll write you a happy letter. Until then, please bear with me.

 

I think that’s it. Thank you for letting me sit next to you and making everything a lot less lonely. Please take care of your heart. And oh, write back to me someday, won’t you? I’ll be waiting.

 

Love always,

Me.

 

written by Wissal Khaled.

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Rihet Lebled

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Close your eyes and allow me to take you on a stroll along a Tunisian street. There will be a mild wind, a golden sky, a narrow alleyway lined with vibrant green trees and garnished with exquisite, delicate white small stars. You can certainly smell the heady, seductive scent of the Jasmine bloom while reading. 

Jasmine, according to some, has a floral aroma that is musky and bitter. Others believe it is too sweet and passionate. Still others believe it is too wild and rich. But I take my grandfather at his word when he exhales deeply through his Mashmoum and adds, « Rihet Lebled ». And an old man who spent nearly his entire life away from his country will always be more accurate and genuine in describing the aroma of this flower than you will ever be.

Every morning, he uses his shaky hands to carefully tear-off the selected buds from our small garden jasmine tree, place each one on a stalk of Halfa grass, and then gathers a group of them together to form the bouquet.

Later on, he proudly places it behind his ear; occasionally, he graciously gives it to me. It is also made into a chic necklace by local artisans, which women wear tastefully before their daily evening strolls in the summer.

According to the legend, the God of Love, Kama, sent his arrows bearing jasmine flowers to his victims, Legend has it that Cleopatra traveled to see the Roman general Marcus Antonius in a ship with sails adorned with jasmine essence. And according to history, jasmine traveled across oceans and arrived in the pockets of Andalusians from Spain to bloom in Tunisia.

A title for a never-ending love story might be « Jasmine and Tunisia », because we respect this flower’s enduring powers, you can smell it during our celebrations and weddings. We greet strangers with their blossoms and bid farewell to summer with their flowers. We adorn our homes with their hues and sometimes brew tea with their petals. We start our summer days with their purity and end our evenings with their oxidized aroma.

We give it to our loved ones and it guides us home while also reminding us of happy memories, innocent childhood times, and adulthood regrets. It also evokes memories of « Rihet Lebled », and makes us wonder, should we put the jasmine seeds in our pockets when we leave this country, or plant it here, care for them and wait until they bloom…hopefully…

Written By : Nada Arfaoui.

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