أحمد عبدالله إسماعيل - عطر القرية Village perfume

Questions crowded into his mind. He smiled without commenting on his wife’s inquiries:
"What is this? Shall we go back to your village?"

It delighted his heart, with trembling lover who saw his beloved after longing, the smell of the streets of that village that he missed so much and its scenery that revolved before his eyes as if they were a series of images forming a scene that summed up his life. He liked the luxurious life as if he had been born with a golden spoon in his mouth. He was not surprised when he returned to his village to find it as he had left it. He walked with a proud of himself and his state, and saw the transportation piled up on the dirt roads groaning from neglect far from the capital!

What controlling desire brought him back from a life full of magic to this village that rejects the logic of change?! What is its location on the universe map?

He did not realize at all the reason that made him leave his house with a broken heart, despite the feeling that crept into his soul due to the mist of the dewy morning breeze. He smelled the mouth-watering scent of falafel coated with the taste of the village and the irrigation canals that pulsed with flows that revived the its dead lands.

He saw from a distance in the fog that covered the horizons the shadows of men whose identity he could not verify. Perhaps they were stealing the money he had, the price of the land he inherited from his father. The sale was only out of necessity. He would deposit it in his account as soon as the bank opened its door. His heart almost stopped and he swallowed his saliva as he passed by them trying to get as far away as possible until when he came to the. He found them nothing but puppets in the shape of scarecrows made of straw and hidden in clothes!

He never wanted to reveal to his wife the pain he was carrying in his heart. No one wanted to change his village for the better. Rather, an old hostile scene of peasants taking their livestock to the fields. He passed by them and recognized them while they denied him. He looked at them. He doubted their readiness to change their lifestyle. In his line of sight he saw, in astonishment, the striking hoopoe bird with its chestnut brown crest that distinguished its head and the black lower half speckled with white feathers flying majestically after it had bent over the field parallel to the road picking up worms with its beak !

He felt weakness in his left knee as soon as he started walking and excruciating pain in his lower back, but he maintained his calm. After a moment, he turned his eyes in every direction filling them with the views of his village in an exceptional view that takes him back to his first life and resurrects him again, so he flapped with them to the horizons!

He was about to continue walking, but something suddenly came to him and caught him off guard. He stood with his gaze fixed on the hoopoe bird which looked back at him in amazement as if it were exploring the stranger who had returned to the village under duress without giving himself the opportunity to feel the joy of returning to it!

It was difficult for him to remember the chapters of the novel in a precise format that gave the impression of comfort to the nerves, but after a while he was able to activate his faltering memory. The last scenes of comfortable life -in exile- where he received a threat from the villa owner that he rented demanding that he and his family’s residency status be regularized. He was six months late in paying its value after his business stopped due to the Corona virus.

What made matters worse was his wife's love for the luxurious lifestyle that wiped out everything in its path all the time, making him irritable. But fortunately, life was easy, which made him satisfied. For twenty-four years, he has not stopped hiking and traveling in winter or summer. The situation changed after he had become accustomed to not having to worry about the world, but it fluctuated between various situations!

He was deeply saddened by how cruel life was in that village, groaning under the weight of deprivation of the most important components of humanity, after enjoying everything he had seen in his life. His feet felt the roughness of the road. He was wearing modern clothes and smoking a cigar. He parked his used car in a garage under a newly built house on its outskirts. He stood looking at the sky, marveling at the clarity of the air! The last thing that remained in his memory from those days was the luxurious car, the prestigious school in which his children were enrolled, his private business that suddenly stopped, and the threats of the villa owner!

He put on his sunglasses, then stopped and asked his wife: “Has any village I visited in the world been warmer than my village?!”
She approached him and did not stop looking at him with a harsh eye. She placed her hand on his shoulder as if she wanted to console him. She said that the Japanese village of Shirakau-go was the most beautiful on the earth. Then she swallowed her saliva remembering the sweetest days of her life with him in the Tunisian village of Sidi Bou Said, but the sky revealed something to her. She realized why he longed for the pleasure of walking in his hometown.

“Muhammad” felt that he was in a place surrounded by all tranquility elements. Then he looked towards his wife and said in a summary of his experience: “In the village there are warm hearts behind its walls whose deep-seated gentleness is only interrupted by a passing misunderstanding. I have never smelled the scent of perfume on my way as I smell the scent of jasmine at that moment.”

Then he saw different types of flowers blooming above the trees on both sides of the road, looking -just like his pure family- sometimes with pride and sometimes with reverence towards the sky, but he was certain of his ability to convince his wife to return.


أحمد عبدالله إسماعيل
عطر القرية

تزاحمت الأسئلة في ذهنه، ابتسم دون أن يعلق على استفسار زوجته:
-"ما هذا؟ هل نرجع إلى قريتك ؟"
أبهجت قلبه، برعشة محب رأى محبوبته بعد لهفة، رائحة شوارع تلك القرية التي افتقدها كثيرًا، ومناظرها التي تدور أمام عينيه كأنها سلسلة من الصور تشكل مشهدًا يلخص حياته، وهو الذي راقت له الحياة المرفهة كأنه ولد وفي فمه ملعقة من ذهب، عاد لقريته، ولم يتعجب أن وجدها كما تركها، مشى مشية المعتد بنفسه وماله، ورأى المواصلات المتكدسة في الطرق الترابية التي تئن من الإهمال بعيدًا عن العاصمة!
أيُّ رغبة مسيطرة، أعادته من الحياة المليئة بالسحر إلى هذه القرية الرافضة لمنطق التغيير؟! وما موقعها على خريطة الكون؟
لم يدرك، بأي صورة، السبب الذي جعله يخرج من بيته منقبض القلب، برغم ما تسلل إلى روحه من إحساس بفعل رذاذ نسمات الصبح النديَّة، وقد اشتم رائحة الفلافل، تسيل اللعاب، مغلفة بمذاق القرية، وقنوات الريِّ التي تنبض بدفقات تحيي موات رقعتها.
رأى من بعيد، في الضباب الذي اكتست به الآفاق، ظل رجال، لم يتمكن من التحقق من هويتهم، ربما يسرقون ما معه من أموال، ثمن الأرض التي ورثها عن أبيه وما كان البيع إلا اضطرارًا، سيودعها في حسابه بمجرد أن يفتح المصرف بابه، فكاد قلبه يتوقف، وابتلع ريقه مارًّا بمحاذاتهم، محاولًا الابتعاد قدر الإمكان، حتى إذا جاءهم لم يجدهم سوى دُمىً، على شكل فزاعات، مصنوعة من القش ومخبأة في ثياب!
لم يرغب يومًا أن يفصح لزوجته عن الآلام التي كان يحملها في قلبه؛ إذ لم يرغب أي شخص في تغيير قريته للأفضل، بل مشهد قديم معاد لفلاحين يصطحبون ماشيتهم نحو الحقول، مرَّ عليهم فعرفهم وهم له منكرون ، رمقهم بنظرة من يشك في استعدادهم لتغيير نمط حياتهم، و في مرمى بصره لمح، دَهِشًا، طائر "الهدهد" اللافت بعُرفه البني الكستنائي الذي يميز رأسه ونصفه الأسفل الأسود المرقط بالريش الأبيض، يطير في شموخ، بعد أن انحنى على الحقل الموازي للطريق يلتقط الدود بمنقاره !
شعر بضُعفٍ في ركبته اليسرى بمجرد أن هرول في مشيته، و بآلام مبرحة أسفل ظهره، لكنه حافظ على هدوئه، وبعد لحظة دار بعينيه في كل اتجاه، يشبعهما من مناظر قريته في نظرة استثنائية تعيده لحياته الأولى و تبعثه من جديد، فتحلق معها في الآفاق !
كان يهم بمتابعة السير، ولكن شيئًا ما أتاه فجأة فباغته؛ وقف شاخصًا ببصره على طائر "الهدهد" الذي بادله النظر في عجب، كأنه يستكشف الغريب الذي عاد إلى القرية مضطرًا دون أن يمنح نفسه الفرصة للشعور بمتعة العودة إليها !

كان الأمر عسيرًا؛ إذ كان صعبًا أن يتذكر فصول الرواية ، في نسق محكم يعطي انطباعًا مريحًا للأعصاب ، لكنه بعد برهة تمكن بصعوبة أن ينشط ذاكرته المتعطلة، آخر مشاهد الحياة الوثيرة - في الغربة- حيث تلقى تهديدًا من صاحب الفيلا التي استأجرها ، يطالبه بتسوية وضع إقامته هو وأسرته، تأخر ستة أشهر عن سداد قيمتها بعد توقف أعماله بسبب الكورونا ، وزاد الطين بلة حب زوجته لنمط الحياة المترف الذي يأخذ في طريقه الأخضر واليابس طوال الوقت مما يجعله عصبي المزاج، ولكن لحسن الحظ كانت الحياة ميسورة الحال، مما أشعره بالرضا؛ فمنذ أربع وعشرين سنة لم يكف عن التنزه والسفر في الشتاء أو الصيف. تبدل الحال بعدما اعتاد ألا يحمل للدنيا همًّا ، لكنها تتقلب بين أحوال شتى !
اعتراه أسى عميق، ما أقسى الحياة في تلك القرية ، التي تئن تحت وطأة الحرمان من أهم مقومات الإنسانية، بعد التمتع بكل ما رأى في حياته. أحست قدماه بوعورة الطريق، وكان يرتدي الملابس العصرية ويدخن السيجار، وقد ركن سيارته -المستعملة- في جراج أسفل منزل حديث البناء على مشارفها ، وقف ينظر إلى السماء متعجبًا من صفاء الجو ! آخر ما تبقى في ذاكرته من تلك الأيام، السيارة الفارهة، المدرسة المرموقة التي قيد أولاده بها، عمله الخاص الذي توقف فجأة، وتهديدات صاحب الفيلا !
وضع نظارته الشمسية، ثم توقف يسأل زوجته: "هل كانت أي قرية -زرتها في العالم- أكثر دفئًا من قريتي؟! "
اقتربت منه، ولم تكف عن النظر إليه بعين قاسية، ووضعت يدها فوق كتفه وكأنها تريد أن تواسيه، وقالت إن قرية "شيراكاو-غو" اليابانية هي الأجمل على وجه الأرض، ثم ابتلعت ريقها متذكرة أحلى أيام حياتها معه في قرية "سيدي بو سعيد" التونسية، لكن السماء أوحت لها بشيء؛ إذ أدركت سبب حنينه لمتعة السير في مسقط رأسه .
شعر "محمد" أنه في المكان المحاط بكل مقومات الطُمأنينة؛ حينئذ تطلع نحو زوجته وقال في استخلاص لتجربته :"في القرية دفء قلوب، خلف الجدران، لا يقطع أنسها المتأصل إلا زوبعة عابرة . لم أشتمُّ يومًا رائحة العطر في طريقي كما أتنسم عبير الياسَمينِ في تلك اللحظة".
رأى حينها أنواع الزهور المختلفة، وقد تفتحت فوق الأشجار على جانبي الطريق، تنظر -تمامًا مثل أهله الأصفياء- في كبرياء تارة، و في خشوع تارة أخرى إلى السماء، غير أنه تيقن من قدرته على إقناع زوجته بالعودة.

أحمد عبدالله إسماعيل


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