Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Chapter 97 On the down low

She went on with her story, deftly slicing courgettes into discs as the children were in the other room, supposedly doing their homework. 

The pot bubbled quietly on the stove.

'I just happened to be out there you see. Just sitting outside on the balcony. Anyway the lady on the fifth floor had a man come visit her. At 1 in the morning. Imagine. He didn't leave again until three. I mean, of course they could only have been doing one thing... he's been by more than once you know.'

'What were you doing out on the balcony at one in the morning?'

She shrugged and smiled as she pulled herself out of the chair to scatter the vegetables into the boiling water. 'Well, you know... I just happened to be there. Everyone else was asleep so...'

So she waited it out until two hours later to see what time the man left. Naturally.

Ah the Nablus grapevine. One of the most efficient information apparatuses in the world.

Despite being the West Bank's largest city, everybody knows everybody in Nablus. Or at least about everybody.

'You're one of the foreigners that lives up the hill right? My aunt's cousin's sister's friend lives in your building.'

'Well yes, I mean after all, his barbershop was burnt down after his son had an affair with the wife of the man he had earlier got into a fight with.'

'Oh dear, you should see these Ramallah girls. What they'll do for 20 shekels.... tsk tsk the shame!'

'So I saw the police report which had been filed and the three of them were caught in an abandoned apartment and you don't even want to know what was going on.... come closer and listen...'

'Of course we had to ask them to leave the hotel, we can't have the police coming in here and giving us trouble for that type of thing.'

There is no end to the delight Nabulsis take in a scandalous, whispered tale over a steaming cup of tea after a hearty dinner.

As in many other communities, one's history is their constant companion and scandals erupt quite regularly only to be eventually forgotten when eclipsed by an even more shocking event.

Most quickly learn to balance their chosen lifestyles with a healthy dose of discretion.

I will say this however, tea with Nabulsi ladies is never boring.


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