Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Fortune telling dreadlocks, farewells, and hallelujah

I walk into the Cabin, a hot Tuesday evening, intending on having a couple of drinks before dropping a friend of mine, Nick, at the airport to take that flight home one last time.

A "KARMA! I need you!" comes from a corner and I turn around to find another friend, a completely different Nick, is calling me.
He leads me to a table in the corner, sits me down, looks into my eyes as though he has seen the light of God and come back to tell about it, and says: "Ok. You are about to be connected to someone."
A slight dramatic pause, a silence, accompanied by a look on my face that can only be described as part worried, part smiling, part confused, part pitiful. The whole shebang.


Again. He repeats. "You're about to be connected to someone... I don't know if it's bad or good, but you're going to enter some one's life and be something special to them, or vice versa.. "

I have the mentioned look on my face still, this time it's become more of a "are you crazy? I'm going to back away slowly to not startle you" look.

"What are you talking about man??"

Nick, frustrated with my "look" and my obvious disbelief points to his head full of dreads and shouts "LOOK!" firmly.

Wait. I haven't told you about Nick's dreads have I?
Well it's a crucial element in this story, and an element worth knowing.

I met Nick G. around Christmas last year. A skinny fellow not to be mistaken for lanky, with a head full of dreadlocks (proper dreadlocks. As in Get up Stand up dreadlocks) that reached his shoulders. We shared many a drink at the Cabin, many a conversation, and eventually became good friends without the time in between. We even started a blog together.
On one of our nights conversing over a drink at the bar, I noticed a bolt in Nick's hair (yes. A bolt as in a nut and bolt). Pointing it out and laughing, Nick explained that "everything" was in his dreads and seeing that I didn't really believe him, he bent his head forward slightly so I was face to face with a mess of dreads, and started rummaging through them.
Lo and Behold. Earrings, pieces of string, bolts, beads, whatever could be put in dreads, was in my man Nick's head.
"They're souvenirs," he explained. "Bits of people that stay with me. You have to give me something for my dreads..."
I cracked up, and then noticed he was serious. I was wearing my keffiyeh round my neck, a 30 year old Keffiyeh that was once my mother's before I claimed it as my own. The years had faded out its rich black to a glorious grey, and had given it a few torn edges. One of those edges was long time tear-worthy. So, I ripped off a greedy slither off the edge, and gave it to Nick.
Five seconds later, it was on a dreadlock, claimed as mine. Beats sticking a flag in his head.

When he got back here in May, the first thing I asked him about was my conquered dreadlock, and he'd shake the left side of his head towards me till, you guessed it, my Keffiyeh strip dangled among the forest of dreads that boy has.

Coming back to my story, he had said "LOOK!"
Still with that amalgam of emotions in one expression, I went through the different dreads, Nick's hands frantically separating them also, till I found my dreadlock. Keffiyeh still there.

"Ok.. What?"

"LOOK! It's connected to another one!"

Following his fingers up the dread, I saw what he was talking about. My dread had linked to another dread all the way to the middle.

"Er. Ok?" I said, being ignorant of dreadlock protocol.

"They NEVER do that Karma. Maybe at the roots, sure. But NEVER all the way down to the lower middle."

Here, I paused. I still had that odd look on my face, and I'd held it so long that my eyebrow had begun to quiver slightly.
I'd heard of coffee cup readings, tea leaves, palm reading... But fortune telling dreads? Now, that was something.

I found myself split between two emotions.
One that told me this was as ridiculous as the fortunes in fortune cookies, the practical, down to earth grounded line of thought, and a second that was more whimsical, wishful, more willing to put faith in the unknown, the part that kept fortune cookie fortunes in my wallet whenever I felt the need.
After all, Nick wasn't just anyone. He was someone I respected, and had a feel for his spirit. I took him very seriously. And now this.

I laughed nervously. "Fortune telling dreads. Seriously dude. Come on..."

"Hey, no matter what we think, it's worth considering."

I scruff up his dreads, shake my head slightly, and get up to the bar. Yeah. Perhaps it is worth considering.

On the way there, I spy a pyramid shaped object on a table near by. My friend's bag.
It's been designed to look like those Bonjus juice pyramids. The ones that we used to drink as children that are now not as popular. Also the only juice boxes my father drank while he was in hospital before he left two years ago. It had been a sign once.
And then I realised what day it was. The 28th of July.
And as it all strung up together during that short 5 second walk to the bar, I leaned my arms against it, and heard familiar chords sound among the noise of the bar crowd. I didn't recognise it at first, and then as more and more chords strummed into place, i knew what it was.
Hallelujah. Originally by Leonard Cohen, covered by Jeff Buckley.
Hallelujah. One of my father's favourite songs. One that always, always reminds me of him, on the day I lost him.

I stood there lost in my thoughts, organising all these things that just flew at me. Before shaking it all off.

Ok. this is what must be. An odd night, high with emotions, in a Bar in Beirut, with the prophecy of companionship, a friend's farewell, and a song in the background of it all.

I turn around to join my friends and spy my dreadlock Nick, shake my head at him with a smile, whispering "fortune telling dreadlocks indeed..." under my breath.


cardejah said...


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