man with camel

In this world, there are expats, and then there are falsos, 
an Egyptian word that means fakers.

Consider the man in the painting.

He has traveled alone in the desert with only his stick and a camel.
He's returned to his late father’s ancient dwelling, which still has 
a fragrant garden replete with mature palm.

He has been a long time away from this place.
At first, he wasn't sure if he had found the right house.
It is protected by a low wall, which suits him, for, like his father, he
does not encourage visitors.

He is the true expat. The man with no country, no past, no material
encumbrances; he prays to Allah, his only Master,  for there is no
other God.

The man will take care of his camel. 
She will rest in the shade, kneeling, drink water that he brings her,
and he will feed her dates.

She may be needed again one day if he leaves, but for now, she is
content to sit in the garden and watch him with an air of
disinterested nonchalance.
The falso expat’s life is not like this.

In fact, it is nothing like this.
The falso expat, who is ever confident in everything he does, must
always do something, anything will do, as long as he is not standing
still. 

He must, for example, go to the cafés; he must always appear amidst 
others; he must visit the museums, and go to all the shows.

A falso expat cannot just sit in his garden, read a book, drink a
cup of sweet hot tea, and occasionally glance at his camel.
A falso expat cannot remain still in a cultivated garden, and watch 
the faint white cumulus slowly inch across the sky.
A falso expat cannot empty his mind of all the noise.
A falso expat must always be with ghosts. 
He seeks their approval.
He seeks their company; and he smokes hashish with them.
It's only a substitute for friendship.
He seeks, on occasion, to possess the bodies of strangers, or 
be possessed by them.

The true expat does none of this.
Alone, in his garden, with his camel, he is content.
He knows his right and left angels will protect him until the day he
dies, and when that time comes, he shall not be afraid, for he has 
never been a falso, or a murderer, outright liar, braggart or thief.

He has only deceived when it was necessary to survive.

Though he has never considered himself to be better than others,
he is, deep inside, unlike most.
Yet he keeps regular hours. He does not let himself go.
He takes care of his appearance. He eats modestly. 
He seeks to impress no one, for none of that matters anymore.
He is a spiritual anchorite who, nevertheless, does associate 
with others, but only on his own terms.
He has his books, and paper and a pen to write.

He bathes in the simplicity of the day, where the reverie of 
stillness is broken only by the sound of water and the birds that
drift into the garden.

His love of words and the piece of earth where he is from is
unbounded.

The man with the camel realizes that the time to believe in the idea
of countries has long past.
His country now is wherever he happens to be at any given moment.

All he longs for is his wife, who will be joining him in this place
that is far away from all the falso expats, an abode that seems
enveloped by an infinite sense of the divine.

She will arrive soon, he thinks, as he sits in his father’s garden,
patiently waiting.
Allah willing, she will be with him in no time at all.

leaving america