“Parsley, coriander; parsley, coriander….; was it one or two she said?” I search ahead as I catch a sight of his figure at the far distance working in the fields. Now I just have to figure out where to stroll without stepping on any of the fields’ goods from mint, green onions, parsley, coriander, and all kinds of fresh vegetables. As I approach he looks up from where he stands; his shoes are dug in the mud, his old pants and bottom down shirt are stained with mud, his wool hat is covering his head, and upon his wrinkly face appears a shadow of a corner smile. Upon his appearance I get so lost in how he is able to manage all those organized fields and how can he know where each kind is planted?! By the time I’m standing next to him in the middle of the field I would totally forget what I was coming to get “mm, was it parsley? Coriander? Lettuce and what else? Mmmm” .In his attempt to help me remember what is it I’m missing; he starts asking me what we are having for lunch; maybe he could guess what the last ingredient is.
I was just a little girl around six years old when my mom would send me out to our neighbor’s place “Abou Wafic” to buy some vegetables. The journey would take two minutes through a shortcut road; the first part of the journey consists of reciting over and over again the ingredients you were asked for, then figuring out in which field he is working today, and finally walk after him from one field to another to get it all.
Our neighbor “Abou Wafic” is a local farmer from my hometown village, he works in fields all day long, planting all kinds of organic vegetables with the aid of his wife “Em Wafic”. Whenever you reach his place during the day, you would catch a sight of his working in the field. On the days when he’s out of sight, his wife would step out of the kitchen to help you with what you want. As on Sundays the whole image changes, both of them would be sitting in the shade, surrounded with all kinds of fresh organic vegetables as they prepare bundles of each for Monday’s public bazaar in the area.
The journey to “Abou Wafic” was almost an adventure that always ends with me forgetting one of vegetables on the list, and always getting a special gift which is usually a small lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and once the biggest radish of the season!
This little adventure wasn’t exclusive for me, I was the forth in the raw to have it, as my two elder brothers and my sister share this peculiar experience. My two brothers and although with a ten years difference, both share the fact that they used to be scared of him at some point for cutting their footballs when it comes across his field; which later they come to understand that he is only protecting his fields from their evil childishness. As for my sister she loved visiting them and she always remembers Em Wafic image as she prepares goods and viands. As for me I was never scared of him, I loved that serious hard-working farmer who has a special place in my childhood memories.
I haven’t seen him for years though, but I do always remember him being back at my hometown village working in the fields as he always does. And whenever I open a package of chamomile, I’m instantly transferred back to be the six years old redhead standing in the light outside an iron door as he or his wife steps in the mysterious dark room to fetch some fresh organic chamomile while I wait outside with the escaping odor of chamomile.
Sometimes you only need one couple to remind you of the real hard work, to show you how hard life could be, and the true meaning of celebrating Labor’s day.