Uit: From: From here & far—2018
An afterthought, a businessman
He takes us with him in his Jaguar XJ to his office at the firm. He’s got a cigar, holds it casually in his hand, and twiddles it. His name comes from his grandfather: he’s called Süleyman. His father and mother are close relations: they are nephew and niece. The Demir family’s made up of his sister Nazzan, thirty-seven, his brother Mehmet, thirty-five, and him, Süleyman, an afterthought of twenty-eight.
We enter his office. He gives a hearty laugh and lets the cigar slip through his fingers. His parents started the business, small shop, small butcher’s. His father used to work then, just like his grandfather, in the mine. They grew up in Vennestraat, but have moved, taken a house close by, a launderette, a solarium. They expanded, thanks to his brother.
His father was murdered in Karaman: stabbed three times. An artery in the groin. Was it blackmail? Or a banal restaurant quarrel? The building of the factory in Genk-Zuid was postponed.
Now Dudemsa presses thin layers of meat on a large skewer and is responsible for the ready-to-eat delivery to the customer. The customer looks at the price to see if he goes for quality. If he goes for quality, he chooses Dudemsa.
Süleyman now lights his fat cigar and takes a glass ashtray out of the drawer. The walls are covered with white leather, the chairs in the office handmade, TV screen and trendy aquarium flush with the wall.
When he was small, he was always alone. With a baguette in his mouth, wearing a nappy, in the shop. His grandma looked after him, his parents were always at work.
He taps the ash off his cigar in the ashtray a little self-importantly.
Open space, desert
She comes from a large family that gave her plenty of space, open space, like that of tennis courts and a village green, meadows and train tracks. In summer she used to go on holiday with her parents, brothers and sisters in Guelmim, past the Atlas mountains, the gateway to the desert. Dusty sand and the smell of mint tea wafted towards her.
We spend our time in café Grazia Deledda, along with her husband, Salvatore Giuga, who comes from Sicily. Fallen in love, and married. The Quran and the Bible side by side on the table. They come out of the same cupboard, the same history.
Their daughter Anissa plays football. That’s her thing. And Ilias doesn’t know what he wants to do. Maybe he’s creative with wood. Who knows? He’ll figure it out for himself.
In the shop she takes care of the cut flowers, makes bouquets, washes the vases and tots up the till. She is multifunctional, she laughs and buys me a coffee.
It’s noisy out in the street.
The absent someone, the other someone
Give her something and in her hands it becomes fragile, like glass. She loves what is soft, of fabric or of wax, of materials you want to stroke, that you want to caress, but you have to steer clear of them, since they’re so delicate.
She sits in the studio and hears her sons breathing via the babyphone. Suddenly they stop breathing. Can she breathe for someone else? Can you breathe for someone absent?
What has moved her leads to what she does. She works for makeable man, who is soft and transitory, who stands looking, and waves to you from time to time with a tiny hand.
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