It was an evening like no other. Time for the seven year old boy stood still as he played with his friends at the Malaab [the playing field]. It was the evening of August 14, and all his friends would not stop talking about tomorrow! Yes, for tomorrow was not going to be any ordinary day! Tomorrow, none of them would have to pick and string tobacco leaves as they have done every day this summer. Instead they will be going on a picnic to the Monastery by Naher Al Jaouz where they can swim in the river. This is an opportunity for them to spend the money they have earned from [ta'fear]. Ta'fear is the activity of collecting stray almonds after the farmer's first pickings. Many of them earned several Lebanese Liras, twenty-five or thirty-five piasters at a time, by selling their pickings to the shopkeeper Afif.
Afif, has already started preparing for tomorrow, for when I went to his shop around noon, he had just come back from shopping in the city of Tripoli. He brought with him all sorts of goodies to sell at his vending stand tomorrow. I saw many fire crackers which he purchased from Aysar Amer's shop, and several boxes of Mukh-Al-Abbed chocolate sweets. He was still expecting large blocks of ice to arrive from the Ice plant in Kusba later on this evening. He will be carrying the ice on his father's donkey to the Monastery by the river, where he will set up his vending stand. He has to go down there by donkey, since the road leading to the monastery is only a foot path and is quite steep. I think he will be staying there overnight, to make sure that his stand is setup by the time the faithful show up for morning prayers. For tomorrow is Id Saideh (Assumption of the Virgin Mary). He usually serves on this occasion a special red sweet drink made of rose water on chipped ice. He uses an ice pick with a wooden handle to chip the ice as well as a metal ice shaving tool similar to a plain with jagged sharp teeth. I have never been to his shop without seeing one ice pick or another lying around. I think this is a fallback to his shoe repair days when he used similar implement for leather piercing. Today, I begged him to sell me some fire crackers ahead of tomorrow, but he wouldn't in order not to upset my mother who is related to him. Unfortunately, I have no alternative, since he owns the only shop in town.
All my friends at the Malaab are going to the river tomorrow. I think my mother is planning to take us to the beach tomorrow instead, just to avoid the crowds. She never cared much about Id Saideh. My father is at work in Tripoli tomorrow and my mother refuses to take me. But I really want to go! This makes me sad!
As I pondered my fate, my cousin Fares and my best friend George showed up and told me that my mother wants me to go home for it is getting dark.
I love Id Saideh!