Little L stares up at me and hastily pushes back the curls forever in her eyes.
Her face speaks of consternation; dedication; fervor.
I know exactly what she wants.
It’s a stand off, and I won’t cave in.
Little C, the youngest and arguably the spunkiest of the three girls at home—ages 2, 4, 7—runs past us, leaving a path of peanut shells, pita bread and destruction in her wake. Little S notice’s L is at work to convince me to surrender my phone. She clobbers over the bodies smushed together on the couch and joins the repetitive, unoriginal chorus of “Telephone-ee…”
Nope, not ready to give in.
I glance up. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and grandparents surround me. With love and kindness they’ve welcomed this American “ajnabeeah” (foreigner) into their family.
They chat loudly and passionately, competing with everyone’s favorite soap opera blasting on the television. The telephone chorus is swallowed up by the surrounding noise, only until a dramatic sound effect cues the room’s attention to the show. Laughs, screams, jokes and giggles are exchanged. They swirl around us, creating an anthem of community. Of living. Of family. It’s their theme song.
Dinner is set out before us, a shared feast. Arms criss-cross over one another to get a share of the meal, weaving an ever changing human tapestry.
In the excitement of eating, which requires the use of both hands, I let my guard down. L manages to sneak my phone away and triumphantly retreats to the other side of the room. Oh well.
Satisfied, I sit back and marvel at the affection that exudes from the interactions around me.
It’s loud, all over the place, unfamiliar but beautiful. A song of life.