The Idea of Houses

The Idea of Houses


I sold my earrings at the gold store to buy a silver ring in
the market. I swapped that for old ink and a black notebook.
This was before I forgot my pages on the seat of a train
that was supposed to take me home. Whenever I arrived
in a city, it seemed my home was in a different one.
Olga says, without my having told her any of this, “Your
home is never really home until you sell it. Then you discover
all the things you could do with the garden and the big rooms—
as if seeing it through the eyes of a broker. You’ve stored your
nightmares in the attic and now you have to pack them in a
suitcase or two at best.” Olga goes silent then smiles suddenly,
like a queen among her subjects, there in the kitchen between
her coffee machine and a window with a view of flowers.
Olga’s husband wasn’t there to witness this regal
episode. Maybe this is why he still thinks the house will
be a loyal friend when he goes blind—a house whose
foundations will hold him steady and whose stairs, out
of mercy, will protect him from falls in the dark.
I’m looking for a key that always gets lost in the bottom of
my handbag, where neither Olga nor her husband can see me
drilling myself in reality so I can give up the idea of houses.
Every time you go back home with the dirt of the world
under your nails, you stuff everything you were able to carry
with you into its closets. But you refuse to define home as
the future of junk—a place where dead things were once
confused with hope. Let home be that place where you
never notice the bad lighting, let it be a wall whose cracks
keep growing until one day you take them for doors.

(translated from the Arabic by Robyn Creswell)

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read. It’s just one of many examples of incisive, deeply-reported journalism we publish—journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media. For nearly 160 years, The Nation has spoken truth to power and shone a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

In a critical election year as well as a time of media austerity, independent journalism needs your continued support. The best way to do this is with a recurring donation. This month, we are asking readers like you who value truth and democracy to step up and support The Nation with a monthly contribution. We call these monthly donors Sustainers, a small but mighty group of supporters who ensure our team of writers, editors, and fact-checkers have the resources they need to report on breaking news, investigative feature stories that often take weeks or months to report, and much more.

There’s a lot to talk about in the coming months, from the presidential election and Supreme Court battles to the fight for bodily autonomy. We’ll cover all these issues and more, but this is only made possible with support from sustaining donors. Donate today—any amount you can spare each month is appreciated, even just the price of a cup of coffee.

The Nation does not bow to the interests of a corporate owner or advertisers—we answer only to readers like you who make our work possible. Set up a recurring donation today and ensure we can continue to hold the powerful accountable.

Thank you for your generosity.

Ad Policy