The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop
It was early morning, and I woke up to the melody of the songs my mom likes to play on the tape recorder. I heard my mom cleaning around the house preparing for a big project for today.
I felt I needed a few minutes to move from my bed. I wrote my favourite words on the wall, not with a pencil but with my finger. I liked tracing words on the wall! I was seven years old and just started learning to write words. I felt happy and proud when reading or writing new words. I traced the words “love”, “mom” and “jam” because I love my mom and the jam that she makes for us.
Yesterday, the mobile vegetable seller brought a bulk order of the best kind of apricots that mom had ordered. He drove his small truck between streets and lanes in my hometown of Damascus, Syria selling his seasonal fruits and vegetables. He would sell all the different kinds of apricots: “Alkelabi,” “Al Baladi,” “Al Ajami,” “Al Hamoui,” and “Attadmuri.”.
He called out the names of the produce for sale in funny rhymes so the people would buy from him:
المشمش ما وردي يا بلدي …
…دايب يا مشمش
The apricots are from Al-Baladi kind and they are reddish.
The apricots are ripened and tender and almost melted.
Albaladi and Alajamia were the best for making jam. My mom looked for big-sized fruit, reddish, and sweet.
I knew there would be busy days ahead making jams. Yesterday, my sisters Rawan and Dayana and I helped my mom remove the seeds from the fruits. We loved helping mom while chatting! My mom liked to talk about our future. She had a sense of humor too, I laughed at her jokes sometimes. At other times, I felt mad if she got upset with me because of the mess I made.
I was very excited to see the jam ready in jars, but I knew I had to wait for a week or two before I could taste it! Preparing jam is a long process!
My mom was very picky about the final product. She took care of every step. She would not accept anything other than perfect work and perfect results. I enjoyed watching her prepare food. My mom left the soft, velvety skins on the apricots and cut them in half. She cooked down the half-cut apricots with sugar. She needed to be precise about the time of cooking to get a beautiful orange-amber color. She removed the froth from the top of the mix constantly during the cooking, so the jam did not get bitter. She then poured the mix into trays, covered them with gauze, and let them sit under the sun to thicken for a week. I would go up to the roof with my mom to check it every day. We checked if the color was good and if the thickness was perfect. When it was ready, my mom filled the jars with yummy jam.
My mom made the best jam on earth with her talented hands. Oh! if I could describe the sweetness of that jam, or the aroma that filled the air of the house, or the color that was just right, not too dark, or too light. Our kitchen was teeny tiny and barely fit two people, and had only three shelves, and yet my mom magically prepared the most delicious food. She lined up the many jars of different kinds of preserves neatly on the shelves. I knew that the delicious jam waited for me on the shelf all winter, calling me to eat some with pita bread and white cheese when I came back from school hungry.
My mom’s care accompanied us even after she passed away the winter that I turned fourteen years old. That winter, I found the jam she made the year before, waiting for me on the shelf when I came back from school. My mom did not know that she would leave us forever, but she left us this treasure she made with her hands.
I miss those days that were bundled with love, care, and warmth from my mom. I wish my mom could have spent more hours talking to us, kissing us, hugging us, telling us more stories about her childhood, and sharing with us her dreams and wisdom.
I miss her. And I know that my mom’s love and care were packed in that delicious jam.