What I hear when I listen to Fairouz

Yesterday, as my brother and I were running errands, we somehow got to talking about Fairouz, a famous Lebanese singer. Famous is an understatement. She’s….she’s Fairouz. She’s probably your uncle’s favorite singer, too. . My brother started talking about the times we used to wake up and go to school with my uncle. My uncle’s a cheerful guy. He’d bid us a “good morning.” He’d ask how we’re doing. We’d hop into his Opel, and he’d turn on the radio to Fairouz.

My brother and I, sitting in the back of the Opel years ago, would look at each other and make “what kind of music is this?” We’d widen our eyes at each other in disbelief. We couldn’t wait to get out of the car. For some reason, we didn’t find her music or songs appealing.

I can’t speak for my brother, but I’ll say that that view has changed for me. It took about eight years, but it did. On my way to my university, the service taxis would also have Fairouz playing on the radio. Three things were usually playing on the radio at any given time:

  1. News broadcast
  2. Words of the Holy Quran
  3. Fairouz

I became accustomed to hearing her in the morning, and I would actually look forward to hearing her on my way to classes. Even the university cafeterias would have her music playing. There’s a calm in her words and her voice can somehow draw you in. It can bring you to sit in silence for just a moment with your thoughts.

Now, I’m halfway across the world, and I miss hearing her voice carried from radios through the streets again. I wish I can hear her voice coming from the radios. What I hear when I listen to Fairouz’s voice is the sound of the man selling ka3’k in the streets of Ramallah. I hear the sound of the serivce taxi engines as they’re driving students to Birzeit. I hear the cafeteria owners humming along with her music. I hear peacefulness. I hear my own thoughts…and a nostalgia, which I don’t know stems from where.

I open a YouTube video and listen to her, and her voice has the ability to sit me down in silence for a moment. A moment much needed.

Here’s my favorite playlist I found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlDAzMpbZso



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