Authors: Gustavo Homsi
Tags: #september 11, #adventure, #marriage, #religion, #middle east, #orient, #islam, #muslim, #immigration, #customs, #bin laden, #culinary, #captivity, #traditions, #east, #arab culture, #miscegenation, #racial acceptance, #september 11 2001, #racial integration, #racial intolerance, #arrange marriage, #muslim belief, #arranged mariages, #marriage agreement, #cousin marriage, #arab countries politics, #arab cusine, #arab customs, #arab family, #bin ladens death, #brasilian family, #meddle east politics
From Brazil, passionate child
for aero models attends Military High School, and college at; car
mechanical engineering at FEI and civil engineering at
He works building banks, houses, sugar mills
Gustavo makes many trips to
Europe, Scandinavia, USA, Canada and American South Cone. He visits
most of the museums, cathedrals, monuments and important cultural
events in these countries.
In Ilhabela, he designs and executes thirty
works, dream houses and hotels, many published in the Architecture
and Construction Magazine, Abril Editions. He falls in love with
diving, boats, fishing and cooking.
He moves to Miami, continues with the
projects in Brazil and studies English at FIU.
After inheriting a farm, he’s back to school,
post-graduate, specialist in Ruminant Production at ESALQ-USP. He
dedicates to genetic improvement of Quarter Horse, and Nelore
cattle. He has a Japanese restaurant and writes a page, Loves &
Flavors, about behavior and food, at a city newspaper.
Currently, the author develops many projects
in the arts and literature.
novel by GUSTAVO HOMSI
ranslated from the Portuguese
by Tulana Oliveira
© 2013 Gustavo Homsi
This is a work of fiction, an attempt to
share the Brazilian experience, where East and West live in perfect
harmony. Any word that comes to be understood as an offense to any
of the two cultures is not intentional.
To Tulana, by the encouragement, by the
trust and above all, by the patience!
- Georgie, my son - said
are broke. The sooner you face it, the better it will be. I
asked to your uncle and he checked your accounts carefully. We
can’t help you anymore; I am sorry, it would be an injustice to
George almost crying listens to his mother in
haven’t had any legal debt collection
yet. Sell out your stock and go with your family to Brazil. People
there are having a good time, by now. My cousin, who lives there,
told me that. Thank God, your father is no longer here. It will be
a shame to the family, but we can bear it.
And she continued.
ind! You've done all the stupid
things you could possibly do. Hand in all the remaining money to
Samira and let her manage it. Come on, don’t cry, give me a
And so, they did. George Naffah,
his wife Samira, their daughter
Sammy and Eli, their little boy, have gone
to Brazil. More precisely to
, countryside of Sao Paulo, where Zobaida's cousin was
Soon they realized that things weren’t
doing so well with their relatives in Brazil. The cousin’s husband
was dead and the widow was facing hot times to keep the nice house
at the fancy neighborhood. Well, money was short, but they haven’t
lost their style and prestige.
Anyway, the widow received the arriving
family at home with care and endorsed the lease for their new
After the trip, Naffahs’ possessions got
even more limited. They saw many houses and finally decided to rent
a street corner building facing a church. It wasn’t the finest
place in town, but it was good.
was a commercial room in the front;
just behind it, a house with backyard, trees, chickens, anyway,
everything else for the family. It belonged to another Arab man who
had returned to his homeland. It was really quite a
The language, of course, was a problem;
everyone was struggling to learn it. The widow sent Carolina to
live with them. She was Brazilian, one of her goddaughters, her
parents died some years before. She got to the cousin’s house when
the situation was better; now, it was difficult to manage another
mouth to feed
Carolina was a blessing, diligent,
intelligent, always ready to help, and at ease with Arabic and
Portuguese. She was the same age as Sammy, they became friends
immediately. Finally, Carolina felt at home again.
In the beginning, everything was
difficult. Samira used to control every single penny. Finally
things started getting better.
received the pompous name of "The
Eastern Star." They didn’t know exactly what they were going to
sell, so they got a little of everything.
Step by step
, they had to learn the
neighborhood’s needs. They understood that credit was the crucial
point. It was unbelievable. The customers were nice people, but
they were used to live on the edge. The Naffahs were surprised. How
those people could spend all their money just after the pay day?
How could then live that way? Depending on credit to survive until
the next payment. Next month, the same again, get the money, spend
it all and get back to credit.
Samira, stuffing the
, used to think: - I have faith, I trust in the good Lord,
but this people put their lives completely in His hands!
Samira was good at everything she did. In
the kitchen she was unbeatable. Her delicacies were a huge success.
It is unbelievable how a woman raised with all the comfort could
work so well and knew so many things. Everybody worked, George used
to spend hours and hours in the store. The girls used to help in
the kitchen, Sammy enjoyed feeding the chickens.
bserver, Samira noticed that she
should reduce the Zathar, the traditional Arab spice, those people
were not used to it. She also learned some Brazilian recipes, and
of the "Eastern Star" was the best in town. A delicious
snack, pastry filled with chicken, bread crumbed and finally deep
as delighted with the abundance,
especially of beef. It was hard to understand how women could pay
for takeout if the ingredients were so cheap. Well… She didn’t ask
any questions, she had a family to support, children to feed. Bit
by bit she raised the prices.
The girls went to school together. Carol
helped Sammy with the language. Sammy repaid with math, she had a
natural talent with numbers, a gift.
irls, and Eli, the little boy, used
to study in the store. The afternoons were quite slowly there.
George - waiting for customers - spent hours teaching the
complicated Arabic alphabet to his children.
old them his people’s stories, their
legends. He was a well-educated man. Weak in business, but
educated. He told them how important their family was, its titles,
its wealth. He dreamed of paying his debts and going back to
Anyway, George’s mother was
restarted almost from zero, living a much
simpler life than they lived before, in Damascus, but there was
hope again, they would be better one day.
a good-natured guy, sometimes in
a slack manner, but, controlled by Samira’s hands, he could get
successful. He was friendly with customers, knew how to listen, was
Samira also got her space. As soon as she
mastered the language, her neighbors found in her a strong woman,
fair and wise, they could always count on her.
- Mrs. Samira! For the love of God, my son is
burning with fever.
she gave laxative to the child, teas,
supported the desolate mother.
The catholic priest, from
Germany, enjoyed spending some time with George at the store in the
afternoon, chatting and drinking a small shot of cold
, the Brazilian national drink, a spirit from sugar
Finally he convinced George that God was
the same everywhere and taking the family to the church on Sundays
wouldn’t do any harm.
Samira felt responsible about
that question. At the beginning she asked the patricians where they
their prayers. She realized their almost broke situation wasn’t
exactly a passport to any community.
, she didn’t find an Arab community.
The majority of Arab immigration had happened a long time ago. The
patricians got married to Italians, to locals, mixing completely.
This country had received those people with an open heart, they had
become Brazilians. She agreed with her husband, the Naffahs would
seem less strange if they went to church.
The whole family
was wearing the best
clothes and went to the eight o’clock cult. When the ten o’clock
one – frequented by high society – finished, the "Star of the East"
was open and was ”The Point”. Many people stopped to have a
, local kind of soda, or a snack. Some Catholics can’t eat
before cult, because of the Holy Communion, so they were
That year, the Samira’s stuffed
lamb got the highest price at the charity sale.
An absolute success.
The years passed by.
, even faster. That girl - skinny,
scared – grew up. She had long hair, silky, curly. Brown and
awesome. From afar, it looked tangled; closely it was bright,
fragrant and soft. Very soft. Her friends liked to tighten the
curls, carefully, slowly.
s bought the rented property,
built another floor, it was beautiful. There was a large terrace
overlooking the church square. Of course there are always ups and
downs, difficulties. Still, they progressed.
Sammy was young, but embraced the
universal law of smart women, foolish choices, always picking the
She didn’t like
watching her mother
worn out, working from sunrise to sunset. She admired and loved her
father more than anything in the world, thought he was polite,
elegant. Her mother was wise enough to not let herself down for
that, she went on, taking care of her daughter with love and