Shira_Dina Makkouk, Tripoli(Libano)

_Energheia Liban 2010 Award.

 

With gracefulness of a deer, royalty of a queen, she roamed the stage greeting her audience with a big smile.

Then she stepped back to the middle of the stage, where she started narrating Shater Hassan and the Mermaid story.

She expressed pain, passion, desire and love; the audience was hypnotized by her performance. As she finished, she threw herself on the stage with her chest moving up and down.

The audience stood up clapping a big bravo!

She conveyed the magic of old Arabian nights without uttering a single word!

That was Shira! The 30 year-old lady that enchants the hearts of men every night on Palladium stage, Beirut.

It was only five years ago, when her Belly dancing career started, but since then she has been the icon of beauty, charm and elegance.

Fame, freedom and passion have been all what her heart longed for and she got them all. She never thought that one day she would have that much money, or that she would have T.V. interviews or would have so many men interested in her…

But it happened!

Many times she wondered: “Why am I not happy? Am I going to spend my life dancing every night?” It seems there is a missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle.

Last year she went to a fortune teller; her visit was unusually short. The lady told her that there would be an abrupt change in her life. She seemed to have seen something frightening in the crystal bowl, but could not convey it to Shira.

That event didn’t frighten her. May be it’s her adventurous spirit or her longing for change, and optimism. Since then the young dancer has been waiting for that change every day!

On one full moon summer night, a lovely spirit visited her. He came next to her bed whispering an invitation. Shira was sleeping but it all seemed so real.

The Spirit gently said: “Let go, Allow your spirit to rise and float with the windy waves”.

Shira joined the Spirit in an adventure to the unknown.

Many spirits were up there in the sky. All seemed happy and excited.

Shira asked: “Dear Spirit, who are those spirits? And why everyone here is happy?”

The Spirit replied: “Those are the souls that will integrate into fetuses to become babies; they are soon coming to your world”.

Shira asked in turn: “Do they know that agony, misery and pain are inevitable moments in the life down there?”

The Spirit answered her: “Sure! Spirits who do not have the courage to conquer obstacles are not sent to Earth. Each spirit knows his mission and is strong enough to face obstacles. They are also aware of their contemporary stay”.

Shira protesting: “But I can’t see that everyone around can overcome obstacles, can know his or her life purpose, and can pass difficulties without collapsing”.

The Spirit said: “Very true. The human heart is originally filled with love, armed with its connection to the Divine; however, when the human heart is enticed with demerits, all the light and connection to the Divine simmer down. Consequently, the desperate dark heart can no longer overcome life obstacles”.

Shira, overwhelmed with the ocean of wisdom, peace and love, asked the Spirit if she could stay up there. The Spirit said: “No my dear, it’s not up to you to choose; it‘s time to return home and start a new day tomorrow”.

That morning Shira woke up happily with a paroxysm of love toward everyone in her own magnificent world. Even her performance that night was different; she no longer tried to seduce men with her playful eyes, or her charming body.

All that she wanted was to finish her performance and go back to sleep, hoping the Spirit would come and invite her to another adventure.

Not that night, not the one after did the Spirit come again.

Though Shira wasn’t promised that a series of adventures in heaven would come, yet she had hope that it wasn’t the end and for that she kept waiting for the Spirit.

One night after the show, she left for a walk Downtown; all she wanted was to be alone. It was 3:30 A.M. and all the coffee shops were empty; she laid her tired body on a chair and enjoyed her loneliness.

A voice coming from the back said: “Still waiting for the Spirit?”, shattering her inner silence.

That was the voice of an old man passing by. He saluted her with a smile and a weird look that pierced her soul. Shira followed him asking: “Sir, how do you know my secret?”

The man smiled: “I know all your secrets”.

“Excuse me sir, I don’t understand anything. Have we met before?”

“Yes, sure! We met even before you came to this world. I’m Mr. Destiny”.

“I have always wished to meet you, talk to you and ask you many questions”.

“Then go ahead young girl”.

“I’ve always wondered whether you change people’s hearts and minds all the time. Is it that people can also change your mind?”

“My dear, it’s more like a game. You have a deck of cards, and according to how you play, I play back with you. Among your cards are the aces representing opportunities. Sometimes you may have an Ace but don’t know how and when to play it. It’s a fair game, but as you know I have all the jokers which will cause turning points in your life”.

His answer left her speechless. The old man smiled to her, turned his back and disappeared in the darkness.

Too much light, noise, and camera flashes woke her up.

The photographers were around her saying: “Good morning Shira. How come you are sleeping here?”

She wasn’t ready for any interviews. She smiled back and left them without saying one word.

She wished she could reshuffle the cards and play the game all over again. She wondered what her Aces were, whether or not she played well.

Driving back home, she heard breaking news on the radio: “Shira was seen sleeping early in the morning in a coffee shop, Downtown, Beirut. Lately her performance declined as one of her fans declared: Is she going to be elected again this year as Queen of Arabian Nights?

To her surprise, the Palladium manager asked to meet her half an hour before the night show. Without even greeting, he started questioning her loudly: “What’s going on? Where did the flame go? Where is your hot performance? Do you think you can entertain the audience with such shows? You are my Ace. We are both making a lot of money out of this. I won’t let you fade away”. His words struck her heart. She couldn’t defend herself, and for the very first time she didn’t even want to. She just moved to the stage, greeting her audience with her usual big smile.

That night, it was her rebellious spirit dancing. She never expressed pain or passion so intensely; her audience was thrilled with the scenes she presented; everyone was happy to watch her but she was suffering; her heart longed for freedom; her soul missed the heavenly joy. Thus, she wasn’t narrating an old Arabian story; it was her own story this time.

As the music slowed down, she started to whirl, like a butterfly burned by light. Then, for the last time she threw herself on stage.