We, some friends and acquaintances had gathered to hear the saddest love songs at our favourite cafe bar at the corner of the main street in our part of town, to celebrate these short days and these long nights. The patron, our long time ally in such pursuits, had promised to play, what he described as soul drenching songs, songs about unwhispered and unrequited love, his favourite past time, his preferred pursuit. He started by playing songs in a mutually comprehensible language, in the language of common parlance, to some approval and to some groans. As the night progressed, with occasional flashes of some remembered songs, some half remembered refrains and as it started to approach the hour of midnight, which he said was his favourite hour, he started to play songs from his native heart, that is what he said; for those who could tell, we heard the most soul drenching voice, as he said, of Fairouz, as it drifted amongst us, among the spoons and cups and plates and forks, as it drifted slowly amongst us, for those who could discern, these songs of Fairouz, the best voice in the world he claimed it was and for some moments who could dare to doubt him. And we also heard some andulusian songs, which he said were songs from our al-andalus, that is what he said, these are beautiful songs and you will never hear such songs again, he claimed. The best songs are always about unrequited love, he observed, amid some claps and some noise, always about unwhispered love he went on. It is always unrequited love that gives some meaning to our otherwise useless lives, he said later, love must never be lived he declared, it must remain unrequited.
It had started to rain by now, you know, that light rain, soundless as it creeps on us unawares, and now only the most die-hard fans of these saddest love songs remained, huddled around the spoons and cups and plates and forks and the best log fire as our host claimed, in our part of town, he added. Most of those who remained started to hum the few words that we know, as Fairouz sang az karuni and fi kehwati al mafruq, her great songs he reminded us, we must never forget her cafe song, he said, the one written by Rabbani, it makes my heart beat very fast and my eyes wet, he added. The night had now reached that mournful point where all conversation is useless and words have no meaning and we realized it was time to make our way home, we all thought so. And therefore I decided not to address that one person, sitting with her head touching the wet window pane, across me, that person with long brown hair and brandy eyes, I decided not to translate the song about lovers sitting in a cafe, the song Fairouz had sung and we had heard, for all conversation at such an hour is useless and the translation would have been so tame anyway. And so we left our host and started to make our ways home, in the receding night, in the falling rain.