Bats flap their wings in the dark night. Flying around and around a single lamp post, within the heavy warmth of this night air. And I think, “Where have we arrived to receive such a greeting?”
The mechanical screech-ripping sound of an old archaic printer. An artifact of my childhood. The paper torn from it noting our lost luggage.
We find ourselves walking winding streets between mismatched white-washed and blue painted houses. Pushing our feet against the smooth cement pavement.The heat still clings to the air in the night, as if there is no rest in this city, where flower baskets cascade from the building’s facades, and electric cables, like spider webs, are strung in a directionless crisscross, across the outer walls.
We sip our tea with naranja and rose infusions. Under the night sky. Our small glasses clink as we set them down upon the table. As our children eat pancakes with honey. Beside us, three teenagers sit. Playing guitar and singing in what sounds like a whisper. Our children gawk, and say it is embarrassing.
We walk the crowded streets in the late night. Filled with old people, young people. Families and lovers. The movement of bodies, the noise of conversation in the night. The city feels lived in.
Cats are everywhere. As if they were abandoned here, lingering in longing after their dead. Lounging upon the hot cement pavement of what was once mosques but are now churches and cathedrals. Along the canal in the old Arab quarters. Scampering under the Alhambra walkways. Their skinny furry bodies look hungry.
Where the guide repeatedly tells us, the word Alhambra means, “red.” As he coughs clear his throat from his late-night partying. And we look up into the cave-like crevices and juts of the ceiling, in the throne room of the Alhambra. A remembrance of the cave Hira where the Prophet (PBUH) received his first revelation.
Under the moon hung full in the night sky I point out so many stars my children haven’t seen before. Under which they play night football, upon the marble square. Where people passing, weave around them and smile.
As a lone woman with long brown hair sings flamenco. Which echoes in the acoustics of the square. A lonely weaving poem. And we stop, still. Men and women sit beside their spread out white blankets. With goods they are selling. Football jerseys, fans, sports shoes. Or your name written in Arabic.
And the night air smells sweet up at the new mosque. Where Aya and I sit on a bench in the garden, waiting for the others. We watch the last of the sunset. Listening to voices murmuring in prayer, intertwined with the tinkling water of the garden’s fountains. And Alhambra looms large and lit. Up on the hill across the way. I squint to see the masjid where the sultan once prayed. I close my eyes to remember the coolness of the tiled rooms where my fingers twitched in longing. To touch those tiles, to touch the memories they hold.
And in the crowded square across the way, someone is strumming “Stairway to Heaven.” And Aya, in her little voice, starts to hum.
And all of this is Granada for us.
Our children in awe of what Muslims once built. Wondering at the sweet smell of the lavender bushes along our walk.
We watch dogs bathe in a fountain together. And in the heat of the day we sleep late, dreaming. Then we eat ice cream.