A Blanket Fell
Heavy bag on my shoulder, camera around my neck and leather jacket in hand, I walked down Jabal Al-Weidbeh on an unexpectedly sunny day in January. Jabal Al-Weidbeh is an old part of Amman where houses are staggered down a rocky mountain all the way to the heart of the old city. In between the antique villas and smaller homes are family owned bakeries and newly opened art galleries, where a young crowd flocks to exhibitions and musical performances. Al-Weidbeh is a place of quiet coexistence and I was determined to get a couple of good photos of the area before leaving Amman.
I let my eyes flit this way and that, as I searched for the essence of Al-Weidbeh. Nothing caught my attention; I was distracted by the silence. The ragged mount was blanketed in a stillness that only Arab cities know, a deep and severe quiet that spreads across the streets and wraps around the homes every Friday right before the call to prayer. Just as I quickened my step, almost giving up on taking at least one good photo in Al-Weidbeh, a shout broke the spell.
I looked up to where a woman stood on her balcony, hugging her toddler, looking distressed. She clung to the blue railings on the second storey and shouted to her two young ones below. The mother directed them this way and that, her shrill shouts were tense and unhappy, confusing the children who fumbled with a large blanket.
I called out to the mother, asking if I can help. She said that she had put the blanket out to dry but it fell down on the street. Her children didn’t know how to fold it and carry it upstairs without dragging it through the dirt. I rushed over and roughly folded the blanket for them. The mother was momentarily distracted. She pulled her toddler away from the balcony and thanked me. Her children used this opportunity to quickly rush home with the heavy blanket, hoping her wrath would simmer down by the time they got upstairs.
I waved to the mother and assured her the blanket was on its way up. I walked away thinking that the essence of Al-Weidbeh cannot captured in a photograph but that it will always exist in that brief encounter which was simple and old-fashioned, loud and quiet, colorful and faded, all at the same time.