Samuel Shimon
Samuel Shimon
What's between the Poet and the Church?

1 - Interior - Train - Day

Young man, 25 years old, sitting near the window of a compartment in facing against the direction, reading an Arabic book. In front of him, is a woman of 70 years, knitting, and sitting beside her, a child of seven years, eating an apple.

(Sound of the train)

The young man is deep in his book. The lady looks at him, rubbing her nose with the back of her left hand, and bending her head a little as she tries to read the title of the book he is reading.

The lady: (Smiling) Indian?
The young man: Arabic.
The lady: (Smiling. Pointing with her needle at the book) Koran?
Young man: Edgar Allen Poe.

(The sound of the train gets higher)

2. Exterior - Train / Landscape - Day

The train speeds up and cuts through the landscape, which is covered with snow . . . and disappears.

(Sound of the train becomes quieter)

3. Exterior - In front of a railway station - Sunset

From afar, the station looks deserted. The snow, which continues to fall, covers everything. The young man comes out of the station, walking forwards, a small bag on his shoulder. He looks happy as he plays with the snow.

4. Exterior - Narrow road / Houses - Sunset

Five African children playing in front of a house. They make snowballs and throw them at each other. The young man looks at the children, smiling, and looks at a small piece of paper in his hand. He looks left and right at the numbers of the houses, looks again at the children, walks backwards.

5. Exterior - House - Sunset

The young man approaches the door of a house, looks at the paper in his hand, then rings the bell. He steps back a couple of steps, looking around him. The door opens and a man in his sixties appears, dressed in priest’s clothing. The young man shows surprise.

The young man: (Shyly) Sorry. I’m very sorry. It seems I’ve got the wrong address.
The priest: Sorry, who are you looking for?
The young man: (Smiling) Forgive me, Father, I’ve made a mistake with the address.
The priest: Well, stop saying ‘sorry’ and tell me who you are looking for. Maybe I can help you.
The young man: Well, I’m looking for . . . for . . . a poet, I mean a man called Khizikya Georgius.
The priest opened his eyes and arms wide, happily welcoming the young man.
The priest: Didn’t I tell you I can help you? I am Khizikya Georgius.

6. Interior - Sitting-room - House - Evening

The sitting-room is nearly empty of furniture, many religious pictures hanging on the walls. The priest and his mother (80 years, fat and short) and the young man sitting around the table eating soup with yellow spoons. The priest looks very happy with the young man, he is eating his soup and smiling all the time, and looking at the young man. The young man is smiling shyly, while the mother is concentrating on her soup.

The priest: (Wiping his mouth with a napkin): Welcome! Welcome!
The young man is just eating, smiling, and always shy.

7. Exterior - Road beside an old church - Night

The priest holds a small lantern and walks beside the young man along a dark road, beside a small church which appears abandoned. Suddenly, the priest stops and the young man continues walking.

The priest: Indeed . . .
The young man stops and turns round to look at the priest
The priest: I was embarrassed beforehand, but you noticed the house, it’s very cramped for me and my mother. But, it doesn’t matter spending a few nights in the church until I find you a good place, even though I think you’ll be very happy there.
The young man: It doesn’t matter, Father. I’ll look for a job straight away and sort myself out. Please don’t worry about me. A few days and I will sort myself out.
The priest stares at the young man, and smiles quietly at him.
The priest: Do you think so?
The young man: (Nodding his head) I’m sure
The priest: You’re sure?!

8. Interior - Prayer Hall / Church - Night

The door opens and the priest and the young man enter. The priest goes to a corner and sets the lantern down on a stone bench. The young man looks around the church. The priest approaches the young man, smiling.

The priest: (Raising his arms up in a theatrical gesture) God, is there anything more beautiful than the smell of praying?
The young man is smiling and is hesitant. The priest noticed the hesitancy of the young man. He looks round as if he wants to escape the young man’s eyes.
The priest: We don’t use electricity in the night, well, rarely. The light of the lantern is more poetic . . .
The young man: (very softly) Father.
The priest turns round quickly.
The priest: Yes, son.
The young man: (shyly) I want to ask you only one question, and please . . .
The priest: (Interrupting) Please, son. Please, son . . .
The young man: They told me you are a poet and you write modern poetry . . . How did you become a priest?
The priest smiled and approached the young man, patting him on the shoulder, while nodding his head.
The priest: It is a very big subject. You will know about it very soon.
The priest walks a few steps towards the door. And he looks back.
I leave you to take your rest. Later on, we will talk about other things. Well, good night.
The young man: Thank you. Good night, Father.

The priest goes out and closes the door behind him.
The young man takes the lantern and discovers the inside of the church. He takes his lantern to the walls, and sees many pictures of saints, icons. When he raises his head up he sees a big statue of Jesus on a huge, high cross. He puts the lantern near a window and takes off his shoes, trousers and shirt. He gets into bed, and takes his underpants off under the covers, and drops them on the floor. He looks at the wall, his eyes fixing on the Virgin Mary and her child Prophet. He looks at the huge cross, then he takes his underpants from the floor and puts them back on again. He does the same with his shirt. He turns off the lantern, and sinks into the darkness.

9. Interior - Prayer Hall / Church - Night

Total darkness. Suddenly, the light of a lantern looms through the depths of the prayer hall. The lantern moves forward little by little, then towards the young man who is still sleeping. The lantern stops over the bed.
Strangled sounds from the young man.

The young man: No . . . No . . . I’m not bad. I’m not bad at all. I’m a believer. Yes, I’m a real believer. I never hurt anyone, I swear on God, I never hurt anyone.
The Voice: (Harsh) Since when have you become a believer, dajal?
The young man: By God, I was always a believer . . . I’m telling the truth.
The Voice: Didn’t you write a poem ridiculing Jesus, huh?
The young man: I’m sorry. I am so sorry. I was obliged to.
The Voice: Why were you obliged to, hooligan, punk?
The young man: I wanted to look like a rebel. Doesn’t the poet rebel against everything?
The voice: But, not against his spiritual beliefs, tramp! Do you remember your poem, in which you say you will abandon Jesus and walk in the shadow of Buddha . . . Listen to this, punk. “Oh, Jesus, you don’t know the taste of your body/So why do you always talk about Love.” Aren’t these your words, you heretic? And listen to this one! “No, God isn’t One./ He’s like habibaiyat, rivers, colours, forms, souls . . . No, God is not One.” Aren’t these some of your heresies? Confess!
The young man: (Crying) Well, I regret all that. I regret it, believe me. In the future I will write a religious poem. I will glorify God and the Prophets of the mono-theistic religions. I will praise the unknown and fate. I will take the Torah, the Bible and the Koran as my library.
The voice: So, you confess you have been a heretic and now you renounce once and forever.
The young man: (Pleading) This is the truth. Please believe me.
The voice: I believe you. I believe you.


10. Interior - Prayer Hall / Church - morning

The young man takes the cover from his face slowly. He is drenched in sweat. He looked strangely at the light of the day coming into the hall. He looked lovingly at the crucified Jesus, and then looked up sharply at the door. The door opens and the priest comes in with a plate of food for breakfast.

The priest: (Big smile) Good morning!
The young man: (Bewildered) Good morning!

Black screen and opens

11. Interior - Prayer Hall / Church - Morning

The young man wearing priest’s clothing, smiling and looking around the church, while the priest has shaved his beard off and is wearing ordinary clothes (jeans, pullover, overcoat and grey trilby), under his left arm, a newspaper.

The ex-priest: I waited for you thirty years . . . Yes, for 30 years I have been here, in this Hall of Prayers. For 30 years I was waiting for your coming, to take my place, I am tired of praying and the prayers. It is the time to go to the first love, to poetry.
He approached the new priest
Here, at last you know how I became a priest.
The new priest: Then, you are happy going back to poetry?
The ex-priest: All the happiness!
The new priest: Father, sorry, Mr Khazikya Georgius . . May I ask you a last question?
The ex-priest: Please, Father . . .
The new priest: Do you think you write good poetry?
The ex-priest: Good question.

12. Interior - Window / Church - Day

The new priest looks through the window to the outside. We see the ex-priest putting a small bag over this shoulder, and with the toes of his shoes playing with the snow.

13. Exterior - Road near the station - Day

The ex-priest looks happy and is still playing with the snow, lookingat five African children, making snowballsand throwing them at each other. The wind caresses his face.

The ex-priest: As a prophet lost
I wear my madness
And stamp in the wind
my face.

The End

This script is dedicated to Sargon Boulus

Note: This short filmscript is one of four, making up a single work entitled “Metamorphosis” in which a narrator introduces four different situations. In “What’s between the Poet and the Church”, the narrator explains (Voice off) that the young man is an Arab refugee poet who travels to Scandinavia with an old letter addressed to someone who might help him find refuge.

Translated by the author and Margaret Obank

Published in Banipal 2, June 1998