Becomings: The Cat at the Bottom of the Valley
text and illustration
by Dana Dawud
In this dead city where I live, there are plenty of places where one can scream, or that’s how I perceive them. I have learned the ritual of screaming from my mother, ten years ago we were in an empty park at 7AM, she stepped down from the car, stood near a guard rail which overlooks a dead valley, and she let out a loud monotonous scream, it didn’t echo, nothing replied but I remember feeling really embarrassed. The air swallowed the scream and covered me with heavy density, I didn’t have the power back then to scream back at the air and shatter that heavy cloud of sound into small pieces. Scream-becoming-heavy-air.
Last night we went to the same spot, parked the car and walked together to stand before the same dark valley. My mother screamed, her scream was low pitched, agonized and muffled. Nothing replied, no echo. So I took her scream and amplified it tenfold: It was really loud, lasted about a minute, till it scratched my larynx. There was no echo, but my scream had to turn into something else, a scream never dies out, it morphs into different shapes that can be intangible. I heard a cat yowling, I yowled back. It was somewhere down the dark valley, it heard my scream and turned it into a series of frantic sounds. The cat and I, kept meowing at each other for more than five minutes, throwing my scream back and forth as if it’s a repulsive thing no one wants to catch. Scream-becoming-cat-sounds.
My mother went to the car and brought some water and food for the cat, we went down together but the cat escaped in fear when it saw us, took our screams and ran away.
Making ‘art’ has helped her survive college. Dana is a graduate in engineering but art has been her sole companion and interest for over six years. Illustrations and writing are a way of thinking ‘out loud’ — a visual exploration of the relationships between spaces, colors, lines, and texts. She started to question her use of language upon the realisation that she expresses herself in English whilst her ‘native tongue’ is Arabic; painting has helped her turn alienating letters into aesthetic abstractions. Dana is Jordanian and currently based in UAE.
ps: her real dream in life is to start an emo band