It’s difficult to isolate just one Asmahan (Amal l'Atrache) tune, but one of my eternal favourites is this sombre tale with the haunting, ominous drums foreshadowing the sad end. “Dakhalt Marra fi Geneina” (I once entered a garden) is Asmahan at her most understated and powerful, sorrowful and resigned. Every time I listen to it I remember Sharia ‘Adli during that cold and invigorating morning, when the sun peeked from behind the grey clouds to illuminate the intricate details of Wust al-Balad’s tired façades.
The singer walks into a garden to soothe her sad soul by inhaling the smell of flowers and listening to birdsong. There she spots a nightingale and his newborn, resting on the branches in silence. The father tenderly spreads his wing to protect his offspring, singing to her the tune of sanctuary: “O my angel, ask for all that you wish.” The triste singer feels momentarily happy at this scene of filial love.
But it is not to be. The beloved newborn flies off, leaving the father with a burden of suffering, waiting and counting the stars as the moon is his witness. The narrator leaves the garden in pity; the sad state of the father bird is enough to move the immoveable. For his beautiful beloved has betrayed the covenant of love.