Thursday, February 28, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Monday, May 02, 2011
Shall I stretch a hand or bother not!
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Yes We Can
Sunday, November 29, 2009
A soul in Torment
An extract from a story called A Soul in Torment in my Second Collection of short stories:
"Najma motioned to me and I approached hesitantly. She said, “You are a very pretty girl. Who is your father?”
I said, “ Ahmed.”
She asked again, “Ahmed who?”
I said, “Ahmed Khair-Allah.”
“Ah! The son of the ugly Mardhyia! Who is your mother?”
“Ah, the beautiful Hamida! Just like her mother Mariam. Don’t play with the boys girl. A pretty girl like you should never play with boys. Boys do bad things to young girls. In few years a good man will pay a handsome dowry for you and make you his woman.”
I hated her immediately.
“Jamila! What are you doing here? Bothering Hajja Najma. Go and ask your mother to make us tea,” my grandmother said.
“No, no Mariam. Un café con biscotti!” Said Najma to my grandmother.
My grandmother smiled and said, “Bahi, my dear. You are killing yourself with coffee and cigarettes.”
The year I turned ten Najma visited us in our flat in Benghazi. We were busy preparing for my sister Widad’s wedding. My grandmother Mariam and aunt Karima were bent over their Singer sewing machines making sheets, pillowcases and curtains for Widas’s trousseau, from early morning.
The day Najma came my mother was making me a dress on her old treadle machine. Her mouth was full of pins and cut-up red velvet and scraps of tissue-paper patterns and lace surrounded her. She made me stand still and turn for endless fittings, which she called provas but pronounced as brovas.
“Come Jamila for a brova,” she said.
When Najma entered the room I was standing on a chair for one of my mother’s endless provas. I was tired and restless and all I wanted to do is go out and play with my new bicycle. She was squatting beneath me, her fat varicosed legs bulging from beneath her dress.
“Girl, can’t you stand still for few minutes?” My mother said around the pins in her mouth.
“She can’t. Lei è un’anima in pena,” said Najma.
I blushed even though I didn’t understand what she said. My mother removed the pins from her mouth and heaved herself up. She moved with a ponderous matriarchal discomfort, her over-sized thighs swung like two gigantic cushions. My mother gave Najma lavish loud kisses while Najma stood still for them as if she were a soldier giving a salute to his chief ....)
To be continued.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Amor Senza Baruffa!
A while ago I wrote a story and the main character in the story is a short dark woman who has a huge nose and almost no lips. She keeps shouting in Italian: Amor senza baruffa fa venire la muffa. Which roughly translates as: Love without scuffle is like mould on the wall! This crazy woman is haunting me and keeps popping up in each story I write but I’m fighting her off, suppressing her, as I don't want her to take hold of my stories. I liked her the first time I created her but now she is becoming a nightmare. Anyway, here is an extract from another story I wrote in the same cafe, but not haunted by the crazy woman:
((The Egyptian wife Laila, now no longer young or petrified, fitted nicely among the large family, like a pair of old comfortable slippers. She spoke fluently the North-eastern Libyan dialect, only few lapses gave in her Egyptian root, and excelled at all sorts of North-eastern cuisine. She also became a great flogger of her children, like her sisters-in-law: Nuria, Mbarka, Aisha, Salma, and Salha. The sisters-in-law would pounce on their children at any sign of wrongdoing or misbehaviour, thrashing them with great energy and zeal. Olive tree branches, carefully selected and trimmed into perfection, were used during the flogging sessions. The flogger often spoke while performing:
“I will mince you up if you ever do it again.”
“I will crush your skull if you touch things that don't belong to you.”
Abusive remarks for the child’s paternal grandmother, aunts, and uncles were also used with great enthusiasm:
“You are just as wicked and mischievous as your paternal grandmother, the witch.”
“You and your paternal aunt Fawzia, the scorpion, are like two peas in a pod, both ugly and useless.”
During each flogging session the other sisters would come out into the courtyard to watch, rocking ugly crying babies in their jewellery-laden arms or patting their swelled up bellies and say without sincerity:
“Stop it woman, you are killing the child.”
“Yea, stop it, you will damage the child.”
The flogged child’s screams would fill the inner courtyard and travel to the men’s quarter, summoning Hajj Salim, who would knock at the door of the women’s quarter and shout:
“Ya Allah. Hajja Halima! Tell the women to stop it or by Allah Almighty I will come in and beat the hell out of them.”
The flogger, now tired and satisfied, would stop. The small crowd of sisters and their children would disperse, unsatisfied. The flogged boy or girl would seek comfort from Grandma Halima, smearing her immaculate Reda in tears and snots.
But Laila the legendary flogger did not hurl abuse at the child’s paternal lineage or used a carefully selected and trimmed olive tree branch. She rather used a thick medium-sized piece of rubber water hose locally known as Tubo. The Tubo left an intricate chequered design of various hues on the child’s skin: black, dark purple, sallow, and green, speckled with yellow, just like mignonette flowers. ))
“Amor senza baruffa!” Oh God, no, she is haunting me again. Better go and throttle her.