Adonis Diaries

Panting for a miracle

Posted on: August 9, 2009

Panting for a miracle (August 8, 2009)


            Samara was barely 16 when Soraya Angela was born.  Samara got pregnant and she never divulged the name of the father; she may have not known his name.  As her pregnancy was evident then her parents confined her to her bedroom till she gave birth. Samara had to stay confined for another year in her bedroom for shaming the family honor.  Her three other brothers forgot that there were two persons in a bedroom; her father was invisible to Samara, especially for the new born.

            By the age of two Soraya’s world extended to a tiny court with a water fountain and four stone angels. Soraya lay on her back and focused her attention on the palm of a specific angel at the exclusion of everything else.  Soraya Angela could look at the stony palm for hours; Samara would take the opportunity to carry Soraya inside as the attention broke for less than seconds.  The bedroom of the two creatures was quiet most of the time. I could hear Samara softly crying at night since my bedroom was the closest to her.

            By the age of three, a three years old relative tried to talk to Soraya and then he broke in tears. The kid asked the adults around “I talk to her. Why she does not talk to me?”  It finally dawned on Samara that Soraya is mute and deaf and she had to accept this new reality.  Soraya Angela realized that she is different from other kids: kids could move their lips to express their dislike for dishes while she had to slide then on the side.  Kids adored Soraya and followed her in the garden and did anything she did. Soraya was best getting on all four and approaching toddler, cajoling them, and mimicking them and make them laugh again.

            I once tried to approach Soraya and she growled with wild large black eyes; there was no perceptible distance between her eyes which made her face look smaller; Soraya Angela looked stunned when I instantly retreated, wondering about by crowdedness.

            Samara didn’t allow anyone to approach Soraya so that by the age of four Soraya had only seen her mother and grandmother Emilie.  All the while, Samara tried hard to find common physical traits with her child; she only managed to learn to focus on objects as Soraya did.  Soraya grabbed the attention of the household solely by fidgeting on objects for hours, acts that could never leave anyone indifferent; thus Soraya got larger than the entire household and filled the house with her presence. I am confident that later on Soraya learned to increase these fidgeting just to attract attention.

            By the age of six Soraya enjoyed the entire garden.  She would drive the chicken crazy, ride on the back of sheep and goats, tie the monkey’s tail, and harass all animals around until she was exhausted. Soraya would then state at me with wild large eyes panting for a miracle; like something must happen now, shouldn’t it? Nothing new would take place.  Soraya would follow the ants’ trials to their holes and then burry her face inside the sand; she would then run like the devil to the fountain and dip her face.  Soraya would emerge from the fountain all puffed up and her eyes swollen and grinning broadly; kind of hysteric laugh; a movie paused on mute.

            By the by I managed to surreptitiously take Soraya to walking trips to the market; Samara knew but faked ignorance.  At dinner Soraya would mimic every one she saw on the trip and people laughed recognizing the individuals.  Granddad got fond of Soraya who brought him his slippers and tried to cajole him “She is not that bad after all” he would say to his wife.

            Samara took Soraya out once; they walked hand in hand and hidden by a red umbrella; Samara refused to look up or around in order not to answer to people. That was the only and last trip for Soraya: she was overrun by a vehicle. Soraya died at age of eight.




Note: This topic was extracted from “Recit d’un certain Orient” by Milton Hatoum; the book was translated from Portuguese to French in 1993 by Edition du Seuil.  As usual, I use the first person for effect.

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August 2009

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