Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘“Earth and ashes”

“The stone of patience”  by Atiq Rahimi, (September 5, 2009)

In a few cultures, people select a black stone to talk to and they pour out their complaints and miseries.

The stone is supposed to absorb patiently all their worries, pains, and frustrations. Once the stone is saturated with the secret soul-searching of the individual, it chatters to pieces and the person is relived and absolved.

The man was shot in the neck by a comrade for a stupid angry flare up.  The man was a commander in the front for many years, liberating Afghanistan from the Soviet enemy troops. The man is now in a coma.

The mullah said that he will be out of coma within two weeks. The Hero, which means the absent one, is still in bed after 16 days; he lays eyes wide open; his wife is taking care of him. She washes her husband once a day, drops medicine in his eyes three times a day; and changes the serum; serum is not generally available so that she adds salt and sugar in water for serum.

The wife has been reciting one of God’s names everyday. On day 16, she is reciting “Al Qahhar” (The Dominator). She has counted the many times she has finished her rosary of 99 beads and repeated at nausea until she goes to bed at night.

The woman has counted the numbers of rosaries before the water boy knocks at the neighbor’s door; how many she recited before the kid on a bicycle drive through chanting “Laiti, Laiti djan, djan, you broke my heart”.

Day 17 is the turn of the name “Al Wahhab” (The Donator).

The woman has two small daughters; the kids are not to enter their father’s room: he is sleeping and resting.

The kids are frequently crying of hunger and fright. The house is quickly becoming a dangerous zone, a red battle line among the belligerent factions.  When fire and shells intensify, the family scrambles to the “basement”. The father of the Hero was proud of his children while liberating the nation, but now he hates them: they are fighting for power.

The mother of the Hero visited the woman’s family to engage her Hero to the cadet girl; it was not the turn of the cadet to be wed; it was not a problem.

The Hero’s mother agreed on the second eldest girl; anyway the man was not to be present during the engagement: he was on the front battling the enemies and he never showed up for three long years.

The eldest girl of 12 of age was given to a man of forty when the father failed to win in the quail fight bet.  The father adored the quails that he raised for the fights and never cared for his family.

The mother’s Hero decided that her son should be wed after a year of engagement: it was too dangerous to leave the girl free in her parent’s house.  The woman was wed without the presence of her husband; the dagger (khanjar) of the Hero replaced him.

The married girl moved to the husband family for three years until the Hero returned from the war. All the while, the wedded girl was to sleep in the same room with her mother-in-law to guard her chastity; the newly wedded girl never was to set foot outside the house or mingle with her previous girlfriends until she moves out with her husband.

The wife saw her husband three years out of ten; during the three years she saw her man occasionally. “I am afraid of you” was saying the woman to the man in coma. “The first night I actually saw and heard and touched you I had my period. My aunt told me not to divulge that fact. You were totally inexperienced in intercourse and you failed many times.  You were proud of my virginity and the blood that came out of me. It was supposed to be “dirty blood” but you had no idea then.  I recall one night, I was soundly asleep and you came in drunk and you violated me; I faked to be sleeping. When you retired from me you saw blood on your tail and you struck me savagely for having my menstrual cycle and not warning you!”

“You never allowed me to touch you when not making love.  You never permitted me to kiss you on the lips as I saw in the Indian movies;” went on the wife. “Now you are all mine and I can speak to you and you have to be listening to me.  When I left last night and removed your water supply hoping that Israel would come and finally fetch you I felt so relieved and sad simultaneously.

Today, I know that I felt relieved because I was able to divulge to you my deepest secrets; you would have killed me if you were healthy and knew all that I did in order to keep you to me

Note 1: This is part of “Stone of Patience” (Syngue sabour) by Atiq Rahimi.  Rahimi published several books in French such as “Earth and ashes“, “The thousand houses of dream and of terror“, and “The imaginary return“.

Note 2: On the last Sunday of the exhibition, this November 2013, I visited the Francophone books exhibition at BIEL (Beirut). I was with my brother-in-law and my sister. They were not interested in the exhibition but had to give a lift to their daughter Chelsea on account of receiving an award for a school picture exhibition.

I was surprised to see Rahimi as the host author in one of the afternoon sessions. He was wearing a cowboy hat. I had to leave and failed to meet with him.

The funny story is that Chelsea got the second award. And Victor kept insisting during the return back that the jury was biased on account that Chelsea spoke in Arabic instead of French that she doesn’t master. Chelsea studies in a private Maronite but English educated high school. I think that Victor contention was valid since all the pictures were from Catholic French educated schools.




March 2023

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