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 Narges By : Samir El Feel

         
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: 25/02/2007

: Narges By : Samir El Feel    13 2007, 09:16

Narges

By : Samir El Feel
Translated by : Abeer Mira



I faced deep darkness when I climbed the *Chokhshikhas window . I reached out with my hands and felt my wounds but they were only simple scratches and bruises. A tear drop ran down my cheeks so I realized that I was crying without a sound , soft weeping in the darkness . Only the moon appeared eclipsed and divided into two halves while the clouds revealed and hid it , so that the rays falling in definite evasiveness illuminated the ceiling tiles , that are grassy with a green and dusty wild plant . A plant that grew under a dozing sun , and dew that wakes up before dawn and gets generous with water drops before being run over by the rushing morning . I knew where it grew and avoided stepping on it on my return and descent.
I whispered , while hiding my pain from myself : I wish I would die , and my funeral moves in Al Hasba market, and the orphanage boys be at the head of the scene banging gongs so that my mother would be relived of me, and I of her.
While I was thinking about the heart ace that my mother would suffer I saw her, she was climbing like a cautious cat up the ladder of the Chokhshikhas wall right next to ours. As if it was a written agreement between chance and appointment , a gray cloud passing by came and hid the moon for a few seconds, and the surroundings became as dark as eyeliner . I shriveled in my place, surprised to the point of being scared, what would bring our neighbor Narges to this place.
I saw her shadow move , and when she managed to ascend , she reached out with her hands and pulled up the wooden ladder, and climbing up to her became impossible. Barely a few seconds had passed until I heard her soft weeping in spite of the darkness . I thought of going down before she saw me, but I was afraid that my mother will again beat me with the leather belt because of my hideous crime.
A crime that made my mother almost destroy me , and nearly kill me , because instead of buying bread and beans for the family, I went to Al Leban movie theater , and retuned after the end of the show with an empty plate, and a bread basket without a single loaf.
When I retuned she was waiting for me by the window, she let me get into the house, sneak into my room, then she blocked the door, and asked me : Did you go to the movie theater again?
I answered with my face getting paler and paler until it became the color of a lemon : I went mum .
She stuck her teeth together : And what will your brothers eat ?
I shivered for a second before impersonating the character of Spartackos in the movie that I just saw : Mother , we can do without food, but the revolution of the slaves is more important . And in the name of God, tomorrow I shall graduate and get a job and fill up the house with bread and beans.
Before I finished my speech I got the first blow on my face, then she took the belt off my elder brother Ahmeds pants, and whipped me several times on my body . I tried to run away but she caught me, let me go a little, and kept a suitable distance between us that would allow her to whip my body with the leather belt without hitting my face .
The neighbors came to the sound of my screams, and she swore to put me in an orphanage so that she would be relieved of my doings . I endured the beating insisting that Spartackos is worth all the sacrifice, until the neighbors managed to free me from her strong , rough hands, and I had to retreat to may safe hiding place, the one that no one else knows about.
Up , up in the Chokhshikha , away from my mothers hands, and close to God, who sure knew that I dreamt a whole week of a day when I get into the movie theater , sit in the hall , and watch this great muscular hero.
Nargess weeping softened, and the moon light flooded the place . She saw me and gasped scared. I moved back a little : Dont be afraid, I am Meshmesh !
She came closer to me, reached out and touched my face : Meshmesh the menace ?
I said while hiding my sorrows in an invisible handkerchief and throwing it away : The same one .
She asked while coming even closer : What brought you over here ?
I shook my head unconvinced : A simple thing, I went to see Spartackos instead of buying bread and beans.
A laughter escaped her mouth in spite of the tears that were still rolling uncontrolled : You rascal !
She asked while she was holding my fingers and pleading with me to promise : Will you swear to God not to tell any one of our secret ?
I was so surprised : Secret, what secret?
I was bewitched by her soft , tender voice : This , our hiding place, no one knows about it except for you and me. Will you promise and do me a favor ?
I said like a hypnotized person : Yes .. miss Narges
She got me closer to her chest, and hugged me as if to gather a distant safety : He beat me several times, and pulled me by my hair .
I asked feeling my back pains again : Who is he ? Master Rizk Moutawea ?
She nodded her head and started crying again, and while her chest was trembling violently I felt her warm breath close to my face, and I wanted to sleep . Without asking her, I put my head on her knees and lay down trying to fall asleep. A sleep that would be filled with dreams about Spartackos when he set the slaves free, so they managed to demolish the fences and free themselves of all kinds of slavery.
My mother was done with wishing me dead, and hoping that I catch up with my dad to show him hell over there, and I knew she was not honest in her wish as she got worried over me from the slightest breeze, but my truly mischievous acts drove her crazy.
She fixed the position of my head while her hands were running through my short curly hair, I saw the stars far away, sparkling for seconds, then hide their glitter before they sparkle again.
I imagined that I was going up to the skies and asking the angels to talk to my mother so she will stop beating me with the wide, leather belt that Ahmed my brother bought from Port Said, and smuggled through the customs without paying taxes, together with the tuxedo pants and the nylon shirt. Narges had a beautiful scent that got me dizzy, I pretended to sleep. I said as if in a dream : Miss Narges , lets fly.
She shook my head making sure that I was dreaming : Fly to where my little one ?
My heart trembled to hear the encouraging tone in her voice : To the sky. I want to go there.
She pet my shoulder lightly to bring me back to my senses : Get up you cunning one, I am ten years older than you, how can we fly together ?
I got closer to her chest more than ever before : In the blue we can do it .
I felt her joy as she asked me : And we will color the horizon ?
I said while searching in the words for something that relates to me: Miss Narges. I want to fly with you without master Rizk seeing us .
She pushed me gently away from her, I got up and sat completely facing her , she put out her hand in surrender : He wants the son Meshmesh .
I asked confused : Why doesnt he get him ?
Her voice was covered in sorrow: I am barren. I did not have a child after a year and a half of marriage .
I tried to comfort her : My aunt Nawal had a child after five years .
She hesitated as she confided in me : But, he does not cultivate his land well .
I didnt understand her sentence, but pretended to understand : All land miss Narges has who cultivates it .
She held me from my elbow, dug her teeth in my chest, and bit me with a vengeance : I wish you would understand. You are young. Cunning and polite.
I shocked her with my mothers opinion that had not changed even though I am ten years old now : She says that I inherited evil from my father. Is this true our neighbor ?
She laughed hiding a faint tone of pain: I knew your father and he knew me. He was not evil in any way. He was a good man.
I asked her sharply as she was evasive when she talked : Miss Narges ... why did you come here tonight ?
She gasped while she was throwing her head backwards : When he failed with me, he beat me up, and called me a whore, do you know what this word means Meshmesh ?
My joy shrunk a little, as the memories took me by the throat to the past year of my life : Yes, it is a very bad word
I remembered the day when my mother sent me to work at his furniture workshop in the Manshia district, and how he made me carry whole sets that almost killed me, and if I was late for even one minute , he shouted at me, and asked me to bring a bucket of water and wash his car. I always saw it clean, but he enjoyed torturing me, and one time I was struck by the August sun , and almost died while bending under the tires to shine them.
I decided something and went through with it, I got a blacksmith nail, and at night sneaked to the public garage, and damaged the front tire of his car .
The next morning he stood in front of his workshop yelling at the top of his voice : Which bastard did it ?
The word hurt me, but I held on to my patience, so he said while throwing his hand in the air : He is the son of a bitch.
I didnt feel anything except me throwing myself at him, knocking him down to the ground and punching him with my little fist : But it is you what you said .
It was a very harsh beating that I endured without spilling a single tear. He got a thick piece of wood, and made two of the strong boys of the workshop hold me with my head down while he was beating me on my feet, and saying in a thick voice : Say I am a girl . Say I will not do it again.
I never said it, and felt the bottom of my feet as if it was a piece of steak cooked on a hot fire. The boys carried me home, and told my mother everything. Before she went to reprehend him , she asked me : Did you do it ?
I was not strong enough to talk, I nodded my head and my tears fell : Mother every day I wash his car when the sun is in the middle of the sky
Narges said while surrounding me with two tender arms : I remember what you got from him. In Gods name, he is cruel , and has no mercy for the weak
That day , my mother carefully tightened her abaya around her body, went to the Friday market, made a deal with two strong bullies , and before she went there , she took off a golden bracelet from the rich days and sold it at the gold market , and paid them.
After one hour, and as arranged, a bicycle passed in front of the workshop, and a young man got off it and shouted : Hell of a workshop. Who is the owner that throws nails all over the place so I can teach him manners?
Master Rizk fell into the trap, he blew into his hands, and said his famous phrase : Who are you swearing at , you son of a bitch ?
Once he held the young man from his collar, he was surrounded by the two scary men. The first said to him : Arent you going to behave yourself man ?
And before he got a chance to answer, he was surprised by the first blow that made two of his teeth fly in the air, and before he answered , the second man whispered in his ears : Go bully little kids well ..
And with both his fists tied like a nod , came down on the top of his head , so he fainted. But they threw cold water onto his face and continued with the beating. My mother was witnessing everything , and carried me when I could not put my feet to the ground because of all the wounds in them.
She told me while looking at him revengefully : Who wants to be a bully, let him bully men not little kids .
He set his eyes to the ground, and the two men left the place after doing something strange. They went away for half an hour, then came to my mother , and called for her from the bottom of the stair case : Meshmeshs mother, this beating was for the sake of Allah .
When my mother went downstairs to find out why they had returned, they gave her back her money, and with the money a warm bundle.
We sat around the kebab for the first time since my father died, while I was trying to overcome the pain in my feet. And around the low table sat my brothers Ahmed, and Tawfeek and my sister Ashgan. She was the eldest with two rosy cheeks and natural eye liner around her eyes.
When we were done, my mother locked the door, went back to the gold market, and retrieved her golden, stamped bracelet , joyful that God put on earth who will defend the poor and weak against the merchants and the brokers.
    
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: 25/02/2007

:     13 2007, 09:17

Narges said as she was strongly shacking me : Listen well ! He is coming up here .
We held our breaths, she stuck herself to me and I noticed a faint shiver go from her body through to mine. And from up above we looked towards him, we found him searching the place. The chicken den, behind the cheese pots, and the stored sugar and salt, the rice sacks and the stacked bundles of garlic, onion, and pomegranate peel used as remedy for the cold and cough.
Then he glanced at the Chokhshikha and thought for a moment to climb it but did not find what would enable him to do so.
I felt her breathing almost stop. She unfastened the top button with her hands, the light beautifully colored the flowers of her dress, and two small , dormant breasts were revealed, while she was closing her eyes, and entering me in a fatal slowness .
I felt a mysterious magic , and was shaken by that frightening unity, to the point that I almost abandoned her and descended to our houses roof, as he will not dare to come there, she realized what was going through my mind , as she held on to me tighter , and pet my hand. We heard him turning his hands , and mumbling a scary threat : She totally disappeared, did the ground split and swallow her, she will get her punishment when she comes back .
We saw him go down the stairs, and we heard the banister moaning under his heavy, angry steps. She handed me her lips, I was afraid that God will punish me, because my mother once said to me that whoever kisses women will go to hell. I kissed her shyly, and she whispered in joy : Thank you. You protected me from this maniac .
I asked her while I was wiping off the taste of her kiss by rubbing my lips with my shirt : Narges, why did you marry him then ?
She said as if blaming herself : It was meant to be.
Then she wanted to make sure that I knew she wasnt lying to me, so she held my hand, and reveled her back, and made me feel her wounds. I ran my hand over her and was struck by a staggering electric current, and saw that God created hell for such moments . I said while trying to regain some of my courage : Narges. Your skin is so soft .
She laughed and whispered : All women are like this .
I said in protest : My mother is not like that !
A crazy laughter almost escaped her and gave us away, she looked at the glimmer that she saw in my eyes in spite of the tricky darkness : She was like me one day, and time turns our soft skin into another rough one .
Then after a while she added : And bad luck turns the happy face into a weeping one .
She asked as she gave me back my hand, after feeling something strange hurting our meeting : Meshmesh, are you going to keep our secret ?
Before I could answer , my mother came up to the roof. She locked her chickens and only roaster in the den, then raised her hands to the sky and muttered : Meshmesh is very late, Oh God please keep him safe, he is my heart and my eyes, and still , he is a part of the deceased - God bless his soul .
I almost jumped off the Chokhshikha , knelt at her feet, and asked for her forgiveness, then yelled at her face : I love you too mum .
Before she went back, I heard her voice, as if she was talking to another person with her : I miss Ahmeds father so much .
And she continued as we were moving carefully to follow her descent : If it was not for the kids, I would have managed and went to him .
Nargess close body shook as she was trying to hide her laughter, and when my mother closed the roofs door, she whispered to me : All women are afraid of men, but can not do without them .
I asked her totally scared : Miss Narges. I want to kiss you please .
She said while placing her thumb and pointer over my lips : You will go to hell. Your mother said so, dont you believe her Meshmesh?
I shook my head almost crying : I know Narges. I know. But my soul is suffocating. Please let me touch your wounds again
Her confused look blamed me, and she sighed in the midst of the thirsty darkness, and we were surrounded by the long lasting calmness .
I felt that I had already went to hell.

* Chokhshikha : Is an Arabic word which refers to the part of the roof of a building that covers the stair case. It is the highest spot on a roof
    
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