Novel

By: Wajdi Al-Ahdal

 

Regarding this ongoing war, there is only one thing that can stir my calmness and drive me out of me reservation: war makes so many various sounds and terrible shaking which upset my sleep. Other than that, there is not even a single reason for complaining or being reluctant. I am not that very careful person to live for long, therefore, rockets sound does not scare me, and the aircrafts that penetrate sound barrier above my head do not bother me. Nevertheless, there is only one thing that notches me, i.e. what if I die without tasting love sweet?

In my temples are a few white hairs which people think that they attract pretty women, but this has never happened with me because I am still completely pure. My first and last wish is to be loved by a girl, any girl, from the deepest of her heart. Then I can go very pleased to my grave.

When I arrived to the factory where I work, I felt a considerable degree of courage and wanted to try my luck with the fair sex. Ashjan, the beautiful girl working in potatoes testing section, was the one who stroke my mind because I was very charmed by her the first time I happened to see her, but I was not courageous enough to talk to her.

However I picked a rose from the factory garden and washed it in the toilet, then went directly to her with a heavy heart lest she may reject my offer. I asked Ashjan’s manager to excuse her for just  half an hour break and she agreed. Ashjan came very surprised. Her eyes were wide open. I said good morning to her and stretch my hand to give her the rose. She very gladly snatched it as if she were a little girl deprived of love and tenderness. Her cheeks were rosy of shyness. I asked her whether she would accept my inviting her for a glass of mango juice and she accepted without any hesitation.

She was in her best mood, maybe because of my fresh rose, or perhaps the precious perfume smell emerging from my clothes has pushed her to show high degree of welcoming me.

I ordered two glasses of mango juice and suddenly Abdussameie, the fool intruder fellow, nudged me asking for a third glass. I ordered one more and handed it to him and angrily  pointed to him to get lost. When Ashjan blamed me I told her that that stupid man is a spy, but she was not convinced.

When sitting down and drinking the juice, I asked her if she loves children. She sighed and said, “Yes.” I took the plunge and asked why she hadn’t married yet. She smiled and turned right and left to make sure that no one might hear. “All the men who proposed me were rejected. They were not suitable for me.”

“How? I mean why did you reject them?” I said, while fixing my glasses as an attempt to tackle my nerves.

She sucked the juice from the bottom of the glass by the straw causing unpleasant sound. Then she threw the plastic glass into the pin and said, “Some of them were rich and old, others wanted me a second wife… that means… no suitable person has wanted to propose me, ha ha.!” I also laughed even though I was quite aware that she wanted to conceal her grief by laughing.

Then, looking down to the floor, she asked me, “What about you? Why haven’t you married until now?”

Now it was my turn to send gloomy sigh and telling her my unfortunate attempts. “Ah, … my first try was in my countryside when I was sixteen years old. I proposed my uncle’s daughter Saffiah. We loved each other and there was no problem at all because I was considered one of my uncle’s family and could see her whenever I wanted. Almost everything was perfect. Then, preparing for the wedding, all my uncle’s family members went to the capital Sana’a to buy all the wedding requirements. On their way back their cars fell down a very steep cliff and they all died, may God have mercy upon them.”

“Then, the second one,” I added while looking to the ground so she might not see the tears in my eyes. “She was almost my wife save celebrating our wedding. Just one day before wedding her brother was cleaning his pistol and by a mistake it exploded and the pullet hit her head and she died immediately, may God have mercy upon her.”

She unconsciously put her hand on her temple for a second, then asked, “Was that the reason why you did not want to marry?”

“What can I do?” I answered. “It seems as if death angel decided to take the soul of any girl I wanted to marry.” I said unhappily.  But Ashjan strangely laughed  and said, “Mr. Rabeie, those were just  accidents, a very usual fate, a destiny, you didn’t have any hand. People lives are in God’s hand. Would you mind if I give an advice? Find another good girl. By God’s will nothing bad will happen but all good.” “You mean I am not an ominous person at all?”, I said trying to fix my eyes on hers. “No. No. I do not believe in fables and superstition,” she answered with a polite laugh.

I thought of taking a brave step and touch her hand, because touching fingers could be more expressive than millions of words. The moment I started to move my hand I heard a huge furious sound that almost tore my ear tympani. I knew that it was  a rocket ascending from the sky. That was the most horrifying moment in war in which anyone hopes that the rocket may fall far away from him or her. After that I noticed different materials of the factory building flying in the air like pieces of papers before falling down in a few seconds. Then a wave of a hot air pushed me a number of feet and forced me to run away. Another huge explosion which I had never heard in my life was heard. I thought it was in the next street.

In a while I saw a tremendous growing shape of smoke in the air with a round top and it seemed to me as if a neutron bomb was hit into our city. I remembered that I was with Ashjan so I looked for her and found her laying on the ground like an embryo.  She was trembling of fear. When I stretched my hand to help her to stand up, she screamed at me. I noticed as if the horror of the whole city were settled in her beautiful wide eyes. “Don’t touch me,” she said, “Get lost away from me, the killer of women!” she added.

I was frozen in my spot because of her hateful reaction and felt very guilty as if I were the main culprit of all the dead people. I said to myself, “It is good that I didn’t ask her for her telephone number, otherwise she would have been amongst the dead victims.”

Out of the blue appeared that stupid Abdussameie sending at me victorious cunning glances. Without taking any permission he inserted his hand under her armpit and lifted her and leaning to him and thanking God, she went back with him to the building.

I left the factory and went wandering aimlessly in the streets feeling the whole word has sunk in darkness and believing that I was the most ominous person of all women in the world.

I returned to my room carrying my depression pain. After I finished my canned food, I slept very soundly. In midnight I woke up and turned the T.V on. I knew that the exploded bomb in Attan had shaken the whole city but killed only 84 people and wounded 800. “Then the event did not deserve all that fuss about,” I talked to myself. “Either they should annihilate all of us or they had better spare their time, effort and money.”

But, without knowing why, I suddenly burst weeping in a way I had not used to all my life long.