Saturday, October 3, 2009

Partners of Tulip

Sort Story by: Hisham Adam
Translated by: Hisham Adam
She knelt on her knees in front of his grave too slowly like a dimmed lighting angel strayed its way to the sky. She told him the news of the village: those who perished, immigrants, married couples and newborns. She told him about the news of traders, sailors, and farmers in the field of eggplant and alfalfa. She told him about the collapse of the roof of wooden attic in the house of her neighbor's home Jaleelah Salih, the death of Abdo Hashem's cow, the last flood of the river and locusts' season, and the scandals of the village. Then she sang him his favorite song, as if she is lulling him before sleep. She revealed him the longing and the desire to follow him to heaven where he sits in peace and quiet, enjoying under the shade of the mythical trees, plying with his rifted feet in the rivers that have no upstream nor downstream, then she placed a bouquet of tulips and left quietly.

A week later, she returned and told him the news and told him the usual tales and sang him his warm song that he loves, and she cried as much as her longing allowed her to cry, and then when she wanted to replace her old tulips with new ones, she found it fresh as she left last time. She could not understand the feeling about these strange, but somehow she convinced that her husband carries the dignity of saints where he is in his perch, enjoying under the shade of mythical trees, plying with his rifted feet in the rivers that have no upstream nor downstream. Guessed that could be a sign, or a message he is trying to express it to her, so she started preparing herself to join him at any moment. She took her old flowers, and placed the other and left quietly.

She had been waiting for death with joy and quiet fear; so she keen to restore potteries to her neighbor and she gifted her her pampered cat and sold her antique silver jewelry to be able to meet her debts, and hired a carpenter to repair the wooden windows and the doors of her house, and she bought a shroud and putted it up the wardrobe, but she did not die throughout the week.

She began to lose faith in the assumed dignity of her husband. She made sure that the hallucinations of the bereaved lovers started inhabit into her pockets nasal, and the lane of her slow-hot veins. She returned to his grave, and started telling him the news of the village: the spread of plague, the migration of young people, Spinster girls and the expectations of a coming war. She complained to him about cunning of traders, baseness of sailors and horror of abandoned eggplant fields, and told him about the death of her pet cat with her neighbor, and the carpenter who did not work as he should and discovered of the falsehood of some jewelry, and then she sang him his favorite song, and when she wanted to replace the old tulips with new ones she found it fresh.

She was still wondering about the secret of survival of fresh tulips at every time, and the hidden message that her husband wanted to express it to, but she was unable to reach a final and definitive interpretation. But she returned convinced that her husband has an understandable dignity, and she was not concerned with what is going on at all.

That day –was not Sunday as usual- she found a young man; handsome and features kneeling at the grave of her husband, repeating some verses in reverence, and changing the crusty tulips with new ones, then she smiled because she knew the secret of the tulip, but she did not understand the secret of the relationship between him and the tomb and its owner, so she steps towards him gracefully:
- Did you know my husband, handsome?
- Your husband? But I am standing on the grave of my father.

He told her about the tomb owner, the farmer who was recruited by the government during the civil war, and tournaments that his colleagues used to tell him about, and the story of his martyrdom which shocked everybody. In return, she told him about the blacksmith who died of a horse kick, how they married couples of years after their secret story had been exposed, and his desire to have children that he stay dream of until he dead.

The most romantic thing was their partnership in the tulips and discovering the secret of staying fresh every time, while the most realistic thing in every what was said was their dispute on the owner of the tomb, as the young man insisted that the owner of the grave is his father, the martyr farmer, she old woman insisted that the tomb it belongs to sterile blacksmith which she remained loving him all her sixty-eight years and she said: "There is no tomb of a martyr without tombstone!"

They sat down to the village Sheikh who was unable to determine conclusively the identity of the tomb owner, and there was no one in both villages knew. They said: "All graves are similar, and their tombstones have no name or even dates of death!" Therefore, it gave his order to exhume the grave and dug out the dead to recognize him and they agreed digging the grave to be next morning.

In another place the young man was reclining on a sofa looks like a finishing boat thinking of what the morning could hide to him, as if he will see his father for the first time. How much we do not like to see the dead! No matter how much we love them, but we do not like to see them sleeping, their faces do not bear expressions that we loved. Guessed that it could be an appropriate opportunity for him to transfer of his martyr father's grave to where it should be. And he slept early that night.

That time the old woman sat on her rocking chair, wrapped with tens of reassuring and frightened concerns, focused her sight on a virtual spot in the hallway, as if recalling the spirit of her husband to ask him what to do. She guessed that she will miss something, whether he or someone else lying in the grave. She did not wonder where her husband would be if he was not the one she was telling him the stories and the news of the village and sang him his favorite songs, but she was thinking of something else not able to catch its flank completely.

By 9 o'clock at the morning everyone gathered in front of the tomb waiting for the Sheikh of the village who was coming with his penguin walk, carrying the Koran in a hand, and in the other a thick ebony baton. His features were not as usual, or so the old woman and the handsome young man thought. The Sheikh of the village looked at the faces of everyone in a closer look, as if questioning something he wants, before uttering a word the young man and the old lady step forward: "We do not want to exhume the body, so be who he is. Tomb exhuming is just like baring alive!" Everyone applauded, and departed. The young man did not stop visiting the grave every Friday and pray at his feet, and the old woman did not stop visiting the same grave every Monday telling him the news of the village sang him his favorite song and replaced the fresh tulips with another fresh ones.

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