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Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SHORT STORY: My Study - Part II

My Study - Part I
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

After dinner, Hamzah helped his mother in the kitchen washing the dishes, and Khaled and I sat in the living room watching the TV. Nothing was interesting. So to kill boredom, I challenged Khaled to solve a simple mathematical addition problem.

“I’ll be in my study. When you’re finished, meet me there!” I said and just as I entered the room, Khaled came running.

“I can’t solve this mathematical problem, dad” my son Khaled said. “Why?” I asked him. “I can’t add the unlikes” he answered. “Why not? I asked him. “Because math doesn’t allow us to do that” he said. “Who is that Mr. Math who allows and not allow?” I asked. “Mathematics, dad, numbers, additions and subtractions” Khaled said. “But math is not a sentient being to allow or otherwise” I said. “I know that, dad, but this thing called math has inherent rules and because of those rules we can’t add the unlikes” Khaled said, almost running out of his patience.“Who told you that? I asked. “Ms. Caroline, my school Math Teacher” he said. “I think you misunderstood her” I said. “No, dad, I didn’t. It is the rule and it is simple. Apples are essentially different from lemons” Khaled explained. “I’m sure they’re, but still you can mathematically add apples to lemons to tomatoes to potatoes without breaching Ms. Caroline’s mathematical rule” I said. “How can that be?” Khaled wondered. “You do it everyday. So does your mother” I said. “Ok, explain it to me” Khaled said ina challenging tone of voice. “That’s what I wanted to hear from you” I said, and looking him in the eye, I asked him, “How much was the population of Canada in 2006?” he said, “Approximately 26 million” I asked, “26 million what?” I asked.  “26 million people” he said. “Good! Are they entirely of the same ethnic race?” I asked. “Of course not! They’re from different races; European, Asian, Middle Eastern. African” he said. “Good! So we can say mathematically: 5 European + 3 Asian + 2 Middle Eastern + 2 African are equal to…” and awaited him to add up. He said “12 people”. I asked, “Why can’t we then mathematically add: 3 oranges + 2 lemons + 1 pear in the same way?” He argued, “Because these are not people, dad. They are unlikes” I said, “Yes they are likes” he asked, “How, for God sake?” Isaid, “They are, if you use the correct semantics, if you free yourself from the olden rules and semantically approach math from a different angle” I said. “How much is the total then?” he asked defiantly. “Simple. They are 6 pieces of fruit” Khaled’s mouth gaped. Linguistically, there is nothing wrong with the phrase, 6 pieces of fruits. The concept started to sink in Khaled’s mind. He hit himself on the side of his head. “Doesn’t your mother do the same when she prepares her grocery list, calling all the different items on the list groceries?” I asked. “Yes she does. What was the problem with me before? Why did I not notice that?” he asked, wondering. “The old concepts are so deeply rooted in our brain as they have been received through a process of brain-washing, though we call it education, and therefore we feel threatened when a new concept or approach arises to slam us in the face” I explained. “What to do then” Khaled asked. “Not to be scared, embrace the innovation and spend time studying it. If it is worthy of acceptance, then why not accept it. In our mathematical case, semantics is the major thing. If you marry it to mathematics, you open a door to infinity and become able to solve problems that seem unsolvable. When your mind is stuck in the traditional way which is not necessarily true all the times…oh, without language, mathematics is for birds” he said, “My God, in this way, I can add up the whole universe” I said, “Oh, hold your horses…not until you become able to grasp the concept of nothingness!” Khaled then asked, “What on earth is that, Dad? You’re full of surprises. How can you grasp what is not there? I asked, “Well, son, mathematics is a science full of wonders. Can you count up to 3?” Surprised by a question that seemed dummy, Khaled controlled himself as he knew I was not a dummy or mean person and then slowly counted,  “One, two, three” ─ “Wrong!” I said; the word came out of my mouth in a way that startled him. He looked at me with the severest signs of confusion on his face, but I said, putting an end to his torture, “You should have said, “Zero, one, two, three” Khaled interjected, “I never heard anyone counting from Zero” “Traditional! If nobody counts from Zero, It doesn’t mean, though, that Zero doesn’t exist. Isn’t it a number? Khaled argued, “Yes, it is, but it is a representation of nothingness which means it is nothing, therefore I did not count it” I said, “Nice argument! Nice Euclidian mathematics. The Greek thought of the Zero in the same way long time ago. To sense perceptions of foreground objects, the Greek tied numbers to bounded finite things. They did not think in terms of empty extended space. They thought in terms of shape and location. They concentrated on the observable, the small, the unvarying. And so they were stuck” Khaled asked, “And how to avoid that?” I said, “By becoming mathematically concerned with functional relationship. Thus our math becomes dynamic, not a whole punch of statistics. Discovery of Zero by the Hindus and the introduction thereof to the West by the Arabs has led to positional numbers, simpler arithmetic calculations, negative numbers, Algebra with symbolic notation, the idea of infinitesimals, infinity, fractions, and irrational numbers” I paused for a short while and then added, “Sound familiar, Khaled?” Khaled confirmed, “Mmmm, yes it does. But why did the Greek miss on the Zero’s potential for development” I explained, “Overzealous logical rigor, that is why. The Greek elevated logic to the highest intellectual status. That led to a crucial argument by the philosopher, Parmenides ─ Being only IS and nothing is altogether NOT. Hence, because non-being was impossible, change was impossible. To the Greek this is sound logic and therefore, they rejected both change and non-being” Khaled then asked curiously, “How did the Hindus and the Buddhists think of Zero, then?” I sais, “Well, for both of them, the notion of non-being was a state that they actively sought in their attempt to achieve Nirvana or oneness with the whole cosmos. None-being was something ─ a state that could be discussed.

Hamzah intruded on us and Khaled asked him, “Hamzah, can you count up to 3?” Hamzah answered, “Are you retarded or something, of course I can” Khaled said, “Count, then!”  Hamzah quickly counted, “One, two, three” Khaled and I said in one high-pitched voice,  “Wrong! You forgot the zero. It’s a number, too” ─ “Mother, can you count up to three?” Unbelieving his own ears, Hamzah yelled talking to his mother. “What!” my wife’s voice was heard coming from the kitchen. Hamzah asked her the same question again. Standing in the door of the study room wiping her arms with a towel, my wife, said, “What’s wrong with you people? One, two, three” we all laughed and said in one voice, “Wrong, you should say zero, one two, three” my wife’s lower jaw dropped.

“Khaled, since you succeeded in grasping the nothingness, could you round up 0.098 to its nearest whole number?” I said and then added, “Hamzah, help him out if you want” Both of them gave me two different answers, 0.01 was Khaled’s answer and 0.1 Hamzah’s answer. I shook my head and said, “You are still hesitant in accepting nothingness, otherwise your answer would have been Zero. I do not blame you. Even Euclid himself would have not been able to come up with the right answer. For him being only IS and nothing is altogether NOT.

Khaled and Hamzah stood up yawning and excused themselves to go to sleep. I asked both of them, “Are you bored?” Hamzah said, No, nothing can bore me” Khaled then laughed and said, “Oh, Hamzah, you just admitted that nothingness is something” I laughed and said, “boys, go to bed!”

The End

SHORT STORY: My Study- Part I

My Study - Part I
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

I was born in a house all walls of which were shelved; the study had book shelves, so did the bedrooms, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen and the bathrooms. And believe it or not, the pantry, too. When I was young, my favorite magazines were the Reader’s Digest and the National Geographic and my favorite subjects mythology, scriptures of any religion, fiction of any type, history and science. In fact, my father was a professor of comparative linguistics. Ah, I’ve forgotten to add to the list linguistics, too.

Being a book-worm was my choice. My parent never pushed me towards reading. I also never neglected  having fun with my friends every now and then; ganging up for attacking my grandfather’s vine ranch to steal grapes or my uncle’s cucumber field to steal cucumber.  Are-You-Afraid-Of-The-Dark story telling was my favorite. In a nut shell, I did not bury my face all the times in books. I had fun, too.But when I became an adult, the most important room in my house was ─ you guessed it ─ my study. It was the place where I could be the real me. It the place where I let my imagination run wild, or be with whom I choose to discus freely any topic.

Aand here, my two sons, Khaled and Hamzah, kick in.

Khaled wa 19 years old boy with an analytical mind. He won’t let things go before discerning them and retaing what is  worthy. But Hamzah, who wa 18, years old boy, though less analytical, he wa more daring, willing to take the risk, despite sometimes his calculations were based on nothing but gut-feelings and mostly stubbornness, his mother said he inherited it from me. I liked Khaled’s analytical ability though sometimes it reached a point of irritating zeal, especially when discussion was bi-lateral; a brother-to-brother, thus lacking my guidance that carefully steered them ashore through reasoning. I also liked Hamzah’s spontaneous ability and determination. Both, sometimes, came to me asking for a second opinion.  I would then analyze the case and in the process of we would embark on a journey to pinpoint the the flaws in their own conclusion. When the truth revealed itself, thanks to their desire for knowledge, their eyes would shined  and they became totally filled with content and happiness so contagious that I found myself included by force.

“Then, if that is the case, dad, how can I tell the difference between Destiny and Fate?” with eyes filled with interest, Khaled asked me. Resting my hands on the arms of my comfortable chair and leaning  backward, I paused for a while and deeply looked at Khaled’s curious face and said, “Son, destiny is an unchangeable constant; a record chiseled in stone, inescapable and its authorship propriety is solely owned by the writer. Son, the earth spins on its own axle and orbits the sun in total precision. That is destiny” Khaled then asked, “Couldn’t the unchangeable be, in the meantime, changeable, or in another word, could the unchangeable and changeable, constant and variable and running and stagnant fall together on the same one object?” .I could not resist my urge for teasing his intellect, so I smiled and asked him, “Have you heard of the moving-arrow case? It is a very ancient one”Khaled answered, “No, but I am all ears” I looked him and his brother in the eye for a while and said, “Well, If an arrow’s shot from point A to point and it reached point Z and stopped, and then if we divided the distance the arrow traveled into infinitesimal portions, wouldn’t the arrow, by force, be motionless at each infinitesimal portions?”Hamzah said, “That is right” but Khaled did not utter a word, so I went on saying, “But, on the other hand, if we add up the infinitesimal portions then their total will actually represent the arrow’s movement from point A to Point Z, hence I could say the arrow moved and at the same time I could also say the arrow did not move since at every infinitesimal portion it was motionless and by force the total of motionless portion is motionless” Thinking, Khaled was in deep state of silence for a while and then said, “In a different way, an analogy of what you have just said is a movie. The movie has motion; the totality of its single frames, but it is also motionless as if we add up the motionless single frames, we will have by force a total of frames which are motionless. Thus motion and motionless can both fall, at the same time, on the same object which is the movie” I said, “Maybe, what do you think?” Khaled then as though he has received a divine revelation, hit the side of his head with his open fist and burst out saying, “But, dad, we have been neglecting two important factors; the transition from one still frame to another and the occurrence of the alteration of the framesby the following frame. In fact, these factors are the movie integral glue that translates the movie into motion. Where by removal of the two factors, the frames will then be motionless portions of stagnant totality” Hamzah then jumped in and said, “Hence your arrow case analogy is a fallacy, dad. It is one of those deceitful things you throw at us when discussion is involving tough issues”I laughed but then inquired, “Why would I do that, Hamzah?” Hamzah said, “I guess, to forge our rhetoric abilities into the heat of logic” I challenged him saying, “Ok, Hamzah, use your Armour and block the following if you can”  He curiously looked at me. “Apply what I have explained on your own life. There are points or frames which are the outcome of recorded destiny and others which are the outcome of streams altered by the human choice, Let us snowball the points or frames’ totality into a lump! Wouldn’t the snowball substance contain both constant and variable?” Hamzah said, “Ummm, well, I guess, maybe, but I think if you explain fate, then we may be able to understand”  Khaled emphasized, “Yes, It will surely help” Isaid, “Fate is dynamic. It is changeable and its changeability is subject to our choice. Its infinite dynamics are yet controllable by factors such as laws of nature and our profound knowledge and awareness thereof” Khaled then asked, “You said fate is subject to choice. Could it also be subject to destiny?” I explained, “Definitely! Though fate is changeable, Destiny always prevails. In fact, both destiny and fate are integral parts and two sides of one and the same coin; life” Khaled wondered, “But some people say we can control the future if we write it” I said,  “Metaphorically speaking, yes, but in actual fact, we will have then to face a very important question which is: Can we dictate the future?” Khaled asked, “Can’t we?” I looked at Khaled for a whileHe’s still young, full of hopes and ambitions. So is his brother, Hamzah ─ I thought, remembering myself at the same age when I used to believe in categorical sayings the way they were until I found that there was a lot to learn, that the universe was full of puzzles that might take eons of human cycles to resolve. “Well, the three dimensions of time are: The past, the present and the future” I explained “We may be able to influence the future by mapping the present’s D.N.A. and by altering its Genomes in order to shape the future the way we like. But there’re a few difficulties. Mainly, the way the present is shaped is definitely caused by how the past had totally or partially been. Hence, for the future, which is the unborn child of the present, and the grandson of the past, to be altered, the past has to be re-written, hence the present, too. Also, alteration has to be based on overall knowledge and awareness of infinite probabilities housed by time and space; the former is still ambiguous and the later has not yet been totally explored” Khaled then persistently asked, “Can’t we alter the future to some degree?” I said, “To some degree, yes we can, because we are the whole of our self and the universe; time and space, Destiny and fate...remember the snow ball...but to become one day the masters of our destiny remains to be seen” I explained.

Interrupted by their mother’s announcement for dinner, Khaled and Hamzah stood up to leave. Khaled accidentally knocked his teacup off the coffee table. He apologized, but I asked him not to worry and before he disappeared with his brother in the living room, I yelled at him, “Khaled was that incident destiny, or fate?” He answered, “It was fate, dad. I could have been more careful” Hamzah then commented, “Yes, Khaled, if you were more careful, you would have had no impact on the streaming of the future events”

My wife’s voice softly hit my ears while I was still in my study, “Honey, are you having dinner with us?” I said, “Well, it depends” She wondered, “On what?” I said while emerging from my study and looking at my family sitting at the table, “On whether I’m hungry or not, the food is delicious or not, or if…oh, so many factors. Life isn’t only a matter of choice or a whole punch of personal decisions. Isn’t that right, boys?” I received no answer from them, but they both looked at me; eyes widely opened and mouths filled with food. I laughed and said, “When stomachs are empty and mouths busy chewing, minds will be absorbed in the chores at hand”

I then joined my family to enjoy a worm meal.

The End

SHORT STORY: The Greatest Common Denominator

The Greatest Common Denominator; a Societal, Mathematical Aspects

By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

It was a hot summer day. John, though carrying a heavy plastic bag full of library books and DVDs, had to walk all the way home because he couldn’t afford taking the bus. His pension was so small that after he has covered his monthly bills and paid for his medication, he ran out of money by the first week of the month. He was afflicted with a chronicle liver disease, and the water leakage from his scared liver into his abdominal cavity enormously distends his belly and made it difficult for him to breath or walk. His jaundiced eyes were sunken and circled with darker color. His skin looked clayish and clammy and on top of that, he felt drowsy most of the time because of his anti-depression medication. A look at John by those who did not know him would be deceptive. They would mistake him by a homeless or a druggie. 

John’s depression made him careless about his appearance.

In the park behind the library, John saw some people sitting to a picnic table while others clustered nearby and engaged in talking. He became curious, but his curiosity was elevated by the sight of the city’s newspaper crew in the midst of the crowd. He sat close to the scene to figure out what was happening. He heard someone saying, “I think it’s a great idea,”, and another one who quickly added, “This town is supposed to be filled with God-fearing people and all the politicians are supposed to be God-fearing, and nobody is doing anything about the homeless”, and another one who said, pointing to a mid-aged man, “This gentleman here,  God bless him, is a priest. He is doing the right thing. He is feeding the homeless. It is the right thing to do”

John saw two police cars parked next to the park’s fence and, on the other side of the street, he also saw a few people standing in the entrances of their business buildings, watching the people in the park. John then remembered reading in the newspaper a few days ago an article on this particular park and how it became a haven for homeless people, druggies and prostitutes. People wanted the police to interfere and stop a priest from feeding the homeless and the druggies, thus they would hum around no more But then where will they go? The problem is far more complicated and they are still a part of our society whether they made themselves or were made what they are by certain circumstances. They are the one sheep that went astray ─ John thought. An old man sat beside John and asked him what the matter. John told him about the homeless and the druggies. “Oh, those guys, they are scaring families away” the man carelessly said. “They do!” John exclaimed. “Yes they do and businesses around here are complaining, too” the old man said. “What is the solution should be like, then?” John asked, being curious that the old man might suggest a feasible solution. “I guess they have to stop them from coming to the park” the old man said. “Won’t this solution infringe their rights; their freedom to come to the park” frustrated, John asked him. “In a way, yes, but,” said the old man. “But what, they never bothered anyone. They may approach you for a cigarette, but if you say no, they just leave” John explained. “But they are undesirable for what they do” The man said. “We can’t jeopardize their right because we desire a different behavior from them, unless their right hurts other people’s right in the process” John interjected. “Are you sympathizing with them?” The man then asked. “No, I am not” John answered and then added, “Those people have a problem and they really need help. Any one of them can be your lost child. They are not criminals compared to heinous crimes committed on higher levels everyday and do slip by with no incriminating word uttered. The real evil-doers are the undesirables that need to be harshly dealt with; they are, in fact, the greatest common denominator” ─ “Oh, I agree with you. I do not know what is wrong with our society” the man said. John explained, “Well, in my mind, the society is either in deep slumber or it is collectively scared to locate the greatest common denominator factor and deal with it and because of their guilty conscious they had to find an escape-goat ─ and they have found it; the homeless, the prostitutes and the druggies; the least common denominator factor” the main said, “Since you have put it this way, I do not know what to say” John looked at his watch and then said, “Excuse me, I got to leave. Nice talking to you, anyways”

On his way home, John felt fatigue and out of breath. So he sat on the low brick fence of one of the houses on the street leading to his residence. A man accompanied by a huge dog emerged from the house and looked at him and angrily yelled, “Why are you sitting on my fence, you creep?” John apologized, “Sir, I am tired and I want to rest for a while. I hope you do not mind!” but still angry, the man yelled again, “Yes I do. Get the hell out of here, druggie!” ─ “Sir, please, don’t call me druggie. I am not” John protested. “Yes you are. Have you looked at yourself in a mirror lately?” the man still yelled. “I do everyday, sir. And everyday, I see my life slipping away from me because of my ailment” John answered. “Stop taking the shit you are taking” the man yelled again. “Sir, you do not understand. I take nothing but my prescribed medications. I told you I am sick” John explained. “Sick my ass; I do not want the likes of you hanging around here. Get lost or I’ll call the cops!” The man yelled. Having no alternative but to leave, John stood up, picked his bag and started to walk away but he was not quick enough, so the man pushed him. John fell to the ground. “God, I think I heart my back” John said to himself, feeling like throwing up, but the man shouted at him, “Don’t you dare throw up beside my fence, you piece of shit. Get up right now and get lost”

Lying flat on the ground in a state of agony, the events, that John saw taking place in the park behind the library, re-enacted before his mental eyes. He felt dizzy and as though coming from a distant place, he heard his own voice, “Sir, why are you so angry? I did not hurt you in any way. Sitting on your brick fence won’t hurt you. I am not a druggie or homeless. I am just a person with serious illness. I could have been you” and with eyes brimming with tears John strove to roll his body away as the contagious aggressiveness of the man made the dog threateningly bare his teeth, grunt and jump. John was sure he was doomed and before he fell unconscious because of the immortal pain he felt, he heard the sound of his ankle bone being crushed by the dog’s sharp teeth.

The End

Monday, September 14, 2015

SHORT STORY: Religiously Drunken

Religiously Drunken
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

We, Jackie Wu and his wife, Evelyn, and my wife and I were the last people to show up. It was a house of a considerable size, beautiful and almost new. In the large kitchen, the buffet table carried an abundance of food brought, as usually the case is, by the attendants. People were sitting everywhere, in the dining area, in the living room and the kitchen. The place was filled with the appetizing smell of food and wine and the presence of a priest who ceaselessly seemed to be engaged in conversation with everybody. The priest was in his early sixties with a shining smile which he made sure that everyone had a share of it as though it was the body of the Christ. We sat down and smiled at everybody. The Wu’s were familiar to them, but my wife and I were totally new. I surveyed the place with my eyes. On the far end of the buffet table I saw a big ice-box full of beer cans and next to it stood many wine bottles of different vintages. “God, I do not feel comfortable at all” I whispered to my wife after I had seen on the kitchen counter more alcohol stock stacked up as though everybody came over here but to drink. “Once we start eating and drinking, everything will be fine, just smile around for now” my wife whispered back to me, words hissing through her teeth.

This is exactly what I hated about my marriage; doing things against my own will. I did not have a weak character and I could refuse, but I had already enough on my plate, hence I tried to avoid evoking new arguments. Our acquaintance with the Wu’s was one of the things forced on me by both my wife’s haste which was one of many of her bad traits, and my deep love to my eldest son, Khaled. One day, Khaled came back from the school with a letter from the family of his friend Newman stating that Newman liked Khaled and wanted to visit with him and be with him more often. Newman’s family, the Wu’s, were excited as their son who was too shy to mingle with other kids found someone to befriend, and pleaded to us, Khaled’s family, to give their son a chance. Unaware that I was going to be overcrowded in my life, I agreed thinking that it was only the kids who would exchange visits not the whole family. I am a social person, nevertheless, I do not like my personal space be preached. I did not want to have any deepened familial relation with the Wu’s but, at the same time, I did not want to become a hindrance in the boys’ friendship. My wife’s careless openness has always been a spoke in the spine of my plans.

I did not hate the Wu’s, but I did not like them either. Jackie was an easy going, laid back husband who owned Chinese restaurant but had to abandon the food business for some reasons and since then has not been working. Evelyn did accounting works. She was married to a man who owned carpet cleaning business but died of a liver disease leaving her with a child who was a bit slow. She then married Jackie, a Chinese man and had three kids from him; Jamey, Newman and Cameron. I never liked Jamey and his mother. I felt, though time proved me right, that Evelyn was the kind of a woman who would dig and poke her nose into people’s affair in the guise of offering friendly advice. Jamey, who was the oldest, was manipulative and aggressive, and had a bad reputation and troubles at school. One day, Jamey caused Hamzah, my youngest son, to fall on the ground and then pulled him by his leg. I was very angry and declared that Jamey was not allowed to visit or mix up with my boys since the whole issue from the start was supposed to be friendship between Khaled and Newman only, not the whole members of the family.

At the time, I was having troubles with my wife and her parents. In fact, the troubles between me and my in-laws started long time ago and never abated. They never accepted my marriage to their daughter basing their rejection on three reasons reeking with racism: 1. I’m not Christian, 2. I’m from a third world country and 3. They thought I was black ─ If you marry this man, the kids you get from him will be born with wretched souls  My wife’s mother said one day to my wife to discourage her from marrying me,And when you return to Canada, the kids being born black will find difficulties mixing up with their roommates at school When I heard this, I realized that my mother-in-law was badly sick in her head. Khaled was born with white skin, blue eyes, blond hair, so was his brother, Hamzah who followed him a year later. “I guess your mother will be miserable, now” I said to my wife. “Why?” my wife asked. “The kids are born with physical features opposite to what she expected” I said. “How could they be otherwise when you’re not black yourself and your eyes are green” my wife answered. Why on earth did my mother in-law think I was black? ─ I asked myself ─ could it be because I am African. But I am from Upper Egypt and upper Egyptians are Mediterranean like Italians and Greeks. And suppose I was black, why should be there something wrong with it? ─ Well, After my immigration to Canada and when I took my boys to school, I found other boys and girls to be of different ethnicities and they all played together and laughed together in the school playground during the recess. “I guess the kids at school are color blind” I told my wife one day. “What do you mean?” puzzled, my wife asked me while preparing dinner in the kitchen. “Well, although I hate it, I can understand the religious rivalry, but racism is something I never understood. The kids are definitely void of racism, because they’re color blind. They all play with each other at school and even sometimes have fights motivated by anything other than racism” I explained. “Of course! It is we, the adults, who teach them racism” my wife said. “Then your parents are the most ignorant” I said. With tears rolling down her cheeks, my wife came out of the kitchen holding a knife in her hand and said, “I know that”, and then put the knife down on the kitchen counter, wiped off her tears and added, “They haven’t been to the church for over three decades, nevertheless they were still worried about your faith. They did not come from fantastic families in Scotland and Holland; nevertheless they still worried about your place of origin" Isaid, “I wish I can say to them that my forefathers build the pyramids thousands of years ago while theirs were still roaming the forests and the plains” and then added, “On top of that, does your mother know that it has been proven scientifically that we all came from the Southern African bushman tribes whose skin color is dark”

It is said that a mill-stone, though big and powerful, will eventually break. The ceaseless wedges that my in-laws relentlessly put between my wife and I, attained success mainly when the circumstances helped their seed of destruction germinate. I had Hepatitis-C. It lay dormant in my blood and kicked in at the most inconvenient moment. Depression, Fatigue, inability to work and my in-laws warring caused arguments to arise between my wife and I. This is when Evelyn interfered offering her help. “I know of a counseling group headed by a priest. They gather together, not in the church, but in one of the client’s houses” said Evelyn to my wife. “When does it happen?” excited, my wife asked. “It happens twice a month and next time will be the first day of next week” Evelyn answered. “And what do they do during the meeting?” my wife asked. “We eat and drink and discuss our problems and afterwards, the priest arrange for three-day accommodation in a nice hotel where the troubled couple stay and work out a solution”

When my wife told me about this counseling event, I was skeptical at first but finally I decided to let her go through this experience. On Monday the Wu’s picked us and we all went there.

My wife was right when she whispered back to me that once we started eating and drinking, everything would be fine. Wine can be a good ice-breaker for people to start a conversation, but if they don’t hold the reins of their wine horses tight, the horses will run out of control and then the riders will find themselves breaking the thin ice on which they’re running, thus ending up being drowned. A humming voice emitting from the house as though there were many bee-hives drowned the silence of the night as Everybody was talking; everybody was smiling; everybody was shaking; everybody was drunk save for a few who still talked with untwisted tongues. I was one of them. “Let me introduce you to father Jackson, the priest” Evelyn said, holding a glass of rosé in her hand and swaying like a tree branch, “Hi, father, this is Mr. and Mrs. Al-Mahdy” Father Jackson has not yet been drunken but rather tipsy. He might have chosen not to be drunk in order to be able to attend his flock.  “Ah, hi, how’re you?” said the priest, “Where’re you from” the priest asked. “He’s from Saudi Arabia, father” Evelyn said, budging in. “I’m not from Saudi Arabia. I’m from Egypt” I objected. “Who cares, Saudi Arabia or Egypt, they’re all the same” Evelyn said, almost falling down. Her husband helped her sit on a chair. “I do. And Saudi Arabia and Egypt aren’t the same, unless you think Italy and France are” I said, my voice showing that I was upset. “You do not have to be upset. It is not of a big deal” the priest said. “I know, Mr. Jackson, but I like people to know me for what I am” I firmly said. “Oh, you’re right, you’re right” the priest said, trying to avoid getting into argument. When the party was over, I asked Evelyn husband to give my wife a ride home as I was going to stay behind and help in washing the dishes and cleaning the place.

Khaled and Newman became very good friends. They spent lots of time after school with each other and Cameron, Newman’s youngest brother. They all formed a block against Jamey whom they called jackass.

One day, my wife told me that Evelyn told her that when she had a bath, she would step out of the bathroom totally naked not minding the kids would see her. I wondered why Evelyn told my wife about this personal behavior and why my wife told me. Is it the so called hearsay natural cycle, or Evelyn is trying to impress my wife with her liberal life style. I also wondered if my wife got the message and therefore told me so that I would loosen up a bit. In any case, I did not like the whole issue at all. Being a new immigrant who has not yet known much of the Canadian customs and traditions, I was confused.

I discussed the matter with a born-Canadian friend of mine. He told me that the Canadian customs in no way would allow for such behavior which he thought was child abuse that must be reported to the authorities. “I thought so, too. It doesn’t matter whether you came from the East or the West, there’re universal standard of behavior” I told my friend. “Why didn’t you report the incident to the authorities, then?” he asked. “I could not because my wife would be upset and I did not want to have more troubles than it was” I answered. He then asked me to give him the names, address and details and and said he would report the incident himself without getting my name involved. A week later, when I went to pick up my two sons from the school, I saw Newman sitting in the corridor. I asked him if he wanted a ride home. He uttered no single word but looked at me with eyes full of animosity. I told my wife about Newman’s attitude. She said that someone reported his mother to the authorities regarding her nudity in front the children and since then she has been in troubles. I told my wife that I mentioned the story to a friend of mine and he must have reported her.

My in-law’s relentless middling and back-stabbing never ceased, so never did Evelyn’s since she has opened fire at me shortly after that incident. Defending my family on two fronts; my in-laws’ and Evelyn’s, and seeing my health deteriorating, I had to lick my wounds and convince my wife to move to a different city. Thus I was left fighting only one war. That is racism, oh, I mean my in-laws.

The End

SHORT STORY: Religiously fat

Religiously Fat
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

My friend and I were separated from our wives. His wife kicked him out of the house and wasted no time to have a relation with his best friend. He approached me one day saying that there was a church where a priest and his wife hold meetings once a week for counseling couples with marital problems. He suggested that we could go there for help. I was skeptical and told him that I haven’t never been to a church. He said he has not been either and that we should go since the counselingwas free. I was still hesitant. My problem was far more complicated. He said he knew I did not have a care, so he offered to give me a left. The next day we went to the designated church. In a big room there were many people, women and men and on a small buffet table, there were coffee, tee, cakes and a variety of pastries mostly brought in by attendants. We sate somewhere. Scanning the room with my eyes, I caught sight of him, and I moved my eyes no further.  

His mouth looked like a little hole separated from his small nose by a well-groomed, well-waxed, yellow mustache whose ends were so carefully twined and perfectly curved upward. His eyes were pasture-like green and perfectly arching eyebrows well-trimmed. His face was shaven and blood almost jumped out of his round cheeks. He was a man of short stature and with abdominal bulge that was prominent and tightly round. Whenever he wanted to pick a sweet ball, his short hands and stumpy fingers had to maneuver in such a manner more precisely calculated than the movements of a geisha dancer. With all dignity, his big rear-end filled a chair next to the buffet. His shining pair of black shoes bespoke of the smallness of his feet, and the bold spot on his head and the relaxed look on his face made him look like Bacchus, the Greek God, or a happy Buddha. He stole a look at the attendants and while everybody was busy he hesitantly but nimbly picked a sweet ball and threw it in his little mouth. I started to wonder who he was. “He is the priest and Catherine’s husband” as though he divined my thoughts, my friend whispered to me. “Who is Catherine?” I whispered back to him. He pointed to a woman sitting in the far corner of the room talking to a man who had an aura of a flamboyant and whispered again, “She is the counselor who will talk to us after we all have settled”

Catherine was in her late-forties, a few years younger than her husband. She was every thing her husband was not; slim and beautiful. She also wore a broad smile, but her smile failed to conceal from the expert eye her latent misery. I failed to resist an urge for stealing a peek again at her husband. While I was looking at him, I wondered when the last time he copulated with his wife was. I shook my head to brush the thought off my mind but it was soon occupied by the image of my high school geography teacher whom we; my classmates and I, named Mr. Plateau as he was really a very big man. We all wondered how such a mound would be able to mount his wife , “He has to lie on his back and copulate with her in an astride position” ” Zachary suggested during the recess. Thomas was skeptical, but Zachary then said, handing a marijuana joint to Nathaniel, “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. I see it all the time on the internet. Don’t you people have computers at home? There’re all kinds of porno” Zachary sucked deeply on the marijuana roach given back to him and then continued, “Fat people, big boobs, black, Asian, interracial, and gay; transsexuals, and lesbians, and if you are a real pervert interested in bestiality…” Nathaniel interrupted warning him, “Shushush, Jessica is coming, Zachary” Zachary shrugged and sucked deeply on the joint then kept the inhaled smoke in his lungs for a second before releasing it and then said, “So what, she is a slut. I bet you if you give her twenty dollars, she’ll give you a blow job” Jonathan interjected, “I won’t let her even for free. She is a filthy whore” Zachary laughed and then left, but Jessica, who caught sight of him, yelled, “Hey, Zac. Devils away, eh” ─ Zachary, who did not even care to turn and look at her, said, “You are an angel, Jessie” then bent over slightly and slammed his own butt with both hands and added, “Give me a freaking break!”

Others were still wondering that the teacher had to be extremely well-endowed in order to be able to intercourse his wife. Jessica wondered what we were talking about, but we all shut her up and asked her to get lost. As soon as Jessica left, I said, “May be the poor man is sexually deprived. May be he never had sex with her” They all then looked at me asking for an explanation. “I just can not imagine that he is able to intercourse his wife. It just does not sit well in my mind” I said. “Why?” Peter asked. “Well, I have watched one day on the TV a documentary on elephants in must”, then paused looking in their faces and continued, “I saw a young elephant mounting a female elephant and despite he tried all what he could, his enormous organ failed to access her vagina though her external vaginal lips were so large and thick and hanging down” I said. “What a looser” Peter said, “Her labia were an easy navigable canal for his river barrage to follow a mating course, but still he failed to steer!”
I said, laughing at his description, “That is right, but out of frustration, the female shook him off her and ran away screaming for another older and more experienced male” Everybody burst out laughing, too, and punning on his navigation concept, peter said, “This young elephant has not definitely been aboard before this one time”

I looked at the priest again and then a thought crossed my mind. The pleasure he obtained from throwing the sweet balls into his mouth was one side of a coin the other side of which was the misery shown on his wife’s face; a coin called sexless marriage. Unconsciously, I got a loony out of my pocket and flipped it in the air a couple of times and then but abruptly I stood up to leave. “We haven't talked to Catherine yet” said my surprised friend. Holding the loony between my fore and middle fingers and waving it before his face, I said, “No need my friend. My coin is too rusty to be polished. So I have decided to toss it into the ocean” ─ Puzzled, my friend’s mouth gaped.

On exiting the church, my eyes caught sight of the donation box. I looked at it for a while and then smiled slipping the loony into it, totally aware, though, that I'll have to walk all the way home as I became unable financially to take the bus.

The End


Macho Man
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

Steve was very tired and trying hard to sleep. He worked late last night, trying to supplement his humble disability income by editing movies of birthdays, weddings, safaris and other occasion. But while he was sleeping on the sofa in the living room after long hours of work, Tim, his roommate, had a loud chat with his native girlfriend and her son in the dining room, paying no heed to him as though he did not exist.

“Guys, could you please lower your voices? I am trying to sleep” Steve pleaded. “It is day time now” Tim said; his voice coarse and arrogant ─ What did the son of a bitch mean? So what, it is a day time ─ Steve thought doesn’t a man have the right to sleep whenever he wants? Shouldn’t room-mates care and respect each personal  circumstances. “You son of a coward, are you trying to show off in front of your girlfriend. You, bastard, get out of my face right now or I’ll kill you” yelling, Steve jumped off the sofa forgetting that he was naked, grabbed the computer’s chair and threw it at Tim. Shocked, Tim tucked his tail between his legs and left along with his company. 

Tim and Steve lived together sharing one-bedroom apartment. Knowing that Tim was a womanizer, Steve let him stay in the bed room to have privacy as Steve did not want to be embarrassed by seeing Tim having sex with one of his whores had Tim been living in the living room. Steve made it clear to Tim that the living room was also a private area though it was open to the rest of the apartment.

A couple of hours later the police knocked on the Steve’s door their main concern was Steve’s threat-to-kill, but as soon as Steve explained the situation to them and how edgy he was because of his lack of sleep, they realized that the threat was just hot-air. “Well, he’s scared to come back. Will you let him sleep in his bed, tonight” the female officer asked. “By all means, he pays rent, too, and please ask him to watch out for his sharp tongue and show some respect” Steve pleaded.

Steve met Tim and a pregnant girl named Beverly, her kids and a cat named Obie at the apartment of Joseph, Tim’s half brother. Tim was hiding from the police as he was a key-witness in an assault involving drug dealers and the pregnant girl from her husband who was a member of the dealers. Joseph hosted them for as long as the visitation rules allowed and then asked them to leave. Beverly and her kids did but Tim had nowhere to go. Tim and Joseph had a big argument and Joseph had to call the police to force Tim to leave. Steve happened to be around during the argument. He did not like one bit of it and out of the goodness of his heart, he asked Tim to stay with him.

“Tell me what your secret is, Steve. I can not believe you’re still living with each other” Joseph asked Steve one day. “Why not, Joe, people should help each other out” Steve said. “Yes, but Tim is a druggie and troubles. We lived together before but we ended up being evicted because of the drugs?” Joseph said. “Have you ever asked him to stop?” Steve asked. “I have, but he did not care. Man, his wife left him because of the drugs?” Joseph said. “Well, he has not had any drugs in my apartment so far. I made it clear for him that having no drugs was a proviso for him to stay” Steve said.  “I do not know what to say but time will tell, my friend” Joseph said.

Days passed by and the nasty corps of Tim’s personality revealed itself a bit everyday. He did not look for a job under the pretext that he was depressed; however in the meantime, he spent hours on the computer chatting on MSN Messenger with girls and surfing porno and dating sites, using Steve’s internet.

Tim was an electrician, and one day, a friend of his called from Vancouver to help him design marijuana growing electric system that won’t attract the electricity company, hence the police. Promising to be back in a couple of days, Tim left for Vancouver, leaving Obie, his cat behind. A week passed and Tim did not return, so Steve had to call him and tell him that he ran out of Obie’s food and if he did not show up in two days, he’d call the animal shelter people to come and pick up the cat. Five days later, Tim returned. Two days later after Tim’s return from Vancouver, Steve received a notice from the building manager stating that his guest had to leave as his allowed stay had expired. Steve asked Tim to pack up and leave. Tim didn’t and Steve ended up receiving an eviction notice. Tim told Steve that he new of a place where they could share the rent. Steve was skeptical at the beginning, but thinking of becoming able to save few hundred dollars every month, he was tempted. “Well, Tim you have to promise me to change your attitude as this time you won’t be my guest anymore and I won’t be obliged to serve you” Steve said. “Definitely, my friend, and I’m going to start hunting for a job, too” Tim said. “Good and there are certain rules we both have to observe” Steve said. “Like what? I am curious” Tim asked “I’ll jot them down on a piece of paper and give it to you later” Steve said.

Steve packed up his belongings and on the moving day, Tim pretended to be badly constipated to avoid helping Steve with the so many boxes he had, though on the same day he had a date with one of the girls he knew over the internet and his alleged constipation did not prevent him from seeing her. “Hey Steve, I’m going to see this girl today. Wish me luck! I haven’t got laid since I divorced my wife” Tim said, moving his groin area in a pretend thrusting movement. Steve made no comments and resumed moving the boxes. His friend Henry who had a truck helped him make the move though he was sick.

During the first week in the new apartment, Steve had a verbal fight with Tim. Time gave Steve’s cell-phone’s number to all the whores he relation with and the phone never stopped ringing. Finally Tim purchased a pay-as-you-go cell phone and the problem was solved. Two month later, Tim’s friend, Chris, showed up and the beads strung on the thread of time moved; each one smeared with Tim and Chris’ action that turned Steve’s life into a nightmare.

Chris is a muscular man in his late thirties, but from the way he talked, Steve sensed a lack of education as well as a lack of the main ingredient that made a man a gentleman; honesty. He seemed to have the character of a weasel. Chris and Tim used to go out every day for an hour or two and come back, eat the food which Steve prepared for supper, drink Steve’s juice and spend the rest of the day on the internet in Tim’s room. Though upset, Steve did not complain as Chris was still within the period during which he was still a guest. Days later, parcels reached the apartment in the name of people who did not live there. Steve became suspicious and started digging. Steve found out that Tim and Chris, during the time they spent outside, collected credit card receipts from garbage pins of big stores and used the card numbers in purchasing things on-line not heeding that they used his internet IP address in the process, thus making him a member in their fraud activities. He also found out that Chris was a fugitive wanted by the police for assault charges. “Tim, why are you doing this fraud?” Steve asked Tim. “Credit card companies are damn rich and monstrous. They can absorb the loss” Tim answered. “But, isn’t this robbing; theft?” I wondered. “Nop, they’re the ones who rob us. Look at the interest they charge you. Look at their diabolic ways for making money” Tim explained. “I agree with you, Tim. I myself think the credit cards are the weapons of the devil on which the whole economical system has been built  , but still I cannot place the total blame on them because their clients consented by signing a contract. Responsibility here goes both ways”

Steve knew that his words were falling on deaf ears. So he came to the point which is the usage of his internet for illegal activities. “Well, I don’t like it that you’re using my second IP address in your fraud operation, Tim” Steve objected. “We’re not. Chris has already ordered for the internet and phone to be supplied in my room” Tim explained. “When did that happen and under whose name?” Steve asked. “Last week and everything is in Chris’ name” Tim said. “But Chris does not live here, Tim. This is still illegal” Steve said. “Oh, don’t fret about it. He’s moving to an apartment in the building pretty soon and will get everything with him. I am thinking of moving with him, too, so I’ll get out of your hair”

Steve was extremely angry. Now he remembered what Joseph, Tim’s half brother said about Tim. “Ok, your friend still has a few days left. If he overstays his visit, I’ll call the police” Steve said. “But he’s staying in my room!” Tim said sounding a bit upset. “I do not give a damn to the details. And I am not going to waste my time explaining the rental law to you. Your friend is a con-artist and a fugitive, and I have been patient so far, but I am not going to let myself be burnt by the sparks of your activities”

One of the scammed items that reached the apartment was a three-grand 42” LCD TV. Chris wanted to sell it right away as he badly needed the money. He asked Steve if he knew someone to buy the TV for half the price. Steve was hesitant at the beginning but finally seeing the window of opportunity to get back at him and Tim, he agreed to let a friend of his buy it. “Henry, I checked the price of the TV on the internet. It is a three-grand TV but I am going to let you get it for have of the price Chris suggested” Steve said. “Which is how much?” Henry asked. “Half of 15 hundreds” Steve said. “That is 750. But how are you going to do that?” Henry asked. “Well, Chris wants 15 hundreds” Steve explained, “I want you to pay him right now through me 750 and promise to pay the balance in a few days. What happen after that, leave it to beaver!”

Steve’s friend agreed and on the same day Henry paid Chris 750  through Steve who promised Chris that the balance would be paid in a few days. Chris agreed. Two days later Steve kicked Chris out of the apartment, saying that Chris over stayed the allowed guest-stay. Chris left peacefully as Steve still owed him money and also he was scared that Steve might call the police if he refused. A few days later Chris showed up with a woman at Steve’s apartment, asking for his money. “What money are you talking about, Chris?” Steve asked. “The money you owe me for the TV” Chris answered. “Ah, the scammed TV. Well, as a matter of fact, I owe you nothing” Steve said. “Yes, you owe me 750” Chris answered angrily. “Ah, the 750. In fact, I am keeping this money as a payment for food and board and all the service you received during your stay” Steve said. “Look at this guy. He is trying to con me” Chris said, talking to the woman, “He’s trying to rob me of my money“ The woman said, “The TV is mine and I want that money” Chris said, “If he doesn’t pay that money, I’m calling the police” ─  “A con coning a con, Chris. Isn’t that funny” Ignoring the woman’s threat, Steve said and laughed wholeheartedly. “I expected this to happen and that’s why I talked to the police before I came. They will be here any moment” Chris warned. “Well, I am waiting. Don’t leave and stay put. If you set one foot inside the apartment, I’ll break your leg” Steve said. “If you don’t pay me my money right now, I’ll torch your face and this apartment” Chris yelled, realizing that his trick did not work. Picking up his cell phone, Steve said, “Well, do that if you can, Chris. In the meantime, I am calling the police”

Chris and the woman ran away like a rabbit hounded by dogs. On their way out, Chris intentionally broke the fire-alarm glass and pulled the lever. Steve called the Fire Department and told them that the alarm was an accident and then called the police and reported Chris’ threat. A couple of weeks later, Steve heard that Chris was arrested in Burnaby and thrown in jail for an old charge of threat-to-kill with deadly weapon. On the same day, Steve talked to the building manager and told him about Chris and Tim and about his desire to move in bachelor suite. In the meantime, Time met this hybrid native woman (half native, half European) on one of the internet dating sites. She had two boys from a previous husband who, as per her account, was abusive. She lived in a two-bedroom apartment with her current husband. Steve knew later that Beth, Tim’s native girl friend, had an agreement with her husband that she could do what she liked and he could do the same. “I though after your divorce, Tim, you were going to look for unattached woman and start a new life. This sugar-cane of yours is not going to cut it” Steve told Tim one day.  “Why do you think so?” Tim asked. “On one hand, she is already married. On the other hand, she is not beautiful. She has a fake eye, and you told me she lost her ovaries long time ago as she had ovary cancer. She is barren and you won’t be able to have kids with her” Steve explained. “But, I love her and she’s going to leave her husband” Tim said. “Great! But I do not think you love her, Tim. I think you’re addicted to sex. Do you remember the woman you knew in Langley?” I said. “What about her?” Tim asked. “She had a venereal disease, and you still had sex with her”

A month later, Tim’s check for his rent share bounced and a few days later, the building manager told Steve if Tim failed to pay his share of the rent then he’d have to come up with the money because the two of them signed one lease. Steve told the manager that he had already paid his share and he would pay Tim’s share if Tim was evicted. The manger said he couldn’t evict Tim alone and if payment was not made in a few days, he’d have to evict both of them. Tim did not pay the rent and Steve handed a notice for terminating his tenancy contract. By the end of the month, Tim left to live with his girl friend, her husband and children. He did not pay the rent or repair the damage he made to his room, leaving Steve stuck with everything.

The End

Saturday, September 12, 2015


The Train
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

Thoughts chased each other so fast in his mind ─ Goddamn those customs and traditions. They are nothing but a rotten yield of unhealthy past; arrogance and pride. Goddamn the corrupt upbringing of my brother Ghayeth. He has turned my life into misery. He lived the silky side of life; a womanizer until he was shot-dead. Blood-feud has now become unavoidable. Ah, blood-feud; a feeling that keeps wavering back and forth in the chest of an Upper-Egyptian and never rests until revenge is attained no matter how many years have lapsed and generations been born. 

Here it is; a letter from his father instructing me to immediately come home whatever the circumstances are to carry out his duty. He is the eldest son, therefore, he must seek revenge for his brother’ death. Thus, the perverted customs dictate, or else he will live in eternal shame.

He held his head in his hands and squeezed on his temples to stop his mind from thinking, but his efforts doomed to failure ─ Hasn’t my brother gotten what he deserved? I have frequently warned him not to bother Rashidah, the daughter of Abu-Swailam, but he did not listen. He would not lust after nobody else but her. And my father, yes, whenever my brother’s erotic adventures tickled his hearing, he would, eh, damn, Gayeth was the youngest and my father’s favorite son. Honest to God, I found nothing in Gayeth but moral depravity, dissolution, and obtuseness. But my father always discriminated between boys and girls. Girls were the family’s untouchable pride and honor, and there would be no harm if boys matured a bit earlier. My brother matured earlier all right. And Hamdan, Rishidah’s husband, lay in wait in a sugar-cane field and shot Gayeth then went home and killed his wife. For giving me a chance to avenge my brother’s death, the police had been intentionally misled. They never knew who the killer was though I knew while I was still Cairo Now, obliged to perform a cultural duty, here he is in Cairo train station waiting for the train that goes to Upper-Egypt.

No one will mistaken the station by anything else; the baskets, the boxes, the luggage; all scattered around in indescribable chaos and the very long train that arrives in after it has traveled a very long distance to finally stop gasping for breathes and blow its horn; a complaint of injustice done to it by the sons of Adam and Eve whom it boards in its abdominal cavity and carries on its back along with their luggage.

He turned his face away to distract his mind by a different view as his thoughts were nothing but a torture. The cold drink vendors filled the station with their voices and their knocking on the bottles by metal openers. A family sat on the Train-Track curb having their dinner while their belongings heaped up beside them. On his left hand, his eyes caught a rich man with a big turban on his head. He had a shining soft face and on his chest a long catena glittered. Attached to a leather wallet pregnant with banknotes, the other end of the chain hid in the left side of his chest causing a bulge. He smiled as he saw, close to the rich man, who seemed to have just sold his cotton crop, two pick-pockets planning how to hunt this fat goose and how to severe his wallet’s metallic umbilical cord. A man sat reclining to his basket; his bare feet hanging down the train track. He snored so loudly that his waxed and twined ends of his mustache wiggled rhythmically. Beside him, an eighteen-year old lad, wearing his lined Upper-Egyptian traditional garb, stood holding a thick club in his hand as if he were a watch-dog on duty. People were hither and thither; men and women, sitting or standing, or snoozing.

He managed to walk through the crowd searching for a remote empty seat but his mind was still roaming ─ Damn you Gayeth! And vengeance, too! And damn the law! It does not quench the thirst. So full of loops the criminal law is that a second-year law student can manipulate it as easily as a sharp knife cutting through a bar of butter. But families exaggerate their vengeance. Thus killing begets nothing but killing; a vicious circle. Hasn’t Gayeth gotten what he deserves for lusting after Rashidah and hurting her husband’s honor? ─ His eyes caught sight of a bench and a man sitting on it by himself. He sat a bit far from him. Tears rolling down the man’s cheeks moved his curiosity. The man was weeping. He wondered if the man was burdened by blood-feud, too. The man seemed to be in his thirties; hansoms in spite of signs showing his strive and struggle with life. “Why is he crying? He whispered to himself as the man's moaning has almost burnt his face. The man was looking at him with eyes full of misery  "Does he want to talk to me? Come on, open up, brother. Birds of a feather flock together” he whispered to himself again. 

“Doubt, It is doubt, sir, which made me loose my mind” The man said as if he has read his thought. “What are you talking about? What doubt are you talking about?” He asked.  “The severest kind. Let me tell you something that happened to me” the man said and then after a short pause, he whispered, “I have to tell someone. Let it be you, sir. Do you think my kids are mine or Afifi’s? Please, let me tell you my story of doubts, my wife’s cheating with my closest friend. God, what a whirl causing my head to spin! Will you hear me out, sir? What! Did you say you will? Thank you”. But suddenly, the crowd’s noise grew louder and people started to move in every direction. The Upper-Egyptian train has arrived; smokes coming out of its chimney in hot and quick blasts like breaths coming out of a wounded beast and steam clouds were breathed out on both sides of the locomotive engine thus filling the place with thick fogs. Squeaking and screeching heightened as the enormous piston-rod stopped slamming the wheels. Compartments slightly ran into each other, and then the train came to a full stop, panting like a buffalo chased by a predator on a hot summer day.

Swallowed up in the crowd, he found him self fighting his way through like a worrier in one of the ancient battles. Finally, he sat on a window seat. Baskets and luggage were flung in and out. A piece of luggage hit his nose. “Oh, God, it is so painful” he whispered, his eyes shining with tears. A man with a sarcastic smile on his face looked at him while he was shaking the dust off of his cloth. Unconsciously, his hand plunged into his pocket searching for the train ticket. The noise abated as the station became devoid of people save for the cold-drink vendors. He looked out the window. There on the bench, he was still sitting; misery depicted on his face. His mind roamed again ─ I almost forgot him. What a cheating wife; women in Cairo and Upper Egypt. Are they all Rahshidah? Oh, no, of course not. It is men, too. Damn you, Gayeth! Damn you Afifi! Hamdan should not be blamed for doubting his relation to his kids. Do I still have to kill him because of a whole bunch of old customs and traditions? Damn!

The train’s engineer blew the horn. It wailed like a loving mother who lost her child. He looked at him again. He was still there, his eyes were so sad No, no! I will not kill you, Hamdan. Let someone else do it. Not me ─ he thought and then jumped to his feet; a muffled scream coming out of his mouth. People looked suspiciously at him.

The train started to move leaving behind black clouds of smoke. On the other side of the train track, he found himself standing watching the train’s departure. And before leaving the station, he looked again across the track but he found the bench empty.

The End