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THE ARAB PRISON

I’ll reply with all sincerity, transparency and confidence.”

The interrogator said: “All I, and my boss, and his bosses want to know is what made you reject marriage and stay a bachelor.”

I asked in astonishment: “What has the state got to do with my sex life?”

He said: “You’re an educated citizen, not unaware that the state is keen to look after the interest of its citizens. It has to do so in order to protect the future of the nation. And the nation’s future is forged by its children, especially those of its good citizens, so it’s our duty to encourage good, politically aware citizens like you to get married and produce little boys and girls.”

I said: “I’m going to stay a bachelor. That’s a decision I’ve taken and I’m going to stick to it for life.”

The interrogator asked: “Why? We just want to know the reason.” I said: “I’m not going to give reasons.” He asked: “Have you had a love affair which ended in disaster?” I said: “No, I’ve never loved anyone, and no-one’s ever loved me.” The interrogator asked, smiling in wily delight: “Is it due to something you can’t divulge?”

I replied with my head held high: “If you’re trying to imply something about my manhood, you’re mistaken.”

The interrogator entreated: “My boss, and my boss’s boss, and my boss’s boss’s boss insist on knowing the reason.”

I said: “I won’t reply, and I’ll sent a letter of complaint directly to the National Security Council, because a human being is more important than oil.”

The interrogator’s face turned pale with fear and he said to me, faltering: “I wasn’t looking to create any more international crises. If my words made you feel uncomfortable, then I am ready to make you an apology, a practical apology.”

“What would your practical apology be?” I asked. He said: “I will make you the guest of the state for three days, and I assure you they will be three days crammed with joy and happiness.”

I said: “I agree to it in order to prove to you the extent of my love for the state and the national soil.”

The interrogator was as gladdened by my response as if he had led a successful military coup. He summoned policemen and gave them orders. They took me to a palace like those of the kings of leg-

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 137

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