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Sweat streamed down her forehead. She said nothing so I said to her, pointing towards the door: “What can I do with a woman who knows nothing about the Battle of the Masts?”

She left, head bowed.

And grand Abdullah continued: No sooner had I described how I had sent the beautiful French actress away than the men of the neighbourhood shouted at me in both astonishment and fury. One of them asked: “Didn’t you regret doing that, after she left?”

I said: “Regret it? I never regret anything, but I felt I was taking revenge on behalf of all the Arab countries France had occupied.”

Another asked: “Did you managed to sleep after you’d sent her away?”

I said: “I slept deeply and didn’t wake until the end of my stay.” Yet another asked: “What? Did you swallow a sleeping pill?” I said: “No, but the police gave me an official address about justice, freedom and equality, so I was able to sleep deeply for a long time.”

Then grand Abdullah said: Suddenly, I noticed the people of my neighbourhood whispering among themselves, so I asked them: “What’s the matter with you all?” One of them asked: “So, in prison they give you free food on demand?”

I said: “That’s right.” Another man asked: “And sleeping there is free too?” I said: “That’s right.” A third asked: “And they laid on a dancer and an actress for you in the evening?”

I said: “And when I woke from my sleep they sent the most beautiful Arab actress you’ll ever see to give me my breakfast.”

Immediately, the men of the neighbourhood ran off towards the police stations and prisons, followed by their wives and children, leaving me behind. I went on my way heavy-footed.

When my mother saw me coming into the house, she stared in amazement and said: “Why are you carrying your shoes and not wearing them?”

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 139

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