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ALI BADER

so, it would be to order her to spray insecticide in the toilet or to fill the water tank. My exhausted mother, always sweltering in the heat, had little passion for emotions and love. She barely had enough time to see me or acknowledge me, so I remained little known to her. Even if I had surprised her with the blossoming of my body in adolescence and my metamorphosis into a different being, she would not have known how all that had happened. For my part, I was not clamouring to attract her gaze, nor demanding like other girls. I was silent, shy, always busy in some corner of the house with secret games. I only went out to go to school. My mother did not stop working for a second. She would even mumble what she was going to do the following day in her sleep. The only thing she was proud of was me. She was always bragging in front of the neighbours because I, her daughter, won all the school prizes. She would boast that I had won the top prize every year since I had entered the town school. My mother was very happy with me and prayed every day that I become a doctor. It would have been an honour for her. She pleaded with, begged, cajoled God to recompense her for what she had lost with my father. Perhaps out of hatred and disgust for him, she could never get used to him. Her resentment at him did not stop over time, but festered. The sore did not burst, but seeped. She hated him with every atom of her being, with every thought and feeling her body housed. She wished disaster upon him, illness, accidents, anything provided she did not have to nurse him. Revenge turned out to be sweet. God finally answered her when my father carried out a suicide bombing and killed lots of farmers, and himself too. My mother would wake up at seven to make breakfast, and with her waking the familiar blare of the radio would impinge on me. A mixture of the voice of the broadcaster and the hiss of the samovar. The sound of car engines and the eager chaos of morning. A deep need for the songs of Fairuz and a boundless appetite for morning bustle. After the armed men came and occupied the town, the schools stopped completely. Morning rites stopped. The town fell silent. I spent a few days at home helping her. After my father began working with the armed men, I started helping her at her new job cleaning the armed men’s house.

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 13

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