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ALI BADER

it on the wall. She made us lentil soup with meat and offered it to us. Her hands trembled with joy. I felt every cell of my mother’s delighting in that clean-shaven lad. Her face would redden as she looked at him, as though she were feverish.

I felt there was something artificial about my mother and her laughter from the heart. I felt she was attracted to him. She wafted the perfume she put on, which Radi had bought for her, but which she had never worn before. I felt her keeping me at a distance whenever I drew close to her, and she was annoyed by my being there with her around him.

*

The main event in my transformation towards him came when I felt that he was watching me. I walked in front of him and felt his eyes following me, looking at my behind. From that night I saw him differently. I no longer hated him, and no longer despised him. He had at least honoured me with a glance at my behind. I wasn’t disgusted by him any more. Whenever I saw him or heard him talking I remembered those sly glances and once again felt my skin burning, my soul agitated, and a feverish heat I cannot put into words.

I would watch him furtively from afar, and so started to discover new things I had not known before. I saw his chest hair poking out above his vest, his beautiful neck, the curve of his buttocks, his strong thighs as he left the bathroom, careful to show his body to me and my mother. I felt the sensuous curve of his belly, his full lips, the elegance of his long, slender legs. I was beset with an unbearable urge to go up to him and embrace him. When I saw him I heard the sound of his breathing and the beating of his heart. When he passed by me, I inhaled his dry, penetrating smell, like that of warm bread.

*

At night I imagined I was playing with the hair on his chest, touching the muscles on his thigh, stroking the curve of his buttocks, listening to the sound of his throat. When he lifted his gaze and our eyes met, I would run off trembling and hide in the furthest bush in the courtyard. He dominated my thoughts, and I was no longer able to bear the transfixing of time when I was away from him. When I went out of the house, I felt it was a nightmare and would think

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 21

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