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ALI BADER

sound of the outside door opening and closing forcefully. That meant someone had entered the house. I felt real terror. I was trembling from head to toe. I quickly got up and put on my robe. I closed the suitcase and fled to the courtyard in panic. At that moment I realized I had forgotten my knickers in his suitcase. I felt really ashamed, with a pain in my stomach. He might disgrace me.

But he did not. At the end of the summer he left us. We, my mother and I, were sadder over him than his father. What makes me happy, perhaps until this moment, is that he did not leave my knickers behind in the room, but took them with him in his suitcase.

*

My mother kept imploring Radi to invite his son to come and visit us again. And he did invite him in fact. We waited impatiently for his arrival, but Radi had not received permission from the armed men this time. One day we heard a great fuss by our house. My mother raced out to the street. Radi was not there, but a few women and men from among the neighbours were watching a young man hanging motionless from an old palm tree. A slender young man, brownskinned, bony. He was barefoot and naked apart from one shoe hanging off his foot. Life had left him apart from the flies circling his matted black hair, and the nonsensical voice of my mother who was standing like a scarecrow before the body.

The armed man killed the young man who had come to visit his father. They mutilated his body, his ears were cut off, on his face there were clots of blood and dried-up burns. The armed men refused to let him be taken down, and he stayed that way for two days, suspended with legs splayed and balls mangled like dough.

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 23

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