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THE PILL MAN’S FATE

one day as he used to earn in a whole year. He sat at home, confident that those who wanted his pills would seek him out, even if he were living on the other side of the world. In the beginning the pills started a maelstrom of rumours about their effects but the rumours soon died down, to be replaced by other rumours speculating about where they came from. But whenever Said al-Hallaa was asked about them, he just smiled and pointed upwards. He was tracked closely for days but the monitoring only added to the uncertainty because he was just sitting at home hugging his little boy or his wife. No strangers visited him and he didn’t visit anyone. The postman never brought him any letters or parcels, and he didn’t buy anything from the shops that could be used as raw material for the pills. No one was able to find out where they came from, how they were made, who made them or what the ingredients were. His wife’s friends tried to lure her into disclosing information that would reveal how her husband obtained the pills, but it turned out that she didn’t know anything more than was already known. She told them her husband insisted she never take any pills because she was perfect and just the way he wanted her to be, and he didn’t want her to be as she wanted to be. Big businessmen came in droves to see Said al-Hallaa, with tempting proposals for manufacturing the pills and marketing them all over the country, and his answer was that the pills were only for his neighbourhood. Other people, experts in importing and exporting, offered to export the pills to various foreign countries to make massive profits, but Said al-Hallaa rejected their offers in angry disapproval and answered that the profits would then be tainted money. Resentment against him began to grow and spread in the neighbourhood, especially when there

Front cover of Sour Grapes

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 55

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