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anything without asking what I thought of it, and I’m not one to flatter.”

Then Mamdouh Adwan died again. Cancer was the cause of death the first time, but this time he died from the boorishness of alBalati.

Zakiya al-Uleimat was in love with her neighbour’s son, but he married the daughter of his aunt, leaving Zakiya miserable and without belief in any kind of love, considering it to be a futile illusion. And when she met an honest man who said he loved her and wanted to share his life with her, she was in a deep quandary and could not decide whether to stay single or agree to marry him and take revenge upon all men.

Bahjat al-Saqqar was a wild young man ready to infuriate everything on the face of the earth except his mother. He was creative in finding ways to please her, for she was holy and he pampered her by rushing to her room every morning to kiss her hands. But one day she said to him in an angry voice that was full of blame: “If I had married a rich man, we would have been able to have a decent life.”

He decided to marry only a rich woman, but he fell in love with a poor girl and married her, confident that she would bring forth children who would in turn blame her because she had married a poor man.

Saud al-Hilu suffered from excess weight that no sport or diet or arduous fasting could bring down. But no sooner did he look for work than much of his flesh and fat melted away even though he could not find a job. He did not despair and kept his resolve to look for work but he was afraid that his increasing slenderness would render him invisible even though he did not own a cap of invisibility.

Jamal al-Safi used to eat three meals a day in his youth. In old age he was eating only one meal a day, and not for health reasons, but he did not complain and thanked God, hoping that he would not end up eating only one meal a week.

Salim al-Mallakh loved a young woman who was faithful and naïve and who loved him madly, threatening suicide if his love for her should fade some day. After a marriage that lasted seven months she divorced him after stripping him of everything he owned. When Salim al-Mallakh set out for the court to attend the divorce proceedings, he had to ask his friends to lend him some underclothes.

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 59

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