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had committed suicide and he didn’t know that she had left a short letter, badly written and with many spelling mistakes but full of love rather than reproaches. He didn’t know why she was telling him off and he didn’t know her and she didn’t know him and if she had known him he would have known that she knew him, and when he said that he didn’t know her and the barman asked him if he wanted any dinner, Tarif replied that he’d let his friends choose and he’d eat whatever they were eating. The barman laughed and Tarif then realised that his friends had left the bar without him noticing and they had left him alone. His hands gripped the photograph of the woman he didn’t know and he didn’t know that she loved him and he didn’t know that he loved her and if he had known he would have denied it.

TRANSLATED BY JONATHAN WRIGHT From the collection Al-Hisrim (Sour Grapes), 2000

News of the Sheep


A lamb asked the butcher not to cause him any injury, attaching to his request a dossier of medical reports that demonstrated the harm caused by eating meat and the virtues of vegetarianism, but the butcher did not know how to read and write and his only concern was with how to please his customers, who liked meat and paid for it.

2 A young sheep said to an old one: “It’s time for the older generation of sheep to retire from positions of responsibility in the sheep world because they have not mastered the knowledge needed to convince people that they should not eat lamb. As for us, the younger generation, we know what you don’t know, and we will succeed in all areas in which you didn’t.”

The aged sheep laughed sarcastically and said to the young one: “You won’t succeed even if people are born without molars and

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 69

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