THE SHORT STORIES OF ZAKARIA TAMER
slapped a baby as hard as it could, would not make it cry. The first thing he did was warmly shake my hand. We smiled together happily as the photographer took a few commemorative colour snapshots. Then the interrogator let the burly men who were with him and whose hobby was to collect autographs of celebrities, request my autograph. However, I couldn’t hold a pen, so I had to dip all ten of my fingers in ink and plant their imprints on their notepads. Then a TV presenter came and conducted a lengthy interview with me on effective ways of supporting the integrity of the family. I commended the wife who only let her husband kiss her on national holidays and patriotic occasions.”
Grand Abdullah continued: No sooner had I told my neighbours what had happened to me than one of them interrupted me in a rebuking and ridiculing tone: “You should’ve honoured the poor husband sentenced to keep kissing his wife.”
So I shouted and threatened: “If anyone else interrupts me, I’ll stop talking altogether.”
Voices rose promising me they would be quiet. When silence again prevailed, I went on: “After that, a journalist tried to egg me on to make an anti-government statement, but I refused and reprimanded him, saying: If you had a conscience you wouldn’t be that kind of person and work for a newspaper that even rats wouldn’t chew, preferring to die of starvation, unsoiled and pure.’”
The journalist withdrew in embarrassed fashion, dragging his tail of defeat and humiliation behind him.
Then one of my neighbours shouted to me: “What about the interrogator? You forgot about the interrogator!”
I said: “I hope that one day before I die I get the chance to meet his parents and congratulate them on raising such a wonderful child! Picture this! The interrogator offered me a very comfortable chair to sit on, but I said to him: “I have lived my life standing up and I’ll die standing up!” He acceded to my desire immediately and blushed with shame and regret. He said: “You know I am just a functionary who carries out the orders my boss gives me, and my boss has a boss, and my boss’s boss has a boss.”
I interrupted him, irritated: “Why don’t you say what you want to say without going around the houses? Ask me any question and
136 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015
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