THE SHORT STORIES OF ZAKARIA TAMER
An angry man
Men are huddled together, shivering as they listen to explosions booming in the distance. They are all staring warily at a man right in front of them. He stands there rigid, with a fixed expression on his face, his feet splayed apart. He is doing his utmost not to let a fit of anger get the better of him.
He has already addressed them once. “I’m well aware,” he has told them in as gentle a tone as he can muster, “that my task’s going to be hard. But, if you all cooperate, it’ll turn out to be that much easier. I have to convince you all that death is nothing to be afraid of; it’s certainly nothing to make you scurry away.”
None of them said a word. The angry man bit his lower lip and stared at them angrily.
“Say something,” he said gruffly. “You’ve got to say something.” They remained silent. The angry man gestured at a tall man with broad shoulders. “You there,” he yelled, “say something!”
“What am I supposed to say?” “Anything you like.” “I’m a married man. If I die, who’ll feed my wife?” The man licked his lips. “I'm a jealous type,” he went on. “I love my wife. I don’t want to leave her for some other man to enjoy.”
The angry man scoffed and gestured to another man: “How about you?”
“I’ve five children. I have to take care of them till they’re grown up.”
“What about you?” “My life has been nothing but misery. Why should I have to die?” “And you?” “I don’t want to die. I love life so much I can’t put it into words.” “You love life so much,” the angry man yelled, his voice cracking, “that’s why you have to die.”
He stared at the men in disgust, his gaze full of reproach. “You’re all cowards,” he went on coldly. “If you don’t choose death, you’re going to lose everything you love.”
148 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015