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me, and my body is the audience clapping for me. I’ve become a friend of the night, even though that’s when the pains are the worst. Sometimes I look out the window at that time and wonder: am I the shadows of its darkness, or a star in the sky? And it’s such torture! When I walk down the street in the hot sun, I don’t know which one is me: my body, or my shadow? I look at my body and I feel afraid of it, and I get the urge to cry. Other times I feel as though I’ve disappeared. I can’t perceive my presence even in my own house. I’ll imagine that I’m behind me. Then I spin around and around as though I were trying to find myself. Other times I’ve looked outside and wondered in a whisper: is that me in the dress hanging on the clothes line? And at those moments when I’m broken up over the breakup with my boyfriend Youssef and his betrayal of me, I feel as though I was born from a hot tear once shed by my mother who, although it was her nature to be harsh, even to herself, was pure-hearted and affectionate deep down.That tear is the womb that bore me.

“I don’t know why, but there’s one thing I’m sure of, namely, that I wasn’t made from a man’s rib. Rather, I was made from the ribs of my mother and my grandmothers. This conviction was solidified when, one terrifying, pain-racked night, all these women appeared before me. I was lying in bed, and my body was trembling like a feather being buffeted about in a storm.

“Our area was being ravaged by devastating wars at the time, and hearing terrible reports of things going on, I decided to darken the room, thinking mistakenly that the darkness would block out my pain and stop the convulsions in my body. But instead, I was seized by a fit of delirium from the high dose of sedatives I’d taken. I felt as though I was fading away into nothing, as though the darkness had completely dissolved me this time. I was absent from myself. Even Youssef was absent – Youssef, the one person who had never left my memory or my body for a single moment. I wept bitterly, but even my tears, copious though they were, started evaporating and collecting as vapour on the ceiling.

“Then, all of a sudden, at the peak of my out-of-body experience, I saw the spectre of a woman wearing a long, white robe and headscarf. Sensing that she must be the fairy godmother, I said to her: ‘I’m sick, O Good One, and I’m being made sicker still by the oblivion that’s devoured my memory. I don’t recall my life. How can I

80 BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021

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