Eager to Die

Bridge Qasr al-Nil, Cairo

Mustafa was in his twenties. He had gone to university, where he had met Hayam as a freshman. She had been a classmate of his. He proposed as soon as he graduated and went to ask her father for her hand in marriage. Hayam’s father was a prominent civil servant and didn’t welcome the idea of Mustafa marrying his daughter since he didn’t have a job. However, at his daughter’s insistent bidding, he finally consented to their engagement.

Months passed, but the situation remained the same. Mustafa had been looking for a job but hadn’t gotten lucky so far.

One rainy night, his fiancée called him on the phone and told him that her father was intent on breaking their engagement. She also told him that she had no choice but to accept her father’s decision, because he had tried to strangle her.

Mustafa hung up, frothing at the mouth and feeling desperate. His fiancée was the only one who cared for him and supported him. He knew that she couldn’t just run away, because then she’d have to spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder. He felt that his life was meaningless and was tempted to end it. He couldn’t bear people who dithered over such matters, and so before long he had made up his mind.

He left his house. The streets were empty. It wasn’t that late of an hour, but the rain was contributing to keeping everyone from going outside. Mustafa walked over to the center of a bridge crossing Egypt’s magical Nile, stopped, took another second to assess the pertinence of his final decision, looked around him to make sure nobody was watching, took a deep breath, and sans further ado, jumped.


“Quick! Call an ambulance!”

The clamor from passersby barely reached Mustafa’s ears. He felt like he was about to conk out. Without opening his eyes, he started to have a conversation with himself. “Oh God, even my suicide attempt has fallen flat. It seems like whatever I set out to do is doomed to failure.”

The crowd appeared to be taken aback when Mustafa finally opened his eyes. But then he sprang to his feet and sprinted away, leaving everybody downright discombobulated.

Minutes later, he was meandering around the streets again, feeling deeply dispirited.

However, he suddenly came up with a brilliant idea, one that he felt instantly confident about. Mustafa believed it would be his last chance to prove that he could succeed at whatever he set his mind to do. Before him, an electric cable had broken off a transmission tower and was now striking sparks against the wet pavement with a vengeance.

He advanced toward it very slowly. Mustafa’s face paled with fright. Was he sure that this was what he was looking for? But then the realization that he had been born a loser—and the recollection of how he had lost his fiancée in the bargain—hit him again. These thoughts without question dashed him, but they also strengthened his resolve.

Mustafa stretched out his hand toward the exposed live wire. However, before he touched it, his phone rang. That definitely knocked his socks off. It wasn’t the fact that his phone would choose to ring at such an inconvenient time as the present moment, but that it rang at all after having fallen with him into the waters of the Nile. It looked like the phone’s leather case had kept it from getting wet. At first, he hesitated, unsure of whether to take the call. Then, however, he saw that it was Hayam calling. He yearned to hear her so he picked up the phone.

“My love, I have threatened to go on a hunger strike if my father keeps forcing us apart, for I am yours and you’re mine. We’ll talk more later. Bye.”

For the duration of the call, Mustafa had just mumbled. He hung up and huffed with relief. Suddenly, he realized that he loved Hayam with all his heart and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He cast an anxious glance at the cable and distanced himself from it like a shot. He didn’t want to die anymore—under no circumstances. As long as he could stay close to her, dying was not an option.

He then began to stride confidently toward his bright future. While dreaming of his boo, he couldn’t help but think that life had truly become a bed of roses.

The rain pelted down on Mustafa as he trotted along the street. But he didn’t care. He was walking on air—so much so that he stopped paying attention to the road. As soon as he turned the next street corner, he was run over by a car flying like a bat out of hell in the rain. The crash was fatal; his lifeless body fell to the ground.


Written by Ahmed Mahmoud Zaky.

Choose your own adventure

The theater of the absurd is hilarious when

a) one can be certain the author has resorted to using hyperboles to slightly distort reality.

b) everything ultimately goes back to making sense.