Sulma’s face crumples the moment she sees the pothole we call Al-Wazany, after the mayor. I can’t bear to see her upset. Enough is enough, I say to myself: One day, I am going to do something about it.
I have known Sulma my whole life. We were classmates and then dated for eight years. After graduation, I went to look for a job that would allow me to marry her. Unfortunately, I was not very successful at finding one, even though I had attained excellent grades in school. It was probably around that time when Al-Wazany was appointed mayor. The first thing he did was order the construction of a mosque that would carry his name. During the time he was in charge, some public baths and a soccer field were built. The roads, however, remained in poor conditions.
All his friends and family members secured positions of authority. Corruption and nepotism ran wild. Most of the people that ended up being chosen for qualified positions didn’t even have to bother to take an exam or attend an interview. Witnessing people who were way less qualified than me for the position I was applying for getting the job took a heavy toll on me. I ceased enjoying life as much as I used to. Being with Sulma and listening to her voice were the only things that took my mind off my misery. She prompted me to entertain hope.
I have to say goodbye to her before she enters the neighborhood where she lives. I cannot be seen with her, because that would tarnish her reputation. And right there, at the place where we have to part ways, lies the giant pothole. I look at it and it stares right back at me, and there is nothing I can do about its irreverent attitude, but turn around and leave.
I couldn’t expect Sulma to abandon her wheel-chair-bound mother, who needs assistance to cope with everyday life, and her mother wasn’t going to leave her house and extended family to move to another city. I had promised to marry her, but I needed to make enough money to sustain all of us financially. That is why I finally wound up moving to another city all by myself. I needed to try luck somewhere else.
After some time, a new mayor was elected and things immediately started to change for the better. The roads were repaired and al-Wazany was plugged. I didn’t do too bad myself, and after saving some money, I decided to return home.
In the end, I did get Sulma to the altar and we had a very beautiful wedding. After the reception, we said goodbye to our guests, I slung Sulma across my right shoulder and carried her to the car that was supposed to take us to our honeymoon destination. She looked radiant, with a rosy blush flushing her cheeks.
I started the car and we took off. We were about to leave her neighborhood, when suddenly, the street lamps of the road went out and we were plunged into pitch-black darkness. I knew the sensible thing to do was to stop the car. We were, however, approaching the former Al-Wazany, the divide we had never before been allowed to cross together, and something took over me. I instinctively stepped on the gas and we rammed into a red truck coming from the opposite direction.
Written by Aziz Samidi.