The sun shone, announcing the beginning of a brand new day. The ashtray was crammed with cigarette butts. He performed his ablutions and proceeded with the prayer. He closed his eyes in order to wake up to the sound of the Muslim nation, which, in a gesture of motherly love, flung its arms around him and pressed a kiss on his cheeks before leaving in peace. Right then she started going down the stairs. She told him she was going out to run some errands. Something made him follow her with his eyes to see whether she turned right or left past the front door. However, by the time he had craned his head backwards, she had faded away. He rubbed his eyes and cast a last quick look around to make sure she was gone, allowing her absence to settle inside him. He then rushed to unload his luggage, which he had packed just a few days earlier when his life in the country had gotten complicated and the only choice he felt he had was to leave for Cairo.
The only relative he had living in the big city was an uncle with a small apartment. Given that blood is thicker than water, he had deemed his chances of getting someone to tide him over significantly higher if he were to knock on his uncle’s door. As had been to be expected, his uncle, not wanting to take a stand against social conventions embedded in folk wisdom, had felt obligated to take him in and welcome him to the flat he shared with his wife and kids. He also had promised to be on the lookout for job opportunities to aid him in turning the corner.
Since day one, both he and his cousin had darted lust-coated glances at each other. She was a beautiful girl who knew exactly how to swing her feminine hips to rock his world. On the other hand, he himself knew perfectly well how to play his cards to make her fall for him, a born Casanova with an indefinable charm. They got married, and a few days later, she got pregnant; he became the happiest man on earth. But his joy did not last long. In a few weeks’ time, his wife began to shout at him and complain about him in front of everyone.
She would run to any Tom, Dick, or Harry to apprise them of the cross she had to bear as a result of being married to him, a savage without a moral compass, a real bully that apparently had turned her life into a nightmare. She portrayed him as an ungrateful bastard, an infidel who wouldn’t recognize the sanctity of marriage.
He claimed she had him dancing to her tune and treated him abominably. Moreover, he said there was no end to her nasty temper. According to him, she was as nutty as a fruitcake, possessing the type of mental disorders that would grant anyone a place at an institution. He described her as a haughty and self-absorbed slanderer, who, despite the love he showed her, cast him as the villain.
However, the Man Upstairs does not let his flock off lightly. Shortly after starting her insulting behavior, she was diagnosed with a malignant tumor that had been discovered way too late for her to stand a chance against it.
Thus she sent him a letter to try and fix what she had ruined back in the day. He suddenly felt as though he could hear her heartbeat, just as he did when they had first met.
Life and death, who said they were antonyms? They are like most synonyms: life stems from death and some people live as if they were already dead, without placing any value on life or hoping for their hearts to keep on beating. Unexpectedly, he hears the rumble of approaching thunder outside. The night is getting darker. “Dear husband, it would seem that the time has come for us to say goodbye.”
Ashraf Doos is an Egyptian writer member of the Arab Writers Union. He was born in the province of Beni Suef in 1964. His writings have been published in the most prominent Arabic websites and he is one of the most frequently lauded authors and journalists of the Arab World. He gets asked to write forewords for the work of his fellow journalists all the time. Among the journals he has published in, there are several worth mentioning: Youm 7, Al Masry Al Youm, Al Dostor, Veto Gate and the journal of Al Ahram.