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Libyan Writer Salah el-Haddad el-Sherif


Salah el-Haddad

Monday, 14 January, 2008

Oh, Lost Honour! (*)

A Short Story

Translated by: Salah Haddad

1

On her way back home, Sumer was accompanied by her boyfriend Sam, to the corner of Castleknock Road. She lived with her family just less than one mile from where the road began. It had been just one month since they’d met at Drama Studies Centre in UCD. They had teased and flirted with each other and some emails had been exchanged in between. Sumer had ignored her Dad’s warnings in relation to having any kind of relationship with boys at the college. Her father, Faraj, had been living in Ireland for about twenty five years. When he arrived in Ireland, he attended Trinity College, where he studied civil engineering. During his studies, in the late 70s, he fell in love with an attractive Irish lady, Natasha. He remembers well the day that Natasha told him she was pregnant with his child. As a result, they got married and had their first born, a son, Walid, who is now working as a barman in town. Soon afterwards, Natasha was pregnant again, resulting in her daughter Sumer.

As Sam was preparing to leave Sumer with a hot kiss printed on her lips, her father inadvertently passed by in his Mercedes on his way home. Suddenly, his exhausted tiny eyes fell on this sexy view. At this moment, Faraj began to skate along the edge of unconsciousness. His heart pounded in his ears and almost jumped out of his chest. The loud sound of a car-horn from out side brought him back to reality. He may have been killed or at least injured in hospital, possibly in a coma. "Oh, fuck that was close!" he sighed. This incident went unnoticed by the lovers. They were totally engrossed by the warmth of their kissing and embracing. Faraj, on the other hand, was barely able to park his car at the front gate of the house. This was easily the most terrifying experience of his life. Later, Sumer entered the house and immediately went upstairs, throwing her handbag away and going into the bathroom. She was really hot; every part of her body felt on fire. She slowly pulled down her dress, and then decided to have a quick shower. Despite the chilly autumn weather, she placed her head under the running cold water, in an attempt to quench the fire raging in her pussy. Before walking out of the bathroom into her bedroom, she stood in front of the mirror, which revealed her shiny red hair that was cut so well. She looked gorgeous. She was slim, a little below average in height, with a light complexion and beautiful honey eyes. As the remaining water dropped smoothly upon her smiling face, she gently began to lick and suck her withered lips, and then to massage her firm breasts, trying to refresh them again. “What a day!” she sighed, saying softly to herself as her mouth curved into a smile. Her quick shower had refreshed her. Immediately afterwards, she wrapped herself well in her rosy coloured towel and went into her bedroom. She put on a light dress and relaxed, listening to a new song by Star Usher, called (Burn). After a little while, there was rap upon her bedroom door. A hoarse voice called from outside, “Can I come in?”

“Come in” she replied, as she sat up on her bed, shifting her chewing gum from one cheek to the other, and listening to the music. He then entered and stood awkwardly in front of her. “Didn’t I warn you a thousand times not to get involved in any kind of foolish behaviour?” He said, glaring angrily at her.

“Excuse me Dad, what, foolish, behaviour, are you talking about?” she replied innocently after she lowered the sound of the music. She didn’t know that her father had been watching her, while she was kissing Sam on the street.

“Ah, do you think that I am an idiot like you? Do you think I'm fucking blind? I saw you with that fucker" he hissed at her, unable to keep his temper in check any longer. Then, he resumed shouting at her, “You are a dirty little bitch! Listen, I don't want to waste my time with you any longer, but this is your last warning . . . if you go near him again, I swear, I’ll slit your throat like this”. He attempted to intimidate her, pointing his fingers to his throat as if he was going to cut it. Then, Sumer quickly realised what her father was talking about.

“What? What makes you think like that?” she replied defensively, deciding not to give up easily to his intimidation. “Look, I really don’t know who the hell you think you are” she threatened, raising her voice. She felt instinctively that it was her duty to defend herself, instead of being twirled like a ring on her father's finger.

“Hey! Will you stop frightening me like this? It’s totally unacceptable, I won’t allow you to impose your backward ideas on me any more" She took a deep breath and continued, "Listen, I'm not a child anymore, okay, from now on, I’ll have my private life, where I can do whatever I want and whatever I like” she spat, throwing the gum away and standing in his face. Almost as soon as the words were out, he stepped closer and raised his hand in the air, trying to slap her, “Huh, shut your fucking mouth or I’ll smash your fucking face, you tart you're a disgrace to the family”. He shouted in an unusually aggressive voice. She rolled her eyes, “You must shut up and if you don’t take your hand off me, I’ll call the Gardai now.” she replied caustically, and her eyes looked like they had been burnt black!

“Are you serious? You're making a big mistake and we’ll see who is going to come to an end!” He glanced anxiously at her, turning back, his face seething with rage and stormed out of the room.

2

The fact was that he knew the truth of what his daughter had said. Undoubtedly there was someone who could really stop him. Indeed, he, himself remembered that he was not in his home country; he was in Ireland, where things were different. Natasha, meanwhile, rushed upstairs to find out what happened as she had heard Sumer screaming. She had been so engrossed in the preparation of the dinner in the kitchen. Now, on the way to Sumer’s room, she encountered Faraj on the stairs, “What’s going on?” she asked him sharply, glancing at him. Faraj didn’t answer her and turned his face away from her and went downstairs. However, for many years now, Natasha had not liked his bullying style, especially his bullying against Sumer. The main reason for most of the family's trouble was the conflict between Faraj and Sumer. Faraj always wanted to impose his views on her, such as what kind of clothes she should wear and what time she must be at home and so on. Natasha had often chided him for his rude behavior. Since then, the relationship had deteriorated between them. Natasha, turned to her daughter, “What's going on, honey?” she said, embracing her warmly, looking into her eyes, which were full of tears, “Tell me, what happened?” she repeated dramatically, as her voice grew serious.

“The usual, Mum, he was trying to impose his crazy ideas on me. He was threatening to slaughter me if I didn’t end my relationship with Sam and when I opposed him, and tried to explain, he tried to slap my face". She started to sob, "When I mentioned that I'm gonna to call the Garadai, he just snarled at me and stormed out of the room. Mum, I am, I'm no longer able to endure his behavior, I'm sick of him, even to see his bloody face. He was deadly serious; he has turned my life into a hell”. She declared flatly and tears streamed down her rosy cheeks as she tried to explain her feelings.

“Oh, come on, don’t worry darling ... don’t worry! He’s just a little coward, I know him, don't worry. I promise things will get better. He can't hurt you in this country, the law will protect you". She said, running her hands through her hair. Sumer rolled her eyes, looking anxiously at her mother. “But Mum, what if he tries to kill me, what do I do then? I'm really scared, Mum. Oh God, help me!” She burst into tears again!

“Oh, come on that’s enough, honey. It's not as serious as that, he must be joking and as I told you he wouldn’t be able to hurt a flea! I know him very well; I have shared my life with him for around twenty years, you know. Come on, hon. Leave it now and come with me downstairs, and we'll have something to eat together.” She said with a warm smile, wiping Sumer’s tears away. While she was taking her daughter into the kitchen, Faraj was sitting on the sofa, sipping his favourite drink; watching the news on the telly. The women sat at the kitchen table. Natasha called to Faraj, “Would you like to have your dinner now?”

“No, I'm not hungry!” He grunted. A few minutes later, while they were having their dinner, the phone rang and before the third ring ended, Faraj picked up the phone, “Hello, can I talk to Sumer, please?” It was Sam’s voice. “Who is calling?” He asked.

“It’s me, Sam”. He said.
“She’s not in”. He growled.
“Oh, Could you please tell her that Sam rang and I’ll try to ring her later. Thanks”. Said Sam, slightly bemused. Faraj put the phone down and adrenaline was pumping through his veins, as the anger raised slowly all round his body.

3

Sumer suspected that Sam had been on the phone. As Sumer finished eating her dinner, she heard her mobile phone beeping on the table. Her hand jumped up to answer it. “Hi, Sam, I miss you so much!” she answered warmly with a beautiful smile painted on her face.

“Hi, where have you been? Is everything okay? I rang you at home a few minutes ago, but your Dad told me that you weren’t in.” He said worryingly. Sumer felt embarrassed because of her father's behaviour, “I'm at home and haven't been out”. She stated flatly. Despite the fact that she knew her father was listening her conversation with Sam, she bravely continued talking to Sam who was astonished with her frankness, and because he wasn’t interested in going any further with her on this subject, he immediately changed it and asked,

“Honey, listen, there is a great movie showing on in Lifly Valley? It’s a romantic movie, you’ll like it. It starts at 9.30 tonight."

“Sure love" She replied. “Will you come over to pick me up or …? She added with a slight grin, ruffling her red hair.

“Sure no problem, see you in a few minutes” He grinned even more broadly! She then hung up and told her mother that she was going to the cinema with Sam. A short time later, Sumer then took off with Sam on his motorbike to the cinema, dumping her father’s threat. It was a chilly Saturday evening and the clock ticked past 9:00 pm, the curfew time her father had set for her. This actually was one of the strict rules that he imposed on her.

While lighting a cigarette, Natasha sat down on the sofa opposite to her husband, “I want to ask you a question; why don’t you leave my daughter alone? Do you want her to spend the rest of her life in a mental hospital? Or do you want her to kick herself? For God’s sake, what has happened to you? When will you stop acting crazy and begin to treat her gently, carefully and smartly?” she asked him, looking miserably at him.

“I’m not as smart as you!” He gave a scornful laugh.
“Well, it seems as if I’m talking to the wall, but I’m warning you . . . keep out of this or I'll cut you in two!" She stiffened, blood rushed to her face as she rose in anger!
“Huh, are you threatening me?” He laughed, raising his sleepy grey eyes to the roof. “Consider it as you consider it but from now on, I’ll kick you out of the house if you continue to oppose Sumer like this and if you think that she is still one of your gambling games, then you’re definitely gonna be the loser”. She replied sharply, blowing the smoke onto his face.
“Oh, bloody hell! How foolish if you think that you’re frightening me?" His shoulders shook as he raised his wine glass to his mouth and burst into a great roar of laughter!

4

It was half past midnight when Sumer was found herself standing on the doorstep beside her brother Walid, who was holding one of his girlfriends, Laura in his arms.
“Hi” Sumer said to him but he didn’t reply. He was drunk; stunk of beer, unable to open the door. (…..) He mumbled about the wrong key. Sumer sidled and rang the bell. The sharp shrill of the doorbell cut off the remainder of his laugh. Natasha jumped to open the door. As Sumer went upstairs to her room to sleep, Walid slumped down on the sofa in front of his father, and started to kiss Laura. Natasha watched the scene. She was sickened,
“Hey, come on, what are you waiting for? Do something to keep your fucking Arab honor!”

Then, she stormed out to her separate room. In fact, it wasn’t a secret that Natasha felt deeply repentant for the day that she met him. She realised that the difference between their cultural backgrounds affected their life. On the other hand, Faraj, also had exactly the same feelings, “It was really a stupid idea” said Faraj, blaming himself. They had both been looking forward at the beginning to a happy life, based on tolerance, trust, respect, and mutual understanding, despite the differences of their religion, culture, and habits but unfortunately the dream didn’t come true. Frankly, the differences only increased day by day until it seemed that both couldn’t even agree on the day of the week! Now the greatest challenge facing them both was the challenge of Sumer’s future as Faraj strongly believed that his daughter would never ever marry a Christian guy or even have a relationship with one because of the Fatwa (religious verdict), which forbids the Muslim women to marry the infidels men. Though Faraj wasn’t a religious man at all, you can simply say that it is the traditional way of thinking for all Muslims across the world. Only a few months ago, Faraj, went to the Dublin Mosque and obtained this Fatwa from the Sheikh. One day, Natasha asked him about this particular matter,

“Why is it okay for men to marry Christian women yet Muslim women are not allowed? Where is freedom, justice, logic?” she stated flatly. Faraj, actually didn’t have any logical answer except the Fatwa from the Dublin mosque. “I’m so sorry to say you’re like a parrot, repeating what you heard” she continued, bursting to tell him all about double standards.

5

As time passed, Sumer’s relationship with Sam was getting stronger. They understood each other perfectly; they read together in the college library, they both went to cafés, shops, pubs, parties, and the cinema. All in all, she’d coped quite well the Irish way. Now, as Sumer told her boyfriend the tragic story of her father, Sam was completely shocked, “Ah, bullshit! How can this kind of mentality live in the 21st century? Ask him whether he loved once in his entire life or not? Ask him about how his own relationship with your Mom was? And . . . I don’t actually know how to say it but how can everyone live on this planet without love? What a cold heart! Come on, baby, let him answer these questions! Please, tell him that if there were another life somewhere, it would be better for him to go there forever. Sweetie, forgive me for saying that!” Sumer totally seemed to agree with every single word he said.

Just a day before the end of semester one, the show was taking place in the faculty theatre for a competition sponsored by RTÉ. The show was about Shakespeare’s play (Romeo & Juliet) and in that play, Sumer had acted Juliet’s role, whilst Sam had acted as Romeo. Surprisingly, the show was incredible! Sumer (Juliet) was wearing a diaphanous red dress, which showed up every detail of her sexy body. On the other hand, Sam (Romeo) had appeared in a white shirt and red jacket with black trousers. He had blond hair, smooth and delicate skin. He was witty, charming, and had excellent manners. They both really looked gorgeous. In a stunning scene, she pushed a fair curl away from his pretty face, and put her arms around Sam’s neck and reached forward for a much-longed for kiss,
“Thou know’st the mask of night is on my face, Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek. For that, which thou hast me speak to-night”. She said to him in a sexy voice. Again, she glanced at him with her tiny honey eyes and rested her head on his chest,

“O, my dear, my bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.” He said softly. At this moment, she saw him lean forward to kiss her. Immediately afterwards, he began to drop kisses on her neck, shivering as he felt her relax. She responded by kissing him, pressing her tongue deep into his mouth and cutting off all further conversation. This particular scene had captured the hearts of the audience, as they clapped along to the rhythm. As a result, they had won a holiday package prize to Venice in Italy, including luxury hotel accommodation for two weeks. Natasha actually was very proud of her daughter’s performance and the prize that she won and she wished them a very pleasant journey. Fortunately, Sumer was quite lucky because her father was in London on business.

6

After a three-hour flight, the plane had landed safely in Venice airport. The journey went exactly as planned. However, on the last evening of their journey, something unusual happened. They were having their dinner in Antico Martini, a top-class romantic restaurant. When they had finished eating, she flicked her hair out of her face and said,

“I think it’s time for dessert, love! Ha, tell me what kinds of dessert you would like to eat?” She smiled warmly. Sam rolled his blue eyes,
“Well, this depends on what you’re going to suggest?” he asked, turning the attention back to her. “Ok, what about strawberry ice-cream?” She flashed him another look, winking at him. Seeming not to have heard, he took her hands softly and felt himself momentarily fixed in her strong gaze,
“What if I want something different?” As Sam spoke those words, a smug smile crossed Sumer's lips, apparently reading his thoughts. So her emotions flickered across her features as Sam saw the confusion on her face.
“I think it would better to choose something from the catalogue” She wondered if he could have studied the signs of her fervent feelings. Then, Sam approached her pretty face gently, letting his fingers trail across her cheeks,
“Sweetie, I’d prefer to have our desserts on the bed over there!” He glanced at her with his shiny eyes. Now, Sumer was too overwhelmed by a sensation that wrapped around her. Her own heart sank; her body grew very hot despite the cold weather in late December. Suddenly, she unconsciously jumped up; hand-in-hand, running toward the hotel.

In the San Marco Palace hotel, inside their room, they lay on the bed, they were both naked and were exploring each other’s bodies and he allowed his fingers to trail across her breast. Her breathing quickened when he moved his hand down along her hips and thighs. Pushing against her again he felt the pressure of her hips responding. He reached round and filled his hands with her breasts, smooth and soft. The girl stretched, threw an arm drowsily across the pillow. One last time to be sure, he whispered, “Hey, baby, what’s your favourite position?” Then, he slid over her, lying between her cold legs. She responded by pulling him tight against her and this time she sighed,
“Ah, please, again, again . . . lovely!” Not long after, she screamed when he entered her and wrapped her legs around his back.

7

The following morning, the blood was everywhere. She sat on the edge of the bed; her voice was low, her face went pale, her heart leaped, and her tears spilled over. The concern darkened her eyes, “I wish I hadn’t been born!” She sighed sadly to herself. She had never forgotten, and she never would. The image of his father was etched in her mind for all time. Now, as Sam studied Sumer’s tired and anxious expression, he turned to her and rested her head on his shoulder softly, “Come on, Sumer, don’t be feeling guilty about this. Everything is gonna be alright!”

Since then, Sam was doing all he could to calm and reduce the stress on her. One evening, he invited her to go out and dance in Eamonn Dorans Bar, situated in the heart of Temple Bar. While they were enjoying the dance, a wheaten face had appeared. He was middle-aged, short, with tiny eyes, a curved moustache, and was accompanied by a blond fat woman with thick lips, large beautiful eyes, and huge breasts, falling loose under her vest. Her short black mini-skirt revealed almost all of her thighs. Suddenly, as Sumer went to the toilet, her eyes hunted down the short man while he was dancing with the strange woman. Immediately, an overwhelming sensation overcame her. Then, she rushed towards them, and began to shout at them but he didn’t respond till his lover took her thick lips off him.
“Hey, you should be ashamed of yourself, shouldn’t you be? She gave him a nasty look. He listened with a sinking heart as he quickly realised the inevitable consequences. Eventually, she spat in his face and stormed out. She rang her mother and told her what the hell was going on. After finishing the call, Natasha sat on the sofa, holding her head in her hands and breaking her heart crying. A few weeks ago, Sumer seemed to have some kind of reverse vertigo, perhaps, a symptom of pregnancy. Faraj, on the other hand, had never returned home since he’d been seen in Eamonn Dorans Bar. Now, Natasha jumped when the phone rang,
“Hello, who's there?” she asked. Faraj, actually was ringing her just to measure her reaction and see how far she would go. When he heard her voice, he was a bit frightened. As he didn’t say a word, Natasha put the phone down. A few seconds later, Faraj rang her again,
“Hello, how may I help you?” She offered nervously. After a few moments of silence, “Hi there, it’s me!” He rolled his tiny eyes.
“What do you want from me after all you’ve done, bastard?” She immediately recognised his voice. “Go and shave your ass, you cunt!” She said angrily, slamming the phone down.

8

Most definitely, Natasha thought once again, how stupid it all was, as she went into her living-room and slumped on her sofa, bursting into tears. After a home pregnancy test, Sumer knew that she was pregnant. She informed her mother and then Sam about her pregnancy. Sam immediately, offered her to join him in his family home to avoid any problems with her father. For some reason, she refused. By the time Fiona gave birth to a boy, Faraj received the latest news of his son’s girlfriend happily. He visited them in the Rotunda hospital, bringing lots of lovely baby gifts. After three days, Walid brought them home, giving them his own room. Later on, because his bedroom was too small, he swapped it with Sumer.

One rainy night, in a local pub, Faraj lost his gambling. As a result, he drank till the clock struck four in the morning. Then, he decided to kill his daughter. After turning the alarm off, he sneaked into the kitchen, taking a sharp knife with him, while everyone in the house was in a deep sedated sleep. He went upstairs and entered Sumer’s bedroom. In repose, she looked peaceful like a child asleep, her thin face framed by fine brown hair. Now, he approached her bed and smoothly he muzzled her mouth and cut her throat till she died and then he disappeared. All of a sudden, the baby’s scream broke the silence of the house, waking them all. They rushed into the room, where the scream came from. In the end, they found Fiona falling to her death. As the Garda began to investigate, Sumer and her mother realised that the victim had been killed mistakenly! All the family was completely shocked! The next morning, Walid heard the tragic story of his girlfriend, as he wasn’t at home when the accident happened. On his way to Libya, Faraj was making a short stop in Genevia’s airport. He was so delighted to have cleaned the honour of his family. He thought that he would never get rid of it as he had been tainted! However, while Faraj was preparing to fasten his seat belt, the Interpol arrested him. And through the interrogation, he realised what a big mistake he had made when he entered the wrong room! As a result, he tried to kill himself while he was in Garda custody but he failed. Finally, in the court, where none of his relatives were present, the judge jailed him for life. A few months later, Sumer gave birth to a little baby girl, called Caroline.

Dublin, 2004
________________________

* This story was one of "The Train of Love" short story collection published in Arabic, by Salah Haddad, Beirut: Arab Institute for Research & Publishing, 2005.


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