We Subject Her
Nizar B. Zain
Translation: Dr.Dinha T.Gorgis
Hashemite University, Jordan
It was early morning, just before sunrise, and before she could
barely open her eyes, that
jumped the stairs up to the roof of the house. Having
felt the dryness of the clothes hanging onto ropes, she
began to take them off piece by piece. She hurriedly
went down, jumping in almost the same manner she had
gone up. She was now panting, but filled with happiness:
"They're all dry, mom. They're all dry…"
Her ecstasy was indescribable while she was watching her crafty
mother iron the clothes piece by piece with an
old-fashioned , coal-functioning iron.The ironed clothes
, nevertheless, looked new and colorful…
It was only yesterday that she discovered she had brothers and
sisters. She knew nothing about them.
She asked herself if they would welcome her or whether they
would love her!
Her father assured her that they would.
But her mother did not seem optimistic…
She, in fact, was worried…
She imagined they would take her into their arms, hug her , and
give her warm and endless number of kisses.
Then her eyes fixed onto the slow-moving hands of the clock
hanging on the wall.
“I don't know why this situation makes me feel sad…
I am to be a bachelor once again…
My children are not kind-hearted…
I'm completely in the dark as to know how they have developed
rudeness in such a manner!!
Their late mother has been so patient and delicate...
I’ve never been harsh on any of them!
My daughters refuse to find me a suitable wife…
They reject the whole idea of getting me remarried in
They wouldn't allow any woman to replace their deceased mother.
And that’s their excuse…
Perhaps they've not heard the proverb: ‘Better be a bachelor
for ages, but never a widow for a month’."
And when I got married to one of the workers at the factory,
they went crazy at me:
" You marry one of your workers, dad? How come that you turn
our social status upside down, dad?!"
"But you refused to look a suitable wife for me, dear children,
especially you, daughters!"
My son, Sami, had never been willing to approve of the new
But my daughters had to face it, afterwards, provided that they
wouldn't keep any contact with her…
Umm Haifa [my wife] used to blame me for having been irresponsive
on the day of the incident.
Could I have been otherwise?
“He's my son and main supporter in running the factory. So
what has Umm Haifa expected me to do?" he asked himself.
“Did she want me to smack him, for example, or did she want me
to humiliate him before the workers? He's taller than
me! Couldn’t she see?”
At the very moment he saw her in my office ( May God forgive
him), he pushed her away onto the floor.
I was startled at what I saw but meanwhile perplexed…
There had been no room for reasoning…
And my hand got paralyzed …
She could call me “a coward" or "son of a bitch" because I
didn't defend her!
But I also could at least blame my son for what he had done;
being, after all, my son and indispensable co-manager…
She wanted a divorce. I did not object; she had it.
But what felony had
been involved in to be left as an orphan? She was only
It was high time for her she knew the rest of the family
And lived with her father who would look after her needs in the
Sami was totally opposed to the whole idea of bringing her
home; he was as heartless as a stone…
As for my daughters, they had no word to say about it…
Isn't silence golden?
All he way long to the house, Abu Sami [Sami’s
father] was describing the family's mansion: its
spacious yard, the ever-green leafy citrus tree standing
alongside a lake with its running and sparkling water in
the middle, and its two floors containing a good deal of
spacious rooms, some of which overlooking the river!
“Perhaps your nostrils will get irritated at
the very start once you take in the bad smell. But
you'll soon get used to it,
Haifa,” said he smiling. Then he added: "They'll love you
and, surely, you'll love them all. Your brother, Sami,
might give you a rather cool welcome, but he's after all
kind-hearted and apt to change his attitude in due
course. As for your sisters, they'll warmly hug you and
exceptionally take care of you."
The door, as usual, was knocked on twice to let those
staying indoors that he was coming in.
across hand-in-hand with Haifa,
her move few steps forwards .
introduced her to them .
their eyebrows raised, they started examining her with
eldest daughter made her remark sternly:
Before Haifa takes her veil off, and before any 'hi!' is
or encounter to take place, I'll dress up in no time and
take her right away to the midwife ,Umm Lutfi, with whom
I have made an agreement!"
"What has the midwife, Umm Lutfi, to do with
Safiyyah?" asked her father in bewilderment.
"Umm Lutfi has to examine her," she replied. “For how can we
tell how well her working-mother has raised her ?"
The argument became very heated, and mounted into a quarrel,
was standing by the door weeping silently…
She abruptly stopped crying , began to dry her tears off
and, with an outburst, she requested loudly: "Dad…! Take
me back to mom, right now! Or, else, I'm going all