July 20, 2013


Filed under: Fiction — by Zuhair @ 8:29 am

The door creaked as he opened it. He stepped in silently, hoping his wife was asleep ’Don’t hear me’, he thought.  A dreadfully long day had gone by and all he wanted to do was go to bed. His shoes felt loose and worn out on his feet.  ‘It’s so dark’. A candle burned in the kitchen and shed its light on the lines that scarred the old table.  He could see her shadow watching him silently through the still air.

He heard his wife’s voice say, ‘They’ve cut the electricity. The fridge isn’t working. There’s no food in it anyway.’

‘I don’t know what to do.’

It was a familiar conversation.

‘Where’s the money from your salary?’

‘I spent it all. There’s nothing left.’

‘On what? Where could it have all gone?’

‘On stuff for the kids. On food.’

‘Then why is there no food?’ A pause. ‘I’m going to sleep. Put out the candle when you go to bed. It’s the only light we have left.’

He didn’t want to remind her that his salary was less than it once was. ‘It’s not enough for this life anymore. It’s not how it used to be.’

Emotionally and physically exhausted, he went to his room. He took off his shirt. It was crinkly, unironed and not as perfect as it used to be. A button was coming off. ‘How do I fix this?’ Walking into the dark bathroom, he looked into the mirror. The moonlight showed him a familiar face. ‘What do I do?’ ‘She’s sleeping so soundly as if nothing’s wrong.’ ‘She’s angry with me’. ‘I wish I could tell her.’ ‘But it’ll only worry her more.’ ‘How would I say it?’ ‘They let me go.’ ‘She’d ask why.’ ‘Because I wasn’t good enough? Because I didn’t have the right connections? Because I wasn’t productive enough?’ ‘How could they?’ ‘After 10 years with them, working overtime, going the extra mile… Why me? Why not him or her or him or her.’ ‘She wouldn’t understand’.

He lay down to sleep. The softness of the bed was of some comfort but not enough to put him to sleep. ‘What do I do?’


He came home. Her shadow stared at him in silence. He couldn’t sleep. A sudden thirst had overcome him, a thirst to end their misery, a thirst to quench the earth with their misfortune. ‘Should I put it right?’ ‘How?’ He went into the kitchen. There was a knife on the table, stained with blood.

She was asleep. ‘Why is there blood on the sheets?’ It looked so familiar. ‘Why isn’t she breathing?’ He stumbled to the children’s room. ‘They are asleep’. His children lay in bed as silent as the night; not a sound came from them. ‘Why is there blood on the sheets?’

The shock was too much. ‘Who did this to them?’ He looked in the mirror and saw a familiar face.


He came home. There was a knife on the table stained with blood. He couldn’t sleep. He looked in the mirror. The moonlight showed him a familiar face. He couldn’t sleep. A sudden thirst had overcome him. ‘Is that blood on my hands?’

He walked into the bedroom with the knife tightly held in his hand. She lay sound asleep. Watching her beautiful face, telling himself it was the right thing to do. It was the only way to put things right. ‘She deserves better and I can’t give it to her, not in this life.’

Her pulse had stopped. There was no breath. Her chest was still. ‘It had to be done.’ It was all too familiar to be left undone.

His children were sound asleep. It would’ve been easier the second time around and even easier the third time around but it wasn’t. They were angelic. The eldest one was too beautiful to kill. But she was too fragile for this world. ‘It had to be done.’ ‘It was too familiar to be left undone.’

The youngest was always the littlest princess. He told himself that there was better for them in another life. ‘They do not belong here, not in this cruel, harsh, evil world where  not every man can have fresh bread with an omelet with cheese and onion; where not every man can keep up with the bills and expenses; where not every man can buy his wife a pair of expensive shoes or his children, the latest technology. They do not belong here.’ She was the hardest life to take but she went the easiest.

He looked into the mirror. He saw a familiar face. ‘It was me.’ ‘Who killed them?’ ‘It was me.’ ‘What choice did I have?’ The shock was too much. ‘It had to be done’ His eyes searched for justification in the eyes of the familiar face that looked back at him, the same face that had been looking back at him since he had killed it after he had killed it’s family.


He came home. There was a knife on the table stained with blood. He picked it up gently and pushed it into his heart forcefully. ‘It had to be done. It had to end and so he ended it.’


The door creaked as he opened it. ‘It’s so dark’. It was a familiar conversation. ‘There’s nothing left.’ It’s the only light we have left.’ He couldn’t sleep. A sudden thirst had overcome him. ‘Why is there blood on the sheets?’ ‘It had to be done.’ It had to end and so he ended it.’ It had to end and so he ended it.’ It had to end and so he ended it.’


July 14, 2013

The two sides of Mother earth

Filed under: Poetry — by Zuhair @ 8:19 am

You eat without a worry

after waiting for an expensive delivery.

Pizza, salads, pie… I can go on.

We both know it’s more than you can eat.

What will you do with what’s extra?

Toss it away before you go to the bar?

You’ll drink your cider at intervals,

chatting with a bar mate about your demands.

What will you demand, dear?

More peanuts with your beer?

Less working hours because

the stress is too much?

More money in your total monthly salary?

Because there’s too little of this and that. What a pity!

And while all this occurs in your side of the earth,

a mother died during childbirth.

Her daughter will never go to school;

she’ll never know art, science or geometry.

She’ll play in the dirt.

Too young to assume she has problems other than a rip in her skirt.

The little boy who lives next door

has lost a limb.

Her father works for almost no gain.

She still does not realize the pain

that surrounds her

while you sit at the bar, drinking and complaining about yours.


And so while we obsess about our fortunate lives,

they are forced to wave a white flag.


Image: Retrieved 14/07/2013.

July 6, 2013

Ice cream

Filed under: Fiction — by Zuhair @ 11:35 am

It was a bright, sunny day. The sun did not hesitate to blaze and burn the sand. He showed no mercy in warming all colors; olive, dark, light and pale were equally exposed. His yellow eyes glared and stared, causing the poor plant to wither and thirsty street cat to pant like a dog.  I sat under the large tree in the park. As I moved slightly underneath it, I could hear the leaves crushing underneath my weight as if relieved to finally be forced into the cool soil.

The sprinklers were turned on and fought the cruel sun to feed the thirsty grass. I watched as the earth hungrily gulped the drops that they were blessed with. Part of me wished I could be that grass for I had no water to drink.

I heard a voice shouting in my direction. It came from a familiar person. He wore a blue uniform and sat at the gates of the park. Every afternoon, he would come to me and chase me away and I knew that that was what he had come for today. I had no choice. I stood up and walked away. I walked the streets as the sun burnt my back through my rags and the ground burnt the soles of my feet as it rebelled against the glowing sun.

I saw a little girl and she had an ice cream. Oh! What I wouldn’t give for a lick. It was smooth and silky and it was white. The sun couldn’t reach it. I watched her as she devoured it. I wanted that ice cream. She walked away from the store and I followed her hungrily, hoping that by some mean twist of fate, she would drop it. I watched and waited and prayed and hoped but half her ice cream was already gone.

I heard a bell, like that of a bicycle. It was coming closer and closer. I could see it from a distance. The flag at the back of it was as yellow as the sun but I burned with anger as I realized that it blew for the wind and the sun could not harm it. I wished I could ride that bicycle and feel the wind in my hair.

The bicycle came closer and closer. It was right in the path of the girl and her ice cream. Why wouldn’t she just drop it, so I could have it? She turned around and looked at me. I realized I had made a sound with my torn shoe as it brushed against a pebble. She froze. Did she know I was following her?

And then the boy rode his bicycle faster and faster and faster and that was when the glorious sun showed me mercy. The bicycle had hit her and she was on the ground. The boy had fallen off. Where was her ice cream? There it was, still not melted and still enough left to quench my thirst.

People rushed to help her but not me. I had to have that ice cream. I picked it up and walked away.


Image: Retrieved 06/07/2013

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Amal Ahmed Albaz

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