[Novel] The Road to Shamawes ③


Crossing the doorstep of the Orchard villa on my way out, I looked for the driver who was waiting on the paved road. As he saw me he threw the cigarette but conspicuously perhaps to show me that he did that for my sake. As soon as we sat in the car he began to compete with Saad Elsaghir in singing. As I looked through the car window, he turned the volume down to speak:

“A relaxing place, sir. At first the sight of fields attracts and please you until the dogs see you…”

Interrupted him in astonishment:


He went on, pressing the accelerator:

“Dogs on the right and on the left. Dogs in uniform and others chained. When you entered the villa I explored the place. There is a villa on the right with dogs in front of it. If they weren’t tied, you would now be calling an ambulance to collect the remains … mine, of course.”

He looked at me feigning anger:

“You don’t believe me, sir, do you? Well, go back and see for yourself!”

I remembered that when I heard the dogs’ barks I thought they came from the fields, some stray dogs chased by an angry boy. I smiled at the driver to encourage him to go ahead and talk and said:

“Dogs on the right, Ok, but what about the dogs in uniform on the left?”

“Three men, as seen in American films, bodyguards, you know. The moment I came near them I saw evil in their eyes. Normal dogs are much kinder. God help the poor gentleman who lives alone among these dogs.”


“That was what I felt, though I haven’t seen the dogs driver Masoud was talking about, but I found fear, anxiety and pain in the words of artist Karim. Perhaps I felt those dogs biting the letters which move around him. He speaks in a low voice, saying short sentences, slurring the words. He stops frequently, making meaningful gestures. As he talked about his two neighbours he stopped abruptly as if he feared them. I went to see him to hear about art, but he talked at length about himself. As he said good-bye to me I was sure he did that on purpose so that I visit him again. He wants someone to listen to him. But what’s the reason behind all the fear that fills his heart?”


Viola never gets up before sunset, but the dogs’ loud barks made the place quite noisy and disrupted her sleep. She changed her position on the bed and looked at the mirror to see yesterday’s outcome under her eyes. There were two navy blue circles under which wrinkles started to appear slowly, but strongly.

She was extremely white, and when she wears her transparent rosy nightdress she looks as if she were naked, like a point of light. Her cheeks melt under the remains of yesterday’s cosmetics. She murmured cursing the Psha’s dogs which disturbed her sleep. She cried angrily:

“Saadiya, Saadiya, Come along. Are you already asleep and deaf?”

A thin girl who was lying beside the room door-step stood up, trying to balance, and with a trembling hard the young girl knocked on Viola’s bedroom door.

“You’re asleep and heedless. The dogs’ barks penetrated my head and you turned a deaf ear. If someone breaks into the room and kills me you’ll be the last one to know.”

The girl trembled with fear as she put a pair of slippers under the lady’s feet at the bed edge:

“God forbid, madam. Whoever can harm you? The men at the door can do the job and protect you. Dogs may bark, and people may shout, but from afar. The house is safe.”

Viola stood up and went to the seat near the mirror:

“Safe, you fool? Safety among four walls is a prison. You’re free to move, Saadiya, with nobody watching you, but I can’t go out alone without bodyguards.”

Viola knows that most of her words to Saadiya fall on deaf ears and she doesn’t understand Viola’s chat, but Viola speaks in a loud voice to comfort herself.

“Get the bathroom ready for me!”

“Yes, madam!”

“What’re you going to do after the bath, Viola? The day is still long. Are you going to wait for nightfall and friends all these hours? How will you manage to cope with the night for them? Damn the dogs and their owner.”

Saadiya came back to Viola’s room to tell her the bathroom was ready. She heard a lot of talk, but she only understood what concerned her. She knew that Viola didn’t want to have dialogues with her; she only wanted her to use her ears rather than her tongue.

The lady lay again on her bed overwhelmed by thoughts and sleep. Saadiya took off the slippers from Viola’s feet, put her head in a proper position on the pillow, and covered her body which the transparent nightdress showed its details. She closed the door, went to the bathroom, opened the door, then closed it behind her. She took off her clothes piece by piece and sank her body in the bathtub which was filled with liquid soap.

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