[Novel] The Road to Shamawes ⑰

“So you left her and came back!” said Master Sayyid sharply after hearing Emad’s account.

“What could I have done, Uncle Sayyid? If I had come back with her to the village at night, people would have said false things about. Our return from among the fields would have been strange and wouldn’t have changed anything. She went there more than once before. You and I know her and are sure she doesn’t sin. However, I’m still suspicious!”

Master Sayyid filled another cup of coffee for himself and leaned against the wall.

“Suspicion never dies. Your sister Nargis has done something wrong. God saved you for the sake of your parents. Things would have been completely different. When Nargis comes back home you won’t know where she’ll go next time.”

Emad was breathing heavily like coffee in a coffee pot boiling over filling him with terrible anger. Master Sayyid continued in the same hard tone.

“I’ve been living in Shamawes for ten year snow. When I first moved here I didn’t know anybody. That’s why I’ve drawn my limits. True, the distance between down town Cairo and this village is covered in one hour, but after living for many years since childhood in down town Cairo where I inherited my master’s shop and got nothing out of it, I felt as if I wouldn’t leave that place for good. But when I came to Shamawes I made myself part of it and cared for everybody here. I don’t claim to be a Cairene. I only go there to buy some goods and come back as quickly as possible as if I’m afraid to be swallowed by down town again. My destiny is to live, think and breathe here. My earlier ambitions were to have a shop with a crystal window, to have my private workshop and workers, to have a ck account and probably a car, but all that was a mirage, as Cairo and I are at odds. I’m saying to show the other way round. Those who go out of here to work or study in Cairo should know that they belong here. They can’t have two masks, to be part of Shamawes and Cairo at the same time. Cairo is not one part any more. It has extended, and each extension has become a world of its won. They are either here or there!”

Like the night, Sayyid’s talk was endless. Emad came seeking a solution to his problem from his old friend, but he was left at a dead end. He dictates that everybody e resigned to fate, that Nargis not go out so as not to sin, that Emad not love because there is a long distance between dream and reality, that there be no different future, only monotonous days. Doesn’t the Master know that immobility means death? If only Emad hadn’t asked him.

But his only relief is that the man is tight-lipped. It was as if he asked his worried self which made him stay up late. He’s now going out of Sayyid’s shop and hears the sound of the house door and his father’s supplication on going out for prayer after his wife has prepared ablution water for him, Emad wanted water to wash away the thoughts that overwhelmed him to cleanse his heart and mind, but sleep overpowered him in the post-dawn hour.

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