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Childhood

Childhood 1
The Magician



The little boy believed that he was a great magician because he discovered that he could make the whole world disappear anytime he wanted. All he has to do is shut his eyes and everything around him would disappear. When he opens his eyes everything was back where it was.
On his way back home, he made the garbage container at their doorstep disappear with a quick shut of the eye. And with a quick shut of the eye he made Abu Mufeed, the neighbour who hits his wife morning and night, disappear, too. He made the notorious bus disappear because he saw the harassments that happen onboard. He made the corrupt traffic police officer disappear, and some billboards and posters of singers and political candidates, too. He also made that pharmacy disappear, the one cursed by his mother because she did not get well after buying medicine for her migraine.
He was excited to go to bed so that once he woke up and went to school he could make his teacher disappear. The teacher who cursed him. The one who called him and all poor people idiots. The one who said that this school was not for the likes of them, that they should be garbage collectors, barbers, porters and ordinary labourers, and that their only duty is to serve those who were born to be served.
He went to school the next morning eager to make his unfair teacher disappear off the face of the earth. He shut his eyes and his teacher disappeared for a long time inside a world of black. He could only tell of his teacher's existence from his resonant voice and his incomprehensible and continuous shouting. He heard the other pupils’ whispers and stifled laughter and then an abrupt silence enveloped the room. A hard slap on the cheek caused his eyes to fly open to another reality; one that aged him five years.

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Childhood 2
Imagination

The little boy drew the borders of the Arab world as he learned in his geography lessons at school. He drew them over and over again until suddenly he discovered that the shape he drew looked like a domesticated animal with a body and legs. He was amazed by his discovery and he decided to distribute the countries around his creature's body so that he could memorise their positions by heart.
The next morning in class, the geography teacher asked him, "Where is Yemen located?"
"It's on the bottom of its front paw," the boy answered spontaneously and quickly, as if what he was about to say was common knowledge to everyone.
"What paw are you talking about, idiot? Are you stupid?" The teacher looked at him in amazement and laughed sarcastically.
All the other children laughed and made fun of him for a very long time to please their teacher.
Ever since then the little boy hated geography and teachers and every creature on this earth.

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Childhood 3
Obituary

He came back home quickly and asked his mother with a serious voice,
"Mom, did daddy believe in God? Did he love God?"
"Why are you asking this question now?"
"Answer me!"
"Yes. But why are you asking? May he rest in peace and may God grant you long life."
The boy slept happily that night. He dreamt of his father and of meeting him.
An evening and a morning went by.
The boy's behaviour changed. It was as if he were waiting for someone.
After ten boring days had passed, he went to his mother again.
"Mom?"
"Yes?"
"After a believer dies, how long does it take before he comes back again?"
"Comes back? Where? Why are you asking?"
"Forget it. Just forget it. I was only asking," he said, behaving like someone hiding a surprise only he knew about.
"My child, the dead go to the Lord and never come back."
When he heard his mother's answer, his eyes filled with tears and he went to bed, but he couldn't sleep from too much thinking.
Another morning and another evening went by.
The following morning, he rushed out to school. He stopped on the way to read an obituary written on a piece of black paper stuck to a bulletin board, "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die".
He quickly tore off the paper, folded it and put it in his pocket, and he ran off to school.
Many mornings and many evenings went by.
The father never returned home; and the boy never stopped waiting.

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Childhood 4
Three Birds with One Stone

Two love birds sat on a poplar tree.
One envious bird sat at the bottom of the tree, eyeing them cautiously.
From afar, on the other side of the road, sat a little boy watching the three birds. Cautiously.
The lover bird dove down to the earth and plucked a red hot rose.
The envious bird sharpened his beak on a nearby branch.
The little boy snuck up quietly and picked up a nearby black stone.
The lover bird offered the rose to his lady.
The envious bird flew near the two lovers, glaring at them angrily.
The lady bird chirped in delight as she caught the rose in her beak.
The envious bird went mad watching the lover bird trying to kiss his lady on the cheek. He jumped on the branch and lunged toward them like an arrow. He stabbed the lover bird with his sharpened beak.
A red hot drop of blood fell from the lover bird's chest. His lady was distraught by the sight of her wounded lover. She chirped wildly for help, and the red hot rose fell from her beak.
The little boy took advantage of the birds being so close together, their location exposed because of all the chirping. He swiftly threw his black stone.
All three birds fell.
In the evening, there's a date with destiny, as the boy prepared a delicious meal from his valuable catch. He selected two birds for his dinner and left the third - definitely the envious bird.


Three Stones with One Bird

The boy woke up early; he put the envious bird in his small bag and quickly headed out to school.
He and his friends decided to play a game called “Three Stones” during recess. One of the boys sets three stones one on top of the other, then he quickly takes the bird out of his bag and throws it at the three stones, trying to topple them over.
This game became an instant favourite with all the boys in the playground. They all took turns throwing the bird to topple the stones, but they all failed. The three stones refused to fall; they wanted to atone for the guilt of their friend the black stone and to punish the envious bird, too.

Translation by: Fadwa Al Qasem


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