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Baseem Rayyes, in his (Tomorrow, I Will Sew My Mouth), breaks the illusionary barrier between the real and the imaginary

Baseem Rayyes, in his (Tomorrow, I Will Sew My Mouth), breaks the illusionary barrier between the real and the imaginary

Black Fantasia Which Satirizes the Human Fragility


With dream simplicity, pushing illusion till the limits of fantasia, madness of thoughts and surreal images and considerable amount of realism, Baseem Rayyes writes his short stories as if he is drawing or shooting a film. He is a writer who came from the world of art, and, maybe, an artist who came from the writing world. But, eventually, he has mixed the two worlds together, and presented his short story experience in his collection (Tomorrow, I Will Sew My Mouth), with all implications and references of this title.

These stories of Rayyes are some tries to escape the ordinary and familiar to the imaginative and the dreamed of, whether through the unstable characters whom he draws their images and lives, or the abnormal environment which he shows in negative and oppressive images which seek human deformation.

Wretched human is the main character in the writer's works; from the character of the Indian "boy" who works in a grocery and passes his time in a 'cell"; the elevator, to the characters who suffer different deformations, such as madness and abnormality and that absurdist who owns his own reasons of raising elements and his difference till we get to the characters of children who have nothing to play with except birds, as an implication to "the assassination of childhood"; the thing which puts us in the worlds of fantasia and what they may tell the reader.

In this review, we cannot focus on each one of the seven stories and their implications; they happen in different and distinctive worlds, environments and spaces, so we will just present a brief study about some of these worlds, and how the writer draws them; it is a difficult task to talk about all dreams, nightmares and deformed and outsider characters.

Human touch controls the book, but in his pure realistic touch, he highlights the character of the Indian boy, Rajin, who, by experience, gets to know the people's states who live in the building in which he serves to deliver everything they need; so he knows about them "and their way of life and family issues, more than what he knows about a family which he left a long time ago, kids whom he has not seen yet and a wife whom he slept with only one night." In parallel, but differently, we see Atapour, the dry-cleaning boy, who is introduced to the neighborhood people through their clothes; then, due to severe poverty, he is forced to steal clothes in order to send them to his miserable family. All of this comes in a conscious creation of the "hero's" psyche and the changes of his character until he becomes a thief.

In a narrative, which mixes the realistic with the extraordinary, we read "The Man with a Wheelchair"; realistically, there is the man who lost his legs in 1973 war, and "have lived" in the wheelchair ever since, after he refused the honoring note which he was given, so he burns it and lights his cigarette with. Extraordinarily, the problem of burying his wheelchair with him arises; along with the objective dealing of the problem of the man's will which confuses his children and family, the artistic dealing is highlighted through describing, sketching and cinematic style. From this realistic world, the writer takes us to a surreal world of "crimes" which does not happen even when imagined; the world of chopped and dumped dead bodies_ chopped hands of journalists, heads of playwrights and a heart of a dumped lover as in the story "Cut – Paste". For more extraordinary scenes, we move to the story "The Opera of the Hungry Sheep" where hunger and thirst drive the shepherd, the dog and the cattle to commit the unbelievable in this world. One of the most fantastic scenes is when a cat breaks into a man's eyes, so he becomes a cat.

By this, in this short story collection, we find ourselves in a world which combines fantasy, surrealism and realism in a writer's try to introduce a reading of his surrounding world in a style which reflects a new view and adventure characterizing the details of the world around us.

Omar Shabana, Al-Ittihad Newspaper


Translated by: Yazan el-Haj

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