In this subtle and beautifully executed story Egyptian writer Muhammad El-Hajj portrays the life of a man in emotional transition. The writing evokes a backdrop of famous Cairo alleys and insidious political menace, but it is his masterly skill in the foreground that is particularly memorable where he explores the space between intimacy and uncertainty.
We’d been playing the same role in turns throughout the ten years we’d been friends; she’d take care of me, and then I’d take care of her, and sometimes we’d both be in so much pain that neither of us could hear the other. Yet the comfort of knowing we were not alone was always enough to make it better.
(I would like to thank the editor of ArabLit Quarterly Marcia Lynx Qualey and the author for agreeing to make this story available online for the purposes of this anthology.)
Published in translation in ArabLit Quarterly Summer 2019: The Sea, and available to read online here