A short storyA gnawing hunger [Archives:2004/711/Culture]

February 12 2004

By Abdulqawee salim al-areeqi
[email protected]

In Alwazzana Weight, men in this quit village, mothers usually go up the housetop to call their children home before sunset. Today unexpectedly, children came back earlier as soon as they could observe the smoke rising out of the chimneys and smell food stimulating their appetite even from faraway.
Hamdan shuffled up the dark stairs with hope to have a delicious meal tonight. His mother had been preparing for a big meal since the early morning. As he stopped at the kitchen doorstep, tears were rolling down his face became of the smoke coming out of the burning firewood.
His mother was still busy preparing dinner, moving gently with her sleeves rolled up. She had already lit that old oil-lamp. Then she took an eaten-away pan off the fire with boiling water in it. “Come on! Hurry to the bathroom “she said imperatively.” No food before having a shower” “But it's very cold in hare'mom “he argued.”
“Don't worry. The water is hot enough and you won't feel cold. It has been long age since you had a hot shower,” she added.
“But I'm hungry,” he said.
Having left the bathroom, Hamdan put on the clean clothes that were kept in list mother's wooden box. They still had the pleasant smell of camphor. Mother, then, put delicious dishes made of pottery on the table. “Where did you get the meat, mom?”
He asked. “And why particularly today?”
“It's the special night of mid -Shaban,” she explained.
“You have to eat well and go to bed in clean clothes. Weigh-men will visit you at night to weigh you as they do with other children. If they found you light, they would be angry and you would not grow up properly.
“But where did you get the meat?” he asked again.
“I slaughtered the cock: she answered.”
“Which cocks ?” he asked surprisingly.
“My cock , with the big red comb? Who will accompany me? No, No. I won't eat. I want my cock alive. I want my cock alive,” he shouted.
Mother tried convincing home but in vain. Long after wailing and weeping with grief. Hamdan asked. “Did he crow before you slaughtered him?”
” No, he didn't,” she answered angrily.” Just eat silently.”
Hamdan slept that night after eating meat and drinking broth. He dreamt of the weight-men. Soon before sunrise, Hamdan woke up and started looking for his cock and it's crowing. He went out wandering with a strong desire to sea his lovely cock with its red comb and golden feathers. He wished that it had bean merely a nightmare.