The Story of X: The Story Writer

Mohamed Khair

X the story writer squatted as a child expecting a slap for a mistake he made as he read an ad in the newspaper that a company had launched a grand award. As he thought, his forehead stuck to the table. It was a table with only three legs and on top of it were leftovers with a nasty smell and also clipped papers that had lost their virginity by different colored pens scratches. One of the pen tips was in X’s writer’s mouth, and the whiteness of one paper reflected the history of a struggle not yet documented. Then the story writer took the last puff of a cigarette he managed to buy. He had cheated his mother by putting his skinny hand in her wallet – it was a good one – and he used his index and thumb fingers to sneak money for a cigarette. “I will give it back to her,” he said. He held the pen by the same veined hand that sneaked into his mother’s wallet. He imagined that the pen that got wet by his spittle would urge him to start your own revolution on the paper. A call from within told him this is the only way to restore what you have stolen. He stared at the paper which was already covered on its edge by a pencil. His hand moved to drag the pen to write down on the paper’s twisting lines a story in order to participate in the grand competition. He remembered that the foundation that announced the competition owned wealth…but money was not equal to its owners’ ignorance. He also recalled the intellectual person who persuaded him to consider the idea of the competition, and he cursed him in anger: “bastard.”

He went back to the paper which was blown by the wind, and focused deliberately on it, storming his mind to maybe provide a clue to enable him to win the award. He recalled an envious story writer’s advice that the beginning is from the writer, but the conclusion is from Allah. “Even if the beginning was failed from Allah too?” he asked. Yes, the envious writer firmly replied. The story writer put out the cigarette waiting for the beginning. A lust paper, he laughed and added a lust paper. He chuckled. “It is a good idea, will write a story about the lusting papers,” he focused on the paper. His memory guided him to the lustful neighbor girl, as his mother once called her when one evening, she caught him with her. He blocked his memory and went back to his rumpled things, his eyes fixed on the paper. He was struck by its whiteness. He imagined it as when a female seduces a man and says, come here you. He took the pen out of his mouth, tapping it many times on the table. The leftovers flew across the table and onto his body brushed by his right hand and by the other hand onto his head. He sighed and murmured “I’ll never write about lust; I’ll write about the company that announced the competition instead. I will claim that it is a leading company, its owners are an example of integrity, and they do not have a penny.” He muttered as he retreated, “This is hypocrisy, but a wealthy hypocrite is better than a poor activist.” This wisdom had been spoken by his grandmother, and his older brother had agreed with her.

 The story writer sighed, “No. I will write about my grandfather, I barely remember it in full. It goes, as my grandmother claimed, that he was a Mahdist hero who fought the infidels and participated in Gordon’s murder. My brother followed her up, whispering in my ear (Gordon, whom my grandfather killed, was a neighboring dog affected by rabies). I believed neither him nor my grandmother’s imagination, just because of a reason I knew. My grandpa died of a native disease that doesn’t even kill a bird. I remember when in my boyishness, holding a book that claimed that my grandfather and his companions died of malaria, I asked, “Did my grandfather die of malaria?”  She replied with malice, “What about malaria?” I chuckled. She noticed my mockery, then continued, “Malaria is in the past, my son” and she proceeded to curse time and its diseases. I didn’t argue with her when my brother said “Gordon was not someone to be proud of killing” because she was certain that he was from courageous people. “A friend of mine told me that Gordon used to give his back to the writer men, but I wouldn’t tell her this.” The writer still squatted. He muttered, “I’ll not write about my grandpa. I will write about my sweetheart who left me, and that’s why I chose the ugliest woman to marry.” The story writer leaned back, and his hunched back increased. “No. I will not write about my sweetheart. I will write about my grotesque wife instead. I will make her a marvel of her times.”

The story writer was pleased with the idea. He focused on the paper, recalling that his wife would read the story, and then would make his life into a hell, “Am I the ugliest woman?” He’d have to lie as he was accustomed to. “You’re the most beautiful girl I have ever known.”  Her laugh, a donkey-like sound, would drop down between her teeth. He moved to hold up the pen and took a puff from his single cigarette made in England. He laughed; a spectrum of foreigners appeared as heroes according to history in the textbooks. “My grandfather swore that they’re so brave, the secret history of the city claimed that they were bastards of brothels and prostitutes. They were sent by greedy factory owners and church priests to conquer our lands. My grandpa and the people like him revolted against them. They left but left such traces as a damn cigarette.

The story writer sighed. “I believe my grandmother, my grandfather and his generation had defeated the foreigners who in turn defeated us.” He sighed again, “On this paper, I’ll win, by writing about an army led by this cigarette.” He giggled, left the room and the hunch of his bent back left him too, as he thought to himself of a cigarette that wears khaki, puts on a belt and has a pistol hanging from the filter. It was a genius idea. “I will win the award,” he thought, “then I will pay back what I have stolen from my mother’s wallet.” He dropped the pen on the paper actively, like a fighter. The paper rebelled as those revolutions happen in the Third World, with the outcomes nothing but songs. For an unknown reason the writer’s desire faded out, and he returned to his first squatted position. On the table were dead papers, a sobbing pen, a cigarette butt under the table and ash on the writer’s veined knee.

Mohamed Khair Abdullah

Translated by Nassir al_Sayeid al-Nour

حكاية القاص سين

تقرفص القاص سين ،كطفل يتوقع صفعه لخطأ أرتكبه، وهو يطالع إعلان احدي الشركات عن أطلاق جائزة كبري ،جبينه التصق بالطاولة يفكر ،طاوله ذات ثلاثة ارجل ،علي سطحها بقايا طعام رائحته تزكم ، وعليها أيضاً نتف أوراق ،بعضها فقد عذريته بخربشات أقلام مختلفة الالوان، مؤخرة احد الاقلام الان بفم القاص سين الأبخر ، بياض أحدي الوريقات انعكس كتاريخ لمناضل لم يسجل بعد، مج القاص النفس قبل الاخير من سيجاره اجتهد في شرائها ، غافل امه ، وادخل يده النحيلة –لم تكن يده بيضاء- في محفظتها ، بأصبعيه السبابة والابهام نشل ثمن السيجارة،:سأعيدها لها قال ، امسك القلم ،بنفس يده المعروقة التي سرقت محفظة أمه، تخيل أن القلم الذي ابتل بلعابه، يحثه :اعلن ثورتك علي الورقة،. وهاتف بداخله يخاطبه: هذه الوسيلة الوحيدة لاسترجاع ما سرقته، حدق في الورقة، التي كان طرفها مستباح قبله بقلم رصاص، تحركت يد القاص تجر القلم علي سطور الورقة المتعرجة ،ليكتب قصة يشارك بها في المسابقة الكبري ،تذكر أن المؤسسة التي اعلنت عن المسابقة تمتلك من الاموال ما يساوي جهل اصحابها، أستحضر هيئة ذلك المثقف الذي وسوس لها بفكره المسابقة ،نفث بحنق يسبه “نذل” .

اعاد بصره للورقة التي داعبتها الريح، أمعن النظر فيها يستحلب ذهنه عله ينجده بفكرة ينال بها الجائزة، تذكر نصيحة صديقة القاص الحاقد: أن البداية من الكاتب والنهاية من الله ، سأله : حتي لو كانت بداية غير موفقة من الله ؟ رد القاص الحاقد بحزم : نعم ، أطفا القاص سيجارته منتظراً البداية ، جال بخاطره، ورقه شبقه، ، ضحك وقال ضاحكاً :ورقه شبقه انهى ضحكته وهمهم: فكره جميله، سأكتب قصه عن شبق الورق، امعن النظر في الورقة ، ذاكرته قادته الي بنت الجيران الشبقة ،كما قالت امه عنها حين رأته ذات مساء يقف معها، قهر الذاكرة وعاد لكرفسته وبصره علي الورقة ،استفذه بياضها ، تخيلها انثي تناجي فحلاً ،قائله، :هيت لك ، اخرج القلم من فمه نقربه نقرات عده علي الطاولة، تطايرت بقايا طعام علي جسده ،نفضها بيده اليمني و يده الأخرى علي هامة راسه تنهد مهمهماً :لن اكتب عن الشبق الورقي سأكتب عن الشركة التي أعلنت عن الجائزة ،وأزعم انها شركة رائده واصحابها رمز النزاهة وليست لهم كروش، همهم متراجعاً :هذا نفاق سأوسم به ،منافق غني خير من مناضل فقير، هذه حكمه تجهر بها جدته، ويساندها شقيقه الأكبر.

 تنهد القاص: لا سأكتب قصه عن جدي، قصته اكاد احفظها، مجملها انه من ابطال المهدية وقتل الكفار وشارك في مصرع غردون، كما زعمت جدتي، نعم ، كان اخي يعقب عليها هامساً بأذني(غردون الذي قتله جدي هو كلب الجيران لسعر اصابه) وانا لا اصدقه ولا أنحاز لخيال جدتي، لسبب اعرفه، ان جدي مات بمرض تافه لا يقتل عصفور، اذكر ذات شقاوة سالت جدتي وبيدي كتاب يزعم ان جدي ورهط اخر من جيله مات بالملاريا ،هل مات جدي بالملاريا يا جدتي؟ ترد علي خبثي :مالها الملاريا ؟ اكاد اضحك، بمرير التجارب تعلم مكري، وتواصل: ملاريا زمان يا ولدي، وتسترسل تلعن زمني وامراضه. لن اجادلها بقول أخي: ان غردون ليس شخصاً يفتخر بقتله أحد، لأنها موقنة انه من قوم شيمتهم القوة؟ ولن أخبرها بحديث صديق لي: ان غردون كان يمنح دبره للرجال الكاتب وهو مازال متكرفس، همهم، لن اكتب عن جدي بل سأكتب عن حبيبتي التي هجرتني وهذا ما جعلني اختار أقبح امراه واتزوجها، تراجع القاص وزادت الانحناءة بظهره، لا لن أكتب عن حبيبتي بل سأكتب عن زوجتي الدميمة، واجعلها أعجوبة زمانها.

 أعجب القاص بالفكرة وهم بالانكباب على الورقة، تذكر ان زوجته ستقرأ القصة، ستحيل حياته الي جحيم: هل انا أقبح امرأة؟ سيضطر للكذب الذي تعوده، فيها، انت اجمل فتاه عرفتها، تسقط من بين اسنانها ضحكه حميريه الصوت ، تحركت يده وامسكت بالقلم مج نفسًا من سيجارته اليتيمة، انجليزيه الصنع ، ضحك وطيف خواجات تراء له جميعهم ابطال كما يقول التاريخ عبر اسطر كتب مدرسية، وجدتي تقسم بجدي انهم شجعان ،والتاريخ السري للمدينة يزعم انهم ابناء مواخير وساقطي هامش، دفعت بهم اطماع ارباب مصانع وكهنة كنائس ليستبيحوا ارضنا ، انتفض ضدهم جدي وامثاله ، رحلوا وتركوا اثار منها هذه السيجارة اللعينة ، تنهد القاص :صدقت جدتي، ان جدي وجيله هزموا الفرنجة الذين هزمونا نحن، تنهد سأنتصر علي هذه الورقة ،سأكتب فيها عن جيش تقوده سيجاره ، ضحك الكاتب وغادرت الانحناءة ظهره، لفكره مشاهده سيجاره ترتدي زي كاكي اللون وتتمنطق بحزام، ومسدسها مدلي من الفلتر ، انها فكره عبقريه سأنال الجائزة ، بثمنها اعيد لامي ما سرقته من محفظتها ، انزل القلم بهمة مناضل ،علي الورقة ،انتفضت الورقة انتفاضه كالتي تحدث في بلدان العالم الثالث، نتيجتها اناشيد ، لشيء لا اعلمه ماتت رغبه الكاتب وعاد لكرفسته الاولي وعلي الطاولة وورقه صرعي وقلم ينتحب وعقب سيجاره تحت الطاولة ،ورماد علي ركبة الكاتب المعروقة.

محمد خير عبد الله كاتب وروائي سوداني للقصة القصيرة. هو مؤسس وترأس نادي قصة السودان. يعيش حاليا في الخرطوم ويعمل ككاتب صحفي وناشط ثقافي. – حصل على جائزتين أدبيتين هما الطيب صالح للروايات. كتب العديد من الروايات ومجموعتين من القصص القصيرة.

محمد خير عبد الله

تمت الترجمة بواسطة ناصر السيد النور

Mohamed Khair

Mohamed Khair Abdullah is a Sudanese short story writer and novelist. He is a founder and former chaired of the Sudan Story Club. He lives in Khartoum and works as a journalist, writer, and cultural activist. He has been awarded two literary prizes including the Tayeb Saleh prize in praise of his novels. He has written many novels and two short story collections.

About the Translator: Nassir al-Sayeid al-Nour is a Sudanese critic, translator and author.

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