The Mirage by Naguib Mahfouz

The Mirage by Naguib Mahfouz

Author:Naguib Mahfouz
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
ISBN: 030774258X
Publisher: Anchor
Published: 2012-01-01T05:00:00+00:00

34

I came home with the memories of the past hour singing the most dulcet of tunes in my heart. I was possessed by a feeling of boundless strength, not to mention a fair measure of pride and conceit. In a single minute I’d bidden farewell to a long era of passivity. “I’ll tell my mother about everything,” I announced to myself. I said it without fear or hesitation—and perhaps without mercy as well. I knocked on the door and she opened it for me herself, murmuring with a smile as she typically did, “Welcome, light of my eyes.”

I found her looking her elegant self, which was the way I liked her to receive me. As I peered searchingly into that demure face of hers, now lit up with a smile of welcome, I sensed the gravity of what I was about to embark on, and a feeling of gloom and dread came over me.

With a hesitancy whose reasons she didn’t know I said, “Let’s move soon to a more suitable house, and I’ll restore to you your servants and entourage!”

She smiled and said, “These are the happiest days of my life because I’m serving you.”

I took off my clothes and went back into the parlor, where we sat side by side on a couch. O Lord, Your succor and mercy! I said to myself as angst and timidity took hold of me. It was going to be an arduous, unhappy task, but there was no avoiding it. I stole a glance at her and found her looking tranquil and secure, blissfully unaware of what I had in store for her. I felt a pang of remorse, and the strength of my resolve nearly melted away. However, I also feared the consequences of being indecisive and capitulating to weakness.

So I flung myself into the abyss, saying, “Mama, I want to speak with you about an important matter.”

She shot me a peculiar look that I took to be one of wariness and apprehension. In fact, I even suspected that she’d intuited the nature of the subject I intended to broach by the force of some supernatural inspiration. Had my tone of voice betrayed what was going on in my mind? Had I given myself away by the look in my eyes? Or was I just imagining things?

As for her, she said in a calm, inquisitive tone, “I hope everything’s all right.”

Determined to pass through the danger zone once and for all, I said fearfully, “I’m going to put my trust in God and get married.”

The phrase “get married” sounded strange to my ears, and it aroused a sense of shame in me as though I’d uttered an obscene, hurtful word. She looked up at me in astonishment. Her eyes grew big as saucers, and in them I saw a look of bewilderment and incomprehension as though she hadn’t understood a word I’d said.

“Get married?” she asked.

Having cleared the biggest hurdle, I was able to say, “Yes. That’s what I intend to do.”

She



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