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Articles tagged "Illness"

Take a Number on Saturdays

Take a ticket, the prescription, and a handful of torn money, stand at the end of the queue on Saturdays, take a number. Tayyebah’s unwell again—you’ve got to make a phone call and negotiate a day off from the office. No matter what she sees in her random way, be patient: pull the moon or a star out of her sleeve. Shopping isn’t bad, all the colors make her happy; buy her some clothes, bangles, shoes, and earrings. Don’t let your focus stray from the...

The Sewing Machine

The sewing machine’s quiet hum was my mother’s sad song. At my father’s stall it was her peasant trousers that could send me to school answer the landlord and buy medicine. My sister Marzieh, whose illness nobody understands, and cannot be cured even in the shrine, coughs continuously like the sewing machine’s needle and the softness of her bones only feeds the earth’s lust. Mother is the needle’s thread: with Marzieh’s every cough,...

Methun

Had the bazaar stretched to infinity or had the business itself hit a slump? To the west, where the street rose steeply, almost hugging the sky, and then swooped down sharply, was the very end of the earth. A person only had to take a leap and be done with this miserable life. Magan Tikley, the junk dealer, had wandered around practically the whole day but found only two objects: a Florentine statuette and a Jamini Roy painting. Well, some eccentric producer might rent the statuette for...

Situation: To Cast Off A Malady

invite people over. invite everyone.  to a feast.  a big feast. and if the sick one doesn't want to get out of bed, that’s fine, leave him there. let there be music and dancing, and songs and cakes. and if the sick one doesn’t want to dance, leave him, he doesn’t have to. and if the sick one doesn’t want to sing, leave him, he doesn’t have to. and if the sick one doesn’t want to eat or drink, that’s fine, leave him. but let...

His Majesty: The Stomach

"His Majesty: The Stomach" is a play about the effects of colonial history on players who are deflated and absurd in the wake of it. It is particular to the postcolonial history of Africa, but it is also an allegory of absolute power and the grotesque narcissism the rulers exhibit even as their empire crumbles. It is also particular to the personal history of Sony Tansi, whose recurring theme of bodily malfunctions and disease mirror not only the politics he is critiquing but his own...

Suite Prelude A/H1N1

we're in an epidemic: we're creatures of swine flu la influenza porcina: a new status that has us panicked: completely out of proportion: the virus is a new virus no one knows how it acts: it's very aggressive and highly contagious: after six days cooped up we're on the verge of turning into experts in televised epidemiology: specifically the a/h1n1 virus: there are no schools no restaurants no bars no clubs no libraries open: 33 million cloistered students with nothing much...

from Everyone Dies, Even the Paddlefish

The new boy with the big ears stood in the cold neon light of the cloakroom, right in the middle of the room, and his school slippers seemed to be stuck to the green linoleum. Take off your pants, Aunt Edeltraut said, and the new boy pressed his hands against the seams of his cords. All the children take off their pants here, said Aunt Edeltraut. Her voice still sounded friendly, but it had that slight quaver that signaled danger. The boy wasn't familiar with the danger, it was his...

The Dancer and Her Body

At eleven, it was decided that she would become a dancer. With her peculiar disposition and a flair for grimacing and contorting her limbs, she seemed well suited to this profession. Previously careless in her every step, she now learned how to master her elastic ligaments, her too-flat joints. She infiltrated—cautiously and patiently, again and again—her toes, her ankles, her knees; rapaciously descended upon her narrow shoulders and the curve in her slender arms;...

The Hunger Artist: Feasting and Fasting with Gogol

"And bake us a four-cornered fish pie," he said, sucking the air through his teeth and inhaling deeply. "In one corner I want you to put the sturgeon cheeks and the gristle cooked soft, in another throw in some buckwheat, and then some mushrooms and onions, and some sweet milt, and the brains, and whatever else, you know the sort of thing. And make sure that on the one side it'sóyou knowóa nice golden brown, but not so much on the other side. And the pastryómake...

Ernst and Mylia

Ernst Spengler was alone in his attic apartment, ready to throw himself out the already open window when, suddenly, the telephone rang. Once, twice, three times, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, Ernst answered. Mylia lived on the first floor of 77 Moltke Street. Seated in an uncomfortable chair, she was thinking about the basic words of her life. Pain, she thought, pain was an essential word. She had undergone one operation, then another,...

Parting, a scene

"Parting," first published in Hebrew in 1914, revolves around the biblical injunction (and the Jewish custom) that a man must marry and support his brother's widow. However, in later times, as bigamy was outlawed, wives were made to divorce their dying husbands. . . . then the sun began to set. And it sent its last rays to the window of the terminally ill man. The rays shone through the latticed curtain, and flecks of light collected on the wall near the bed. . . . The room was...

Love Begets Love

The day, along with Ismael, was dying. Under the blanket his still young body shuddered, the body of a man whose life had not been very productive. At his side, his wife Isaura, also still young, attended him in his final moments. Ismael was dying. And Isaura was by his side. And, in the agony of death, Ismael confessed: "Isaura, my love, I want to die with a clear conscience. In the grave and portentous hour in which I depart this world, I want to relieve my conscience so I may begin...

The Man Who Couldn’t Die

It had been Marina's idea. Keep Alexei Afanasievich from finding out about the changes in the outside world. Keep him in the same sunlit but frozen time when the unexpected stroke had cut him down. "Mama, his heart!" Marina had pleaded, having grasped instantly that, no matter how burdensome this recumbent body might be, it consumed much less than it yielded. At the very first, clear-eyed Marina may have been moved by more than this primitive practicality. There had been a period...

Silence

Throngs of sound advance toward the little girl, each throng attempting to reach her ears first before the others, to come down on them like a gavel, and her ears take them all in. After her brother screams, she hears a fly, then it flutters away, so she hears the whisper of the electric meter. In the entire world, she cannot find a single moment of silence. The sounds that invade her ears do not leave, but form layers, one on top of the other. She puts her fingers in her ears in an...

All the Languages in the World

Chapter One Awakening It was a terrible dream. At first I couldn't find my bearings in it - I didn't know what I was actually dreaming about, what I felt afraid of, or what those big chunks of raw meat were supposed to be; despite being beaten to a bloody pulp, they were still showing signs of life. Only a while later, when an image loomed out of the confusion, moved towards me and came into sharp focus did I catch sight of an infinite multitude of human tongues, torn from...

from “White Masks”

Chapter IV: The Dog -1- There's the clatter of the ancient truck lumbering through the hazy Beirut morning, the sea, and the mingled smell of salt and fish. Sky, gray clouds and waves. Engine clacking, its wheels pitching the ruts, the truck rumbles along. Zayn Alloul is sitting next to the driver up front. Mohammad al-Kharoobi and Saleh Ahmad are suspended on two small fenders at the back-end of the vehicle. The aroma of Virginia blend tobacco suffuses the front cabin: the...

My Grandfather

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Sicily has been to Italian what Ireland has been to English. The Mediterranean's largest island, with a population of around five million people, it has produced over the last two centuries a disproportionate number of great writers: De Roberto, Verga, Pirandello, Vittorini, Sciascia, and, far and away the best-selling Italian writer for the last ten years, Andrea Camilleri. Born in 1907 in the small town of Pachino on the southeast corner of Sicily--a bit...

Wooden Birds

The door of the room was opened suddenly and a redhead burst in. Dijana's voice, breathless and impatient, was heard. "Come on now, Felicita! Shall we be waiting for you all day? Get that big arse of yours out of bed. You're dead inside, woman, dead." The door was shut as quickly as it was opened; the antiseptic smell of the hospital corridor, Dijana's shrill voice and superficial but hurtful mocking remained outside. Filiz, whom the lung patients called "Felicita"...

Shooq

Translator's note: Shooq means "longing" and is also a woman's given name. Following custom, Shooq's mother and father are referred to in the story by the honorifics Umm Shooq and Abu Shooq (Mother/Father of Shooq) respectively. It's a wide street, and short, and anyone who enters it feels out of place there. There are no signs of life except for the old houses on either side, and the earth mound at the end seems to mark the end of the world. Leaving it you find...

The Rematch

"The Rematch" offers a fictionalized account of the downfall of one of Argentina's most famous boxing champions, Carlos Monzón, El Flaco, the World Champion Middleweight Boxer from 1970 to 1977. Monzón defended his title in fourteen fights, defeating the North American boxers Bennie Briscoe and Emile Griffith, among others. In 1983 he strangled his wife and was sentenced to prison. He was killed in a car accident in 1995. When a publisher requested that Ana María...

Chlorine

I have been weighed and found wanting. It's nearly two o'clock, the last lesson of the day, and I am standing at the back of the diving board, right on its edge, and in front of me are the others, others who are going to dive, and soon it will be my turn. But it's impossible. Come what may. I know it. But I've got to do it. This is the final dress rehearsal. The last chance but one. I must walk out onto the diving board, bend my knees and push out with all my strength,...

Variations on the La-Z-Boy Recliner, and Dinner with the Editor

He knows that every published book is an imperfect representation of the book one imagined writing, its final shape determined by painful exclusions, second thoughts, and corrections that mercilessly cut out its best, most difficult parts; sometimes he thinks back on what his book could have been, or it would be more accurate to say the thousands and thousands of books he could have written which have remained hidden in a folder in his computer called "rejects," where these different...

The Wondrous Deer of the Eternal Hunt

If he hadn't been who he was, I never would have married again. I had everything: a child, a job, my freedom. And suddenly there he was . . . clumsy, practically blind, wheezing. Letting someone into your world with so much baggage—twelve years in Stalinist camps, they took him as a boy, sixteen years old. . . . With the burden of that knowledge . . . the differences. That's not what I'd call freedom. What is it? What's the point? Admit that I only pitied him? No. It...

from A Dream in Polar Fog

Kelena threw back the sleeve of her kerker and bared one stringy, dried-out breast, which drooped like an empty leather bag. She ordered an extra pair of braziers, so that there was enough light. The men obeyed her without question, spreading out a well-scrubbed leather rug, while Orvo sharpened the shaman-woman's knives with great concentration. Kelena went up to the patient. Her face was long and thin. Tattoo lines disappeared into deep wrinkles like footpaths in the tundra...

When the Snow Melted

A spring breeze ruffled my hair; at the foot of the hills a thaw had set in. It is usually cold when the snow melts, but today the long-hidden sun finally made an appearance. I put on a coat and started down the hill, bathed in sunlight. Few people used that quiet path, though we were not far from the city and the hill was not high. People here kept to themselves; aside from a trip down for their shopping in the mornings, they had little contact with the outside world. I found life up...

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