Friday Finds: ‘Dance’ by Widyan Almasarani

Widyan Almasarani, one of the participants of the KfW Stiftung and Goethe-Institut Cairo Short Stories Masterclass set to open today, has a short story at Adda, “رقصة,” translated by Basma Ghalayini:

Illustration by Karen Keyrouz.

Almasarani was born in 1982 in Syria, where she studied veterinary medicine. She started writing children’s stories after the birth of her daughters Laila and Alma. She is currently at work on her first novel.

The story, in Ghalayini’s English translation, opens:

You are my prison, you are my prison and my freedom, you are the one I hate and the one I love.

Fayrouz sings as Suha scrolls through her friends’ posts on her Facebook page the day before, on her birthday. Repeated words press on her neck like a noose. The same words each year, over the past five years, carrying the same wish. A wish that becomes more of a burden with each passing year like a drowned corpse being dragged to the bottom of the sea. ‘Here’s hoping that Ziad will be back by the next one’. She closes her eyes and thinks, ‘I’m happy without Ziad, he isn’t coming back!’ She adds an emoji with its tongue sticking out at the end of that sentence. ‘God willing your new year will bring happiness with the return of Ziad.’ She closes her eyes again and imagines writing back, ‘Aren’t you sick of repeating this wish? I am!’ She adds a tearful laughing emoji. All the wishes have three words, ‘Return Ziad safe!’ Just what we need, another space for whining and repetition, thinks Suha.

You can read the whole story at Adda; if you’re in Frankfurt, Almasarani and the other 11 selected writers will read from their work on October 14. Those who wanted to attend were asked to register by October 3, 2019, although you could certainly still try: