Valentine’s Day is a tricky one for ArabLit:
For the last several years, we have vacillated between the sweetly romantic and the resolutely anti-V.
This year, pearls and corals fell into our collective laps in the form of three Qatari folktales, translated and published on Words Without Borders. They are: “The Sunni and His Friend,” “Al Fisaikra,” and, “Fatoum and Hamoud and Hamed,” with transcriptions and translations by Tariq Ahmed, Rana Elmaghraby, and Kholoud Saleh.
In terms of anti-romance, my favorite is “Al Fisaikra,” which opens:
There was, my dear, a fisherman. This man was very good and kind, and he was married and had a daughter named Hamda. But by Allah’s will, his wife passed away, and the daughter was left alone with her father. The father went fishing every day, and the daughter would cook his catch for the both of them. They lived in joy.
One day, the father said to his daughter, “My darling, I want to get married.”
Enthused at the idea, the daughter said, “Dear father, that would be nice!”
However, dear reader, they did not live happily ever after. To find out what comes next, read “Al Fisaikra” on WWB.