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Monday, October 06, 2014

A Story (à la manière de Mahfouz)

no copyright infringement intended

From the One Thousand and One Nights I remember a story about a boy who was running without respite, day and night. A dwarf rode him holding the legs tightly coiled on his neck spurring him with his boots incessantly urging him to run. Maybe the dwarf was a genie, maybe he was a wizard, that I don't know. Anyway he had a long beard, if that mattered. All that started long time ago, when the dwarf, pretending to be just a poor old beggar, had asked the boy to help him pass a river. The boy had taken the dwarf piggyback and that was it. I learned from this that sometimes when you want to do the good, you get into big trouble. Always be cautious when an old lady asks for help to pass the street, it could be like shooting in your foot.

Once when I was leaving a cemetery, I saw an old beggar smiling and tilting his head continuously. I wanted to give him alms, as he was so old and so poor (plus he was very small in size, kind of a dwarf, and with an impressive beard). But I didn't have change, only a bill of some value. Curiously enough, the habit in that cemetery was to ask the beggar if he could give you back change. So I put this question to the guy, who continued to smile and tilt his head. I assumed that as a positive answer, and I handed him the bill waiting for the change. But he went on smiling and tilting his head. Maybe he was the wizard from the above story.

(Naguib Mahfouz)



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