Haneef bade farewell with the words that his limited Arabic vocabulary allowed, and I bade farewell to him as I crossed the remaining metres of the bridge. I gripped the phone for a moment in irritation, trying to imprison some of Haneef’s voice inside it in order to hold a more decent conversation later, one in keeping with the refined humanity he deserved, not one that grew more uncouth the older I got.
I opened the window, hoping that the air blowing in would explain my watering eyes, and waited for a question from my wife who’d been watching me closely since the conversation began:
‘Who was that?’
‘Haneef, our old driver.’
‘Why the tears?’
‘I miss him.’
Translated by Anthony Calderbank
Excerpted from Beirut 39 by Samuel Shimon. Copyright © 2010 by Samuel Shimon. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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