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.
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