The Mirror Antagonizes Confusion and Arrogant Anguish


She was sitting in front of the mirror combing her hair lazily and absent-mindedly. She put her face between her hands and she entered the mirror.

– Listen! What I am going to tell you is extremely important for me so don’t interrupt me so that confusion won’t splinter my words. Oh! It seems as if we had started. This pure, staid seriousness which swept away your witty look and your elegant smile made me confused! Whatsoever I will be honest as far as possible. First, to speak out frankly I was dishonest when I told you that I wanted to stay with you at the office till four to avoid the crowdedness of the transports. Really, that was a white lie to stay with you alone and I have to confess that I had been planning for along time and I have chosen to-day because I heard her apologizing for not staying with you till four. Don’t stickle with this questioning look, you know who I mean and don’t reproach me with this light protest oozing from your countenance. I think, I have a right to talk to you in particular and you have to listen to me and afterward you can vomit what you heard. It’s nearly four o’clock. I hope that boredom won’t nip you. You have no idea how anxious my mother will be for my delay. It doesn’t matter. I will tell her that I have had extra work. I think I talk a lot, don’t I? Anyhow, I have to unwrap it directly. It began when I had joined this company. You may think this is a romantic exaggeration. But I still remember my first day in the company. I was sitting embarrassingly among some colleagues when you came in with your witty look and elegant smile. A rare, vague pleasure rose inside me. You were introduced to me as an employee in personnel department. Feeling that I began to get bored you began to ask me where I live, from where I have graduated, the college, the department and you asked about some acquaintances of yours at the college and finally that wetness vanished. After that they invited me for breakfast on a friendly initiative made by you. While breakfast and during drinking tea I kept watching you secretly and gleaning your smart smile and your witty look. While doing so that pleasure rose inside me began to extend and began to have particular features. When I discovered that I would belong to another office where you weren’t existent, a dim sadness slammed me. Oh, drink first, leave little water in the cup; I’m not too thirsty. After a month they shifted you to our office. I’m not going to tell you about my pleasure because I respected the workers’ sadness when you had been shifted. They loved you and they expressed their protest loudly. I was ready to lead a demonstration if they modified that decision. All people love you. All of them do, from the principal of the administration council to the guard. She, too, loved you on an exceptional mood. You deserve her exceptional love. She is beautiful and so am I. No doubt she is smart and so am I. From the way you look at me I guess you think I’m naive! You may notice my colleagues’ solicitude on me; even the principal pays me an exceptional solicitude. Do you know when it has begun? O. K. One day I took some papers to be signed by the principal and while I was bowing my tobe slid from my shoulders and part of my breast emerged out of my dress. When I looked at him, his eyes were exploring my breast. His face was spotted by embarrassment and shyness. You may remember that he invited the employees for a picnic on his private farm. I think that invitation was – to some extent – not innocent. He commissioned me to invite the colleagues. I hope that you won’t interpret my frankness for trite boldness. I’m suffering from tormented repletion and I have decided to dart on you. I’ll be much franker. You remember, you and she suggested getting water from the farm’s annex. As soon as you left I sneaked after you. I was careful not to be heard and I found you sitting on a grassy earth among short bushes. I got much nearer, hiding myself behind a vegetal cascade. I knelt down and I began to watch you from the tiny bores of that cascade. Don’t look at me like that. You have to respect me desire to divulge what I feel. I saw your face got down to meet hers. You implant your mouth on hers and your faces began to totter slowly. An incendiary, sour, strange lust was ascending inside me. After a long time she eased her head on your bosom. You stayed silent for long time and you raised her face with your hand to find that she was weeping silently. I was sure you had known the reason of her weeping before she told you. When you asked her why she was crying, she wept faintly before she answered “I’m afraid this happiness won’t last.” You answered, “It will last if its reasons last; it will last darling.”  You were silent again; that intimate silence and she didn’t add anything. What a transparent woman! She clang to your neck firmly and lustily and began to weep again. I Know I’m embarrassing you but believe me I didn’t envy her that day; I respected her. Do you know what I did when I back home that day? I wept. I wept heavily, fiercely and lustily. Sorry, I made you late but I’d rather I had an exceptional position.

She pressed the sides of her face and the upper part of her cheeks rose to give the part under her eyes a swollen shape. Her picture on the mirror seemed gelatinous, to some extent. She released her face from her hands. She blinked quickly to dry the tears began to form on her eyes. She swallowed the sour saliva gathered under her tongue. She wished she could tell him that. She told herself that many times on different ways and at different levels. Oh slicking anguish! If she could only; If on a customized way; if.
She made sure of her tidiness before looking sadly at the mirror. She took her handbag. She left.

Adil al Qassas began to write and publish short stories in the middle of the 1980s. During the 1980s and 1990s, literary critics in Sudan enthusiastically greeted his narratives as they represented new literary sensitivity distinguished for its competency of combining the aesthetics of poetry with aesthetics of visual arts to extent made some critics compare some of his texts to paintings. He published his first short story collection, “This Silence has the Rattle of Your Absence” in 2002. Currently, Al Qassas lives and work in Australia.

*Translated by: Jamal Ghallap