Why Did the River Shut Up?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a translation of a short story in Arabic by the contemporary Syrian writer Zakariya Tamer

Submitted: May 08, 2008

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Submitted: May 08, 2008

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Why did the River Shut up?
 

Original story in Arabic by Zakaria Tamer

Translation by Kaatib

 In the distant past, the River used to be able to speak. He used to enjoy talking to kids who went there to drink and wash their hands and faces, asking them whether it is the earth that goes around the sun or vice versa. The River used to find delight in watering trees so that their leaves turn green. He used to generously offer his water to roses so that they might not wither, to invite sparrows to drink so that they might be able to continue to sing, and to play with cats which visit him, sprinkling them with his water and laughing, while they quiver trying to get rid of the drops of water dangling thereon. One day, a man with a frown on his face and a sword in his hand came over and prevented kids, trees, roses, sparrows and cats from drinking the River's water claiming that the River is his own property. The River got angry and yelled, "I am not anyone's property." An old sparrow said, "A single creature cannot afford to drink all of the River's water up." The man did not heed the yelling of the River or the argument of the sparrow; instead, he said in a very strict, coarse tone, "He who should want to drink the water of my River must pay a gold coin." "We'll sing you the best melodies", the sparrows told the man. "Pieces of gold are better than songs," he responded. The trees said to the man, "We'll give you our most delicious fruits." The man said, "I will eat your fruits at my own will and no one will be able to stop me." "We'll give you the most beautiful rose amongst us," the roses said. The man scornfully responded, "What is the use of the most beautiful rose?" "We'll play the funniest games for you every morning and guard you at night," the cats promised. "I do not like your games and my sword is the only guard I can trust," the man said. The kids said to the man, "We'll do everything you ask us." The man responded, "You are useless because you do not have strong muscles." At this point, everyone was overcome with despair and confusion while the man went on, "If you want to drink my River's water, you have got to pay the gold I asked for." A little sparrow could not stand thirst so he ventured and went to drink from the River. The man caught the sparrow and slew him with the sword. The roses wept in mourning and so did the trees, the sparrows, the cats and the kids. They had no gold coins and they could not live without water. The man with the sword, however, did not allow them to drink from the River; so, the roses withered, the trees dried up and the sparrows, the cats and the kids went away, upon which the River got angry and decided not to say a single word. Later, some other men, who loved kids, cats, roses, trees and sparrows,came over and dismissed the man with the sword. The River was free again, offering his water to all for free, but he remained silent, always shivering lest the man with the sword might come back.


© Copyright 2017 kaatib. All rights reserved.

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